A young married couple from the eastern part of Lebanon County, Erin and Dave Horst, are partners in life and in business.
A few years back, the Horsts purchased Kleinfelter’s Auction, as a move towards the future. Operation-wise, it was a natural extension of Mr. Horst’s already well-established David H. Horst Antiques, as well as a reflection of the couple’s shared likes and interests.
But the move also served to honor Kleinfelter’s Auction legacy and tradition in the Lebanon community, assuring the name will live on well into the future.
The result is really cool when practicality and sentimentality discover common ground.
“The business has definitely changed over the years, but we never ever discussed changing the name,” said Erin Horst. “Because it’s been Kleinfelter’s Auction since 1927, and Lebanon County already knows the name. There’s also a Horst Auctions in Lancaster County.”
“It was definitely the end of an era,” continued Horst. “We understood that when we purchased the business. So far, it’s working well. We still love all the loyal customers we get to see all [of] the time.”
At the beginning of June, the Horsts moved the operation of Kleinfelter’s Auction from its long-time location at 105 North Chapel St. in Lebanon – on the north side of Williow St. between Seventh St. and Eighth St. – to 492 East Lincoln Ave. in Myerstown, at the refurbished site of the former Farmer Boy Ag building. The move has allowed the Horsts’ staff of 15 to attend to their day-to-day duties more easily, and for Kleinfelter’s Auction to better serve its valued customers.
From a mere size perspective, Kleinfelter’s Auction upgraded from about 4,000-square feet of storage to more than 29,000-square feet.
“We looked all over Lebanon City, and nothing fit what we needed,” said Erin Horst. “We needed an empty space, and we needed a loading dock. The building prices [for new construction] were astronomical. We happened to be very good friends with Eric Hoover [the current owner of the building], and Eric and David worked it out. We’re still in Lebanon County and we’re still on a major access point [Route 422].”
“Just with the square footage, it allows us to do the valuable work we’ve been blessed with,” added Horst. “It’s allowing [us] to professionally present what we’re selling to the community.”
One of the few remaining true auction houses in Lebanon County, Kleinfelter’s Auction serves the local community in two important ways – buying and selling.
While Kleinfelter’s current inventory can be viewed and bid upon online, live auctions are conducted every Thursday beginning at 1 p.m. Kleinfelter’s Auction provides its buyers an opportunity to acquire valuable no-longer-available items or bargain purchases, all in a fun, fast-paced atmosphere.
But Kleinfelter’s Auction also offers estate liquidation services that allow family members of deceased loved ones to realize timely, financially advantageous, and emotionally sensitive closure. Kleinfelter’s Auction will even provide cleaning services for vacated properties.
“A lot of people don’t understand what they have or know the value of what their loved ones collected,” said Erin Horst. “We’re doing everything we can to get as much money from what the family entrusted us with. They come to us stressed out, and then we go in there from start to finish. We’re taking care of it.”
“The knowledge I’ve developed over the years has helped us,” said David Horst. “People collect and don’t care. I think a lot of people who come to us are looking for closure. The services we provide give them a little joy and happiness. The family doesn’t have an interest in keeping their loved one’s items.”
The world of auctions and live auctions is kind of like a subculture that exists within our society. Somewhat of a time-honored tradition that has undergone many changes over the years, that world is made up of collectors, dealers, flippers, bargain hunters, and scavengers, all seeking value that is unique to the individual.
Kleinfelter’s Auction offers a public preview of its current stock online and live, every Wednesday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday auctions can last as long as eight or nine hours and can be attended by as many as 250 patrons.
“To me, the interesting part is what people see value in,” said Erin Horst. “Kleinfelter’s Auction has had a devoted following. There are two guys from the older generation who have family members drive them to the auction every week. People like to sit and socialize every week, but they don’t always buy. They don’t carry the business.”
“Then there are dealers,” Horst continued. “Some of it is income-driven. It’s extra money, it’s added income. We even have people who travel from out of state to come to our auctions.”
Before the Horsts purchased the business in 2018, Kleinfelter’s Auction operated in downtown Lebanon for 91 years. The enterprise was founded by Clint Kleinfelter in 1927 and was subsequently passed down to the next two generations of his family.
“Dave [Clint Kleinfelter’s son] and [wife] Deb were ready to retire, and their son, Brad, didn’t want to continue to operate it,” said Erin Horst. “He was ready to do something new. They had been looking for buyers for a while, and David [Horst] was a regular customer.”
“I think it was a huge service that they provided for many years,” Horst added. “I think they started off with farm machinery. Kleinfelter’s built a name because they took anything. They had an open door. They developed relationships with people.”
For David Horst, Kleinfelter’s Auction personally represents an opportunity for continuing a 35-year passion well into the future. With an eye for worth, David Horst is very much in tune with fluctuating values within the industry.
“They are very much related because David would go out and clean out homes as a one-man job,” said Erin Horst of David M. Horst Antiques. “For him, it’s still the chase. He’s driven by searching for the needle in the haystack. He’s still providing the cleaning, but he has people doing the physical labor. I don’t think he’ll ever lose that passion.”
“The goal is just continuing to serve the community and providing services that everyone needs,” added Horst. “We could get to two or three auctions a week by adding auctions for more valuable items. But we’re here to alleviate your stress. We do this every week. We take care of this, and then you can move on. We know the other side of it too. We get it.”
Because you can’t attach a price to sentimentality.
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