Friday, December 17, 1999

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
Steve Rosen has broadened his auction business by going
high-tech with the addition of

Isle auctioneer
makes bid for
’Net customers

Steve Rosen has expanded his
business by taking advantage of
the 24-hour availability
of online access

By Russ Lynch


"ROSEN Auctions has gone partially high-tech," says the owner of the Honolulu auction business, Steve Rosen.

He's talking about the company's new Web site,, an on-line auction site similar to those of eBay Inc. and other international Web auctions.

"It's like an eBay community, except it's done locally," Rosen said. The site is set up for anybody to buy or sell just about anything.

The obvious prohibitions apply -- no drugs, sexually explicit materials, firearms, cable television descramblers, ripped off music records etc.

The site offers a simple procedure to list something for sale, have buyers submit bids through the Web site, and hand the product to the highest bidder.

What makes it convenient locally is that somebody might buy a large item, say a suite of furniture, and they can just drive over and pick it up, not something they could do if the seller is on the mainland, Rosen said.

Here's how it works:

Sellers must register, establish credit and pick a trading name. From then on, it's mostly up to them. The items get listed on the Web site, usually with a suggested starting price and a color picture.

There is a set closing date for the sale to end. Those making bids have an obligation to pay up if they are successful, but that's between the seller and the buyer.

Rosen keeps a small fee, no higher than 2.5 percent. "It's based on price. It's 2.5 percent for the first $25 and it scales down from there," he said.

Rosen, an auctioneer in Honolulu since the early 1970s, also uses it for his own auctions. This week he has dozens of items listed with Rosen Auctions as the seller, ranging from a $65-and-up gold chain all the way up to an emerald and diamond ring with an opening price of $8,000.

Rosen said he plans to offer the site to local retailers as well. The biggest difference from the traditional auction business is that it operates 24 hours a day.

The designers of the Web site, Pinehills Technology Inc., also a local firm, said setting up the auction business was technically challenging because it involves e-commerce and and financial transactions.

Rosen is also offering the site free to charities that want to raise money by selling donated goods or services.

For Rosen, who also owns Kamaaina Metals, it has been quite a shift. "I was scared of the computer a year and a half ago," he said.

Now that has been running for about eight months he has become comfortable with it.

The on-line auction business still is small compared to Rosen's traditional business but it is showing steady growth, he said.

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