Hanging with Allis Ghim, CEO of Bidsquare

Dec 16,2020 | 14:00 EST By Maine Antique Digest, Julie Schlenger Adell

We are all spending much more time now in our houses and apartments because of COVID-19. Because we all might enjoy staring at someone else’s walls for a change, this column gives our readers an idea of what some of their colleagues, fellow collectors, and other readers surround themselves with in their abodes.

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A vintage fashion lover, a Fulbright Scholar, a brand marketing manager for consumer companies, a financial analyst, a world traveler, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, an eBay and 1stDibs executive, and a chief executive officer of Bidsquare. No, this is not your ideal dinner party guest list—it is your ideal dinner party guest!

Allis Ghim, who grew up in the suburbs of Boston, attended Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, and lived in Korea as a Fulbright Scholarship recipient, is a young woman with work and life experiences that belie her age.

While growing up she would accompany her mother to flea markets and antiques shops. “She loves vintage pieces. And not necessarily designer pieces,” Allis said about her mother, who currently lives in New Jersey.

“Collecting has always been in my background. I never thought I’d work in that realm,” she mused. After coming across a “serendipitous article in The Huffington Post” in 2004 that mentioned eBay was hiring, the young woman went west to San Jose, California, and spent the following eight years working for eBay, which “was disrupting the retail landscape.” She lived in Warsaw, Tokyo, and Singapore, where she developed a global view of commerce, saw how things were traded across borders, and learned to understand the challenges of logistics, taxes, and language. She then moved to 1stDibs, where she was head of sales.

Allis was recruited in 2014 as the first chief executive officer for Bidsquare, an online marketplace for auction houses and dealers, currently numbering 250, with more being added each month. The original auction house members were Skinner, Marlborough, Massachusetts; Hindman, Chicago; Cowan’s, Cincinnati, Ohio; Pook & Pook, Downingtown, Pennsylvania; Brunk Auctions, Asheville, North Carolina; and Rago, Lambertville, New Jersey.

The site is curated and aggregates top houses in every region, Ghim said.

The pandemic “has expanded our core business,” she said, pointing out that “small businesses have had it tough. They’ve been forced to expand their presence online.” Bidsquare now offers “Buy Now” benefit events for museums, such as the Smithsonian Institution, and for schools such as Tufts University and the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, she noted. “It’s a complementary part of our business.” However, “Our core business is auctions. We are a destination for collectors all over the world.” The top category is fine art, she said, and she’d love to get more vintage fashion and jewelry on the site.

Her team is centered primarily in New York and New Jersey, with some outsourced resources. “We’re incredibly lean.” When asked how that’s done, she replied, “We just work harder.”

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Article featured in Maine Antique Digest | January, 2021 edition. Article by Julie Schlenger Adell.

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