His white cowboy hat echoes a resemblance to a clean cut George Strait. He sits in his office at his home in Dickinson as posters of upcoming and long since passed auctions paint the walls in memorabilia — marking 40 years of bid calling. Even at 83 years old, Ed Binstock's heart and mind yearn for the next sale on the list.
“Betty Botter bought some butter, but she said the butter’s bitter. If I put it in my batter, it will make my batter bitter. So she bought a bitter better butter; put it in her bitter batter; made her bitter, better, better. So Betty Botter bought her bitter better butter,” Binstock said, with a smile “It's just lingo that you got to practice once in a while.”
Binstock, owner of Big E Auction Service of Dickinson, has served as an intermediary between buyer and seller through the southwest North Dakota’s economic booms and busts. From household furnishings, farm equipment to antiques, Binstock has sold a little bit of everything. He has participated in several farm foreclosures or liquidations in southwest North Dakota over the years, and some he knew from childhood.
In December, Binstock was hit with a triple-header challenge with being diagnosed with bladder cancer, viral pnemonia and contracting the coronavirus. But despite all of those complications, Binstock calls himself a survivor.
“I can’t imagine that I’m still here. That’s how sick I was,” Binstock said. “...I still say prayers is what done it. Friends and family, that’s about what it is.”
Born on Oct. 27, 1937, in Regent, Binstock used to practice auctioneering on the dairy farm he ran for 24 years in his hometown. It was during that time Binstock decided he wanted to become an auctioneer.
“I just wanted to be. I used to walk down the aisle when I was milking cows and I used to auction every cow off,” Binstock said.
Before picking up the bid-calling career, Binstock later worked as a tank truck petroleum salesman and managed a truck stop café in Lemmon, S.D.
In March 1981, Binstock earned his diploma from the Western College of Auctioneering in Billings, Mont., known as the "Cadillac of auction colleges." Binstock noted that is where he learned his style, chant and overall values on how to be a good and successful auctioneer.
The name of his business was inspired by a lesson learned while attending auctioneering school, Binstock said, explaining that the instructors emphasized on the letter “E” with words such as equity, elaborate and energetic.
On June 27, 1981, Binstock conducted his first auction for the Regent Co-op Store.
“You could not believe the butterflies I had in my stomach,” Binstock recalled in a previous Press article. “From then on, I loved to auction and sell anything and everything.”
One of his biggest accomplishments Binstock is most proud of is when he and Sid Stromme ventured to the Philippine Islands for five days where they auctioned off 369 pieces of heavy equipment for importers and exporters. Binstock recalled that experience as “unbelievable.”
Over the span of 40-year career as an auctioneer, Binstock said he has learned the act of “pleasing people” and “trying to do the best for the seller.”
“There's really no challenge, you just go talk to the people that want to have a sale and you book it. And then you go ahead and line it all up and, and try and do the best that you can for their merchandise. Do good advertising and try to get the most for their merchandise. It's really no challenge; it's just doing it,” he said, laughing.
Now at 83, Binstock continues setting up sales with the help of two other colleagues. When asked if he will retire in the near future, Binstock said he will keep going until he can’t auction anymore.
“It made me keep busy with my life,” he said. “I had a lot of auctions and I (sometimes) go back and reminisce a little bit with the people; a lot of people have died since then. But it was an interesting lifestyle for 40 years and I'm still doing it.”