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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Books - Estate Sale finds that can make you money.

Busy Bee Moving and Estate Sales-

Every week people hit the roads in search of the garage sales and estate sales in their area.  Some are furnishing their own homes but many are looking for something to turn.  That is, get it for a bargain and sell it at a profit either online or in an antique booth.  Most dealers have an area of expertise in which they know what to look for but what about the novice that is wanting to get started and not sure what to invest in.  My suggestion is books and here's why.  Books are often found at every estate sale and priced very reasonably.  Also, many estate sales companies do not have the time to research every book adequately before the sale thus missing first editions, signed by the author and rare editions.  If you want to sell on ebay or amazon books are easy to ship and often at a lesser book rate at the post office.  You will need to ask for it but book rates still exist due to the postal service being first started in efforts to spread literacy. 

Remember these points when searching for books.  Not all first editions are labeled as such.  Many will only have one copyright date.  When searching for the value, keep in mind that book jackets are sometimes worth more than the book.  Just because it is old, doesn't mean it's worth more.  And lastly, offer a bulk price for all of the books for a better deal and you may be surprised.

Children's books are a wonderful investment as they are still purchased in hard copies and not digital downloads as adult books are.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Online Estate and Auction Sales - Is it a better idea?
The new and upcoming rage in the estate sales business has combined the traditional on site estate and moving sale with the power of the internet.  By combining the local personal property, online bidding, shipping or local pick up, an auction platform for pricing, new estate sales companies claim they are going to lead the industry.

After reading several articles on one of these companies in which I will not name as I do not believe in building my business by discrediting others, I decided to try one of these companies out.  I must say I was at first very intimidated.  I saw raving reviews by bloggers that I later found were all contacted by the company to write positive articles about them.  However, another great strategy for search engine optimization as a marketing tool but I couldn't find many reviews from actual unsolicited customers with honest opinions.

I located a sale near my home and drove over to check it out.  There were no signs by the roads going to the sale and none in the yard where the preview was to take place.  Although you can not buy at the property, I think a sign would have helped greatly.  It was closed.  So, I logged onto my computer and found the sale with gorgeous professional pictures, descriptions and an easy online auction format.  I must say, technologically, this company was on top of their game.  I was a little apprehensive to have my credit card number on file for an estate sale company I was not familiar with but I took the chance.

Everything started at 1.00 which I felt was a very risky move but as a buyer, it was great.  I noticed the small items such as coins, jewelry and easily shipped items went up in price quickly.  The larger heavier items, even the BMW car were not getting bids.  I found an old antique radio that only went to 30.00.  I would have priced it at 150. for an estate sale.  However, not having the opportunity to inspect, plug it in, or see multiple angles and up close shots at it, 30.00 is all I was willing to pay.
I had to go back in 3 days to pick up my radio in which I was very happy with.  I noticed the girl working the sale was overcome in paperwork, computer transactions, and a phone.

Overall I had a good experience with my transaction but did not get the entire satisfaction as I would at an on site sale.  Ebay has proven that there is definitely a market for those that want to sit at home and take the chance that what they see in a picture is what they are going to receive as well as paying for that extra shipping.

My setback would be as the personal property owner that chooses an online auction company rather than an auction or estate sales company to sell their estate on site.  This particular company advertises that the average estate sale only gets 7,000. a sale as they claim they can get 27,000. a sale.  I did not see that possibility at all.  And this is why.  Opening up small items to an online auction will give a broader market to that item however, it's often a different customer altogether.  The impulsiveness of the buyer is lost when you have to preview one day, go home and bid, pay for the bid, then schedule to pick it up or wait for it in the mail.  Estate sales usually sale everything in the home including all of those little garage items and grouped or boxed items for the sake of clearing out a home.  I don't see that being a viable option in the online estate auction.  Also,  the BMW sold for 5,000.  Another item more customers would have viewed and considered in a traditional on site estate sale.

