My family and I hit C-Mart’s first live auction today and found it to be a lot of fun. We didn’t bid on anything — I’m saving up for my big BGE bills — but it looked like folks were getting good deals. This Joppatowne store that sells at a discount furniture, housewares, appliances, clothing shoes, etc. that other stores couldn’t sell, tried out this auction idea to help them clear floor space. Some of the proceeds benefitted special education programs in Harford County. The auction items included an assortment of stainless steel range hoods, a set of Ralph Lauren upholstered dining room chairs and a four poster bed. While I was there, a sofa priced at $3,600 went to a bidder who offered a mere $250. Enormous boxes of clothing were being sold as a lot. I’m not sure what you might do with a big box of assorted clothing. An hour after the auction began, 300 people had registered and were wandering the aisles with booklets listing each auction item. Bidders gathered in the back area where the antiques are separated from the rest of the store by partial walls. The auctioneer stood atop a stairway and rattled off the bids. It was a lot of fun. But then a visit to CMart always is an experience. As we made our way through the parking lot dotted with Mercedes Benz and Jaguars, a man was strolling past the front of the store belting out the Star Spangled Banner. Inside, we had fun finding the most outrageous pieces, like this arresting zebra print chair. (It wasn’t included in the auction.) And this bench carved from from a particularly knotty tree. (Also not part of the auction.)The thing about most of this furniture is that when you find a great deal, you often have to design your room around it. They have some fabulous pieces by top designers, but they are more often richly colored and highly patterned than in muted tones that would blend in with any decor. Last year I fell for a set of bombe chests handpainted with a checkerboard pattern that framed a bowl of fruit on one and a rooster on the other. I thought they’d fit in with my bedroom decor. Now I see that I’m going to have to work my decor around them. But I still love them — mostly because the original price tag said $1,300 and I got them for $250.