CHANA – Going, going, gone.
Auctioneer Don Ebersole Jr. and his wife Linda are retiring, and are leasing their longtime family business, the Chana Sale Barn, to another family.
Also retiring, then, are their partner, Nate Mattison, their sons Wendell, Wayne and Wesley, their 10 grandchildren and the many other family members who helped grow the business over four generations.
Longtime auctioneer Kalvin Boewe of Elgin, who's been a regular seller at the Ebersoles for about 5 years, is the new manager of what now will be called the Chana Auction Barn.
He and his wife, Michelle, and children Nathan and Melissa intend to run the auction with the same passion as the Ebersoles, he said.
Tuesday, people arrived in droves despite the rain to buy, sell and see the Ebersoles off – it was their final sale, although “Mom and Dad will probably stick around to help the new guy get going,” Wayne said. There were 200 consignees with truckloads of goods from all over Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas, along with the buyers.
The Ebersoles have worked at the auction for 35 years, the last 15 as owners. Linda, 68, began as a clerk at what was then Rose Consignment Sale; Tuesday, she was doing the very same job.
“I just showed up one day and been here ever since,” she said with a smile.
When they began, there were two auctioneers, including Don's dad, Don Sr. Now there are six, selling livestock, produce, furniture, housewares and vehicles.
“People bring furniture, appliances, animals, produce – pretty much anything you can think of, they sell it,” son Wayne said. “You gotta come to see it to believe it – they sell everything.”
Don Sr. worked the Chana sales for decades; at one time, he was the oldest auctioneer in Illinois.
“My grandfather dang near worked the whole time, and he was 93 when he passed,” Wayne said.
Darrell Ropp of Stillman Valley has been an auction regular for 45 years. He buys items and donates them to Rockford Rescue Mission.
“I believe in what they are trying to do, helping people down on their luck. You get a lot of good buys here,” Ropp said.
Once while on vacation in Branson, Mo., a man stopped Don and said, “Hey, aren’t you the fella that runs the barn auction out there in Chana, Illinois?”
“People come from all over,” he said proudly. “They love this. We even have Jimmy Koontz out of Arkansas. He brings watermelons he grows out here.”
Over the years, the Ebersoles have grown close to generations of other families, and have learned a lot about them.
Don would go to other auctions, estate and garage sales and pick up items he knew his “people” collected or were interested in buying. Many are into resale and make their living selling their finds, he said.
He's aware of the enjoyment the auction has brought so many, but even Don was surprised that four of his buyers who died last year had in their obituaries, that "attending the Chana Sale Barn was one of his favorite things."
“Just shows you what it means to people," Don said. "They get to know you. You get to know them, and if someone’s missing, I can call someone and find out how come.”
It's been a fun ride, but Linda and Don are ready for retirement.
“I’m not going to Florida, but I got me a fishing license," Don said.
He's not worried about the Ebersole legacy, either.
“I think Kal is going to do all right,” Don said.
Chana Auction Barn, 620 S. Stonehill Road, will continue to hold auctions from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Tuesday. There's a new food wagon, though.
Contact auctioneer Kalvin Boewes at 815-732-3821 or 815-222-7001; his email is firstname.lastname@example.org.