Nigro's Brothers Bring Home the Bacon
"Our auctioneers tonight, once again, are The Nigro Brothers." And quick as you can wave a hand, four guys spring into action, items are held aloft, the descriptions are flying and the money soaring -- four men doing all they can to get you to spend more money than you planned. It's OK though, because it's always for a good cause.
Most of us have attended charity auctions. Few of us think about the time and labor involved, unless we've actively participated. But charity auctions are well worth the time and effort, as the Nigro Brothers Auction Company can attest.
Two of the four Nigro brothers are actually brothers. They grew up with their dad's (Tony) pretty much everything" western shop in Kansas City, Kansas, there since 1955 and still operated by son David and him. Saddles, boots, farm implements, clothing, guns, you name it, it was all there. The store did so well that a second store opened in 1964 on Shawnee Mission Parkway, run by son George.
Back then though, Tony Nigro was also running auctions in Linwood, Kansas, and George thought the auctioneering part was pretty fun. He told his dad who thought it was a fine idea and then he studied at home for quite a while. The final step was attending the Missouri Auction School where he earned a diploma from the two week course. He was the youngest person ever to become an auctioneer in Missouri. He was a grown-up 12 years old.
With that title firmly tacked under his belt, he was inevitably selected to be the classroom auctioneer at his school, St. Joseph. From there, he did an entire auction for a school fundraiser--and it just, apparently, slowly grew from there. That's as close as he and brother David can figure out how they got into the "charity business." That's a great name for an avocation that brings joy and satisfaction--and absolutely no pay--for the 70 or so auctions they do each year.
The Nigro Brothers Auction Company also includes Toby Tyler and Ron Stricker. Toby, a long-time friend, went to high school with the Nigro boys but Stricker was a customer of the store who offered to help. He "lost" all his weekends, too--though none of them regard it that way. Instead, they say they're the fortunate ones--because they feel they're able to make a real difference. Plus, they say, they may as well be brothers for all the time they spend together.
Doing an auction can be a several hour event for the auctioneer and the "spotters" or "ringmen" who help to up the ante. These four men spend nearly every weekend donating their time and expertise to charitable causes. The first weekend in February every year goes to Holy Spirit; the first Saturday in April goes to Rockhurst; in March there's always the Boys and Girls Club; and on and on. And on. "Not a day goes by," says George, "that someone isn't calling the store trying to get us to do an auction." But there's only 52 weekends a year and many of those are already permanently booked.
All four of the Nigro "brothers" are aware their families are a part of their efforts. "I've missed many a sports or school event I should have been to," points out George. "But all the kids know we're doing something important, something that can make a difference. They understand." All the time and labor is absolutely free to the charitable cause, as long as all the money is going back to the charity. "When someone buys something at a Nigro Brothers auction, they know the funds are going to the cause," says George. It's a remarkably consistent contribution, netting the charities over $2,600,000 last year.
George Nigro has lived his whole life in Shawnee but recently his family and his brother built homes on his dad's acreage in Wyandotte County. He notes his wife and daughters have had to go without his companionship on many an evening, but says simply, "They know it's for a good cause." And, he notes, "We've made a ton of money to help others and along the way, found many great new friends and had fun, too." The Nigro Brothers Auction Company is definitely making a difference--just ask most of Ingram's readers and any of the many schools, churches, and charities that have benefited from their talents.