Again, technology has changed the estate liquidation business but has it made it better?  Online estate sales will never take the place of venturing out on Saturday mornings and digging through tables for hidden treasures.  The interaction of the buyer and salesperson is an age old custom of haggling that spreads across many cultures.  Pictures on a screen will never replace being able to touch, inspect and interact with the seller about the belongings they are passing along.  My advice is this.  If there is an online estate auction in your area, check it out for the big stuff because you will get a great deal.  If you are looking to liquidate your estate, beware, you may get more selling it straight from your home depending on the merchandise you have.

Friday, November 28, 2014

How to have an estate sale. 10 top tips.

Busy Bee Moving Sales in Nashville, Tennessee

When I am not having a sale I go out and shop both estate sale company sales as well as privately conducted sales by family and friends of the estate.  Below I have listed 10 tips to remedy the most common flaws I have witnessed at these sales.

1.  Advertising - Don't assume everyone has a GPS.  Make plenty of signs with arrows on all major intersections.  Laminate them to eliminate dew and rain damage for the duration of the sale.  Take advantage of Craigslist, and Facebook pages relevant to your sale.

2.  Staffing - The first day at opening is your busiest time so be prepared.  Make sure you have at least 2 people at the register and someone on each floor as well as outside at out buildings.  If you have jewelry or small valuables, you will need someone dedicated to that one area. 

3.  Set Up - Plan carefully for the flow of traffic throughout the home and outside areas.  Lock room doors, place do not enter signs, and consolidate like items to simplify shopping.  Block off hazardous areas.  (I just returned from a sale that didn't have signs on doors so people kept walking out the back door to leave despite the owners request.  I suggested she put up a sign but she said, "but the workers have to go out of it".  Hmmm.  

4.  Pricing - Put a price on everything!  Even estate sale companies sometimes do not mark everything and it discourages me from buying.  If the staff is busy I will often not wait and get a price for an item.  Even grouping items on a table with a single price or displaying signs for clothing, books, toys etc. are great for communicating with the customer and much easier on a very busy staff.  Just make sure the cashier is aware of those signs and prices. 

5.  Appraising - This may be the most common problem with private estate sales or garage sales.  If you are not very sure about appropriate estate sale pricing, find someone to help you with this.  Do not price antiques at the same prices as an antique store unless you are prepared to have some or most of them leftover at the end of the sale.  Do not price items for what they SOLD for on ebay unless it is a rare piece.  Do not let sentimental value determine your pricing.  Look at the item as if you were looking at it for the first time and what you might pay for it at a sale.  Also, do not let the price you paid for the item determine your pricing.  Most things lose value, even if they are NIB.  You should price items a little higher than that of a garage sale if they are displayed neatly inside of the home. 

6.  Merchandising - Don't throw everything away before the sale.  I went to a sale last week that had the largest dumpster I have ever seen outside the small home full to the top as customers stood on chairs to pull salvagable items out.  Purging and cleaning is an important aspect of merchandising a sale but pricing items according to their condition is better than tossing a potentially fixable item.  Use outside areas to display these items and your trash hauling cost may go way down as well. 

7.  Price Reductions - If you have priced it reasonably, there isn't much need in reducing prices at the beginning of the sale.  If someone is buying a large amount or an item you feel may be a hard sell, yes, a 20-30 percent reduction at the beginning of the sale is great.  If you have most customers walking away without buying, you've priced too high and you need to start reducing.  Encourage larger quantity sales by only giving reductions on multiples such as (books 4 for 5 dollars) etc.  Write down the name and phone numbers of potential customers that make offers on larger items such as a car or bedroom suit and call them at the end of the sale if you accept their offer.

8.  Security - Staffing wisely is the key to security but also flow of traffic.  Placing small valuables in clear view of personnel and behind glass will aid in theft.  Be aware of groups of people that may be distracting you.  Control how many people are entering the house at one time to eliminate these distractions.   If the cashier becomes tired, overwhelmed or in a conflict with a customer, relieve them immediately and remove the customer from the line to another location to settle the dispute.  Remove excess cash from the checkout often and lock staff belongings away.  Customers open closets, cabinets, drawers and enter closed off rooms as they curiously shop through.

9.  Parking - Think over the parking for your sale.  Notify neighbors about the sale and ask if they would like a no parking sign in their yard.  Rope off areas that parking may be hazardous and allow staff to park in designated areas as an example.  We have had sales lose money that required customers to walk a long driveway. 

10.  HOAs - Not everyone has a Home Owner's Association but those that do should be well aware of the rules pertaining to estate and yard sales.  Some require advanced board approval and fines given to home owners that ignore these rules. 

I am sure I have left out some very important ideas but these are a few that often get overlooked.  Estate Sales can be lots of work, don't let a simple detail cost you lots of money.  Visit several sales and talk to several estate sales companies before you decide so you can have the most profitable sale you can.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Selling a house? What to do first?

Call Busy Bee Moving Sales in Nashville, Tn. - 512-788-2544

You've put your home on the market and the realtor is on their way and you are worried it will sell too quickly.  Now what? So many times we get calls from someone that is selling their home and need us to help sell a few things they haven't been able to sell themselves.  What they don't know is that they may have already cleaned out too much for us to even conduct a sale.  I hear things like,  "I wish I would have known about your services before I gave it away to Goodwill or worst yet, threw it all away.  These small items cluttering the garage and falling out of the cabinets or flooding the closet are the very junk most people scavenger hunt for every weekend at estate sales.  When it gets down to the large pieces of furniture, pool tables, pianos, armoirs and collections of dolls, they call us when one big sale would bring more money and downsize it all at once. 

A downsizing sale is almost always the first step in preparing a home to sell.  Our moving and estate sales company specializes in pulling out the contents of garages, basements, sheds, cabinets, drawers, and attics to set up for a decluttering sale so you can stage and maintenance your home for the market.  A home with less furniture and clutter will also appear to be larger as well as save you money and time when it comes time to move. 

 More than once we've dug books and antiques out of the trash and placed price tags on them that the home owner had tossed before we arrived.  The estate sales company will help you with the back breaking labor of setting everything out and throwing away the trash.  Of course you want to go through your belongings and make decisions on what goes and what sells so using a roll of colored tape you can identify items you wish to keep and separating them into an area off limits to the sale.  After that, let them do the work. 

After the sale, you can have them or someone else haul away the excess and begin staging your home for the real estate market.  Plus, you have some extra money in your pocket to cover moving expenses or repairs to your home. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Selling musical equipment in Nashville Tennessee.

Busy Bee Moving and Estate Sales in Tennessee.
Can you sell musical equipment and vintage audio recording equipment?  This was how the phone conversation began with a client whose husband was a legendary fiddle player on the Grand Ole Opry Stage in Nashville, Tn., for over 48 years.  I replied, "If I can't sell musical equipment in Nashville, Tennessee then I should just quit my job."  At first sight, it looked like a room full of cords, tubes, boxes, dusty cabinets with big knobs and switches.  If I had not had the internet to research, I would have never known the value of these items.  Most of the brands such as Ampex, Teac, Concertone, Echo Plex and Altec, I had never heard of.  As we researched we were in shock of the value of these antique recording reel to reel pieces of musical gear.  After pricing and appraising, I then began to worry about reaching the musicians and engineers that would be interested in this type of equipment.  Most of our estate sales include antiques and collectibles and a few instruments such as guitars and band instruments and pianos. I posted as many pictures as I could on and as well as the Nashville in the musical equipment section and sent emails to Nashville recording studios such as Third Man Records that I knew used vintage audio recording equipment.  The first morning we had over 75 people waiting to enter the sale and I sighed a sigh of relief.  My phone rang from all over the United States and audio engineers drove in to buy analog recording gear.  The Echoplex mastering equipment was the hottest item made in the 60's.  The Sony vintage microphones an RCA ribbon mics were also hot.  We had a MM 1000 Ampex 2" tape recording system tat was difficult to sell due to the size that we finally sold for 300.  The 1960's Slingerland drum kit sold for 500.  We had a Cadillac originally owned by Conway Twitty that sold to a local Nashville band.  It was great to see such collectibles from Nashville's musical history being passed on to collectors and admirers in the industry.  I enjoyed hearing the stories and history behind the musical gear as audio engineers from all over the city of Nashville shared information on why these items were so valuable.  We tripled my estimated revenue for the sale and sold it all.  My client was thrilled and we all walked away with a new appreciation for the world of vintage audio analog recording that we did not have before.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

How to Price Garage Sale Items?

Busy Bee Moving and Estate Sales in Nashville, Ten.
As an estate sales company we are faced with pricing thousands of items each week in a short amount of time.  I am often asked how we do it.  Ninety percent of the items we price are items we have priced in previous sales and knowing current prices of items as well as experience with going to neighborhood garage sales helps with pricing your own. 
If you do not frequent yard sales or thrift stores then ask someone to help you that does.  Remember, you want to sell something in 2 days so it should be significantly less than what you paid for it new, even if it is new in the box.  Clothing prices should be about 1/3rd less than that of Goodwill.  Glassware and toys that are clean and in good condition will bring more than the contrary.  You can price clothing on a sign that itemizes tops, etc. as one price but will not bring as much as if you price them separately.  Price large pieces of furniture significantly less as the common complaint is that customers do not have a way of moving it.  Price furniture sets separately and give discounts if they want to buy more than one piece.

Appraising rare or antique items can be done easily now on the internet. is a good resource but make sure you are looking under the SOLD section.  Other apps such as are also excellent for researching collectibles as they will go back several years of online auctions.  For large items that would not generally sell well on Ebay due to shipping cost, your local Craigslist would give you an idea of what that item might sell for.  Although doesn't give you the sold price, it will give you an idea of an asking price if you compare several ads.
Pricing too high because you are unsure of a reasonable set price, may sticker shock your customers and turn them away.  However, pricing a little high but announcing to your customers that you are flexible will open up negotiation with your customers.
As the day winds down you may want to post a percentage off for the sale to encourage sales or mark down items that no one has shown interest in.
I went to a garage sale this week that obviously didn't do enough research.  They had some Fostoria pieces they had way overpriced as well as a few other pieces of glass that they knew were collectibles but almost gave away some pottery pieces such as Weller and Roseville they didn't know was worth more than the Fostoria.  With the amount of antiques they had, it would have paid them to have had a dealer come in and help appraise.
If you have attempted to sell it online or Craigslist, don't expect it to sell for the same price at a garage sale.  Also, set aside your thoughts of what you paid for it or nostalgic value as that is not an indicator of fair market value.  Fair market value is what a customer will give you for an item on that given day.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Should I be present at my estate sale?  is an estate sale co. in Nashville, Tn. and serving the Middle Tennessee areas.

Should I be present at my estate or moving sale?  I am interviewing with an estate sale company and suddenly the tell me that I cannot be present at the sale.  Immediately, I realize that they have something dishonest going on and they either want to price my items too low or hide something they are doing.  After all, it is my home and my merchandise.  I have every right to be on my property to oversee the estate sale or auction to make sure it is legitimate.  So why would they ask me to not be present at my own estate auction or tag sale?

Reason #1:  Separating yourself from you or your loved one's collections and personal belongings can be more emotional than you think.  I pointed out that a side table had cigarette burns on it while previewing a sale and the lady lovingly looked at the table, smiled and said, "That was on my daddy's side of the bed and those were his cigarette burns.  I never had the heart to remove them.  They remind me of him."

Our memories are attached to our things in the most unusual ways and we often don't realize that until we start separating ourselves from them.

Reason #2:  Professional business practices.  You just researched, checked the company out with either references are local agencies such as the Better Business Bureau and are confident they are a trustworthy honest estate sales company.  Now you are going to try to help them do their job.  Standing between the employees and their job can not only bring stress between them and the customers but you as well therefore making the sale not as successful.  If you have communicated well and given the staff your contact information during the day to call on certain items, that should be sufficient in communicating during the sale.  Realtors have the same requirements.  You hire them as an agent to sell your home and as they negotiate, they will contact you if the limits of the contract are challenged.  Being present during these negotiations is not only good business practice but confusing to the customer.

Example of this past week I had with a home owner:
Our contract clearly states that occupants and pets are not to be present at the sale.  The homeowner texted me the day before to inform me the dog would have to stay at the sale locked on the back porch and all of the items we had on tables in that area would need to be moved.  We moved the items that morning and the large dog was sweet but very upset during the sale as customers walked by and he wanted attention.  Pets are often confused during moving situations anyway but a crowd of people