Long before e-commerce sites like eBay introduced us to digital collectible auctions and long before technology like WhatNot took over the collectible app market, collectors looked to reputable auction houses such as Hake's Auctions to secure their most prized possessions. Started over 55 years ago, Hake's has faced down all competition over the decades and has since evolved into the go-to location for pop culture items that are diverse, authentic, and always interesting to browse.

Hake's currently is in the middle of one of their four annual auctions, with more than 2,500 pieces closing between May 15th and 17th. One of the people primarily responsible for making sure these auctions are stocked and ready for market is Kelly McClain, the Senior Consignment Manager for Hake's. This past week, Kelly was gracious enough to give us some of his valuable spare time to discuss the ongoing auction, some of the more unique items Hake's has ever sold, and what would be his Holy Grail of collectible pieces.

You still have time to bid on the hundreds of items available at Hake's including everything from VHS tapes, comic books, art, action figures, and Pokemon. Here is our interview with Kelly McClain.

1. GoCollect readers are very familiar with the idea of origin stories, so what is your origin story with Hake's? What brought you there and how did the role of Senior Consignment Manager come about?

Ted Hake started Hake’s Auctions in 1967 with the primary focus on Presidential Campaign Pinback Buttons. Throughout the years Hake’s has evolved as the collecting trends have changed. The company has grown in size and reach to the collecting communities with our current focus on Pop Culture collectibles that mainly include Comic Books, Original Comic Art, Star Wars, Action Figures, Sports Items, Political Campaign items, Concert Posters, and more.

Photo courtesy of Hakes.com.

My start in the auction world was with my family’s company, Yorktown Auctions, with a focus on American Antiques and was based in York, Pennsylvania. Right out of high school (summer 2004) I started with Hake’s as the photographer and shipping assistant. Over the years I was able to work my way up the ladder, and in 2012 I became the consignment manager and was promoted to Senior Consignment Manager in 2022.

2. You have a massive ongoing auction that ends May 15th. What is your primary role before, during, and after an auction of this size and scope?

My main roll is to facilitate the pop culture items getting in the door. Mainly, that includes corresponding with the consignors, but can also include travel,  and that is all based on the size and location of the collection. During the auction, we all focus on marketing the items to the collectors, either through social media, emails, mailers, and other channels. Post-auction is handled mainly by other departments.

3. As Sr. Consignment Manager, what kinds of sources or leads or tips are you tracking down on a regular basis to procure the items that will be included in Hake's auctions? What percentage of items do you seek versus what percentage are pitched to you?

Our 50+ years in business play a big role in our ongoing success. That gives us a client base that has no reason to go anywhere else when they are ready to trust someone with their collection. A decent amount of our leads come from dedicated customers, but that does not mean we are not actively advertising marketing for consignments. It is an 80/20 split right now (80% are pitched to us and 20% we seek out).

4. Two of the collectibles that GoCollect and its readers follow closely are comic books and video games. Are those still two of the largest pieces of the auctions and what other items are most popular or most demanded?

The majority of the items in our auctions include comic books and comic original art, Star Wars or action figures, video games, sports items, and political items.

[caption id="attachment_241227" align="aligncenter" width="446"] Photo courtesy of Hakes.com.[/caption]

5. Collectible items saw a huge boom during COVID when there was a lot of disposable income floating around, but then we saw more of a bear market for a while. What trends are Hake's seeing in terms of participation, demand, and value of certain segments of collectibles?

We have always catered to the collectors, as they are loyal clients and we love knowing that the items we sell are going directly into their collections. As far as “trends”, we have not noticed a difference in our loyal collectors showing up to bid and add items to their collections. Our motto is “Collect What You Love!”

6. What are some of the more rare or valuable items you have seen pass through Hake's in recent years? I believe Hake's set the record for the Boba Fett Rocket-Firing action figure and an original Martin Luther King, Jr. signed letter. What are some of the more interesting or valuable pieces you have seen come through?

One of my favorite items we have ever had up for auction was the Chris Evans Screen-Used Captain America Shield from Avengers: Endgame. Among the two items that you mentioned, both hold the world record price, and these were amazing pieces to have pass through our auction.

[caption id="attachment_241225" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Photo courtesy of Hakes.com.[/caption]

7. Are you a collector of anything in particular? If so, what are you most interested in?

Recently I have become interested in sealed VHS tapes and I have been searching for all my childhood favorites. My most recent additions were Batman (1990) VGA 85 and Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back VGA 80.

8. Do you have a Holy Grail of collectible items that you would like to see consigned through Hake's or is there an item you hope to one day have in your own collection?

[caption id="attachment_241226" align="aligncenter" width="235"] Photo courtesy of theswca.com.[/caption]

Many say that it is forever lost, but the Kit-Bashed Boba Fett Prototype would be an incredible piece of Star Wars History to offer. This would break all records and would be the show-stopper of all show-stoppers.

9. What's the best way people can get involved or connected to Hake's? Social media? Website? Where do you normally point people to go?

Social media is the best way, we have daily updates and posts. We can be reached on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

I want to thank Kelly McClain again for taking time out of a busy auction schedule to spend time answering questions for GoCollect. To browse all of the hundreds of items up for auction at Hake's, follow them on social media or visit their auction page.

*Any perceived investment advice is that of the freelance blogger and does not represent advice on behalf of GoCollect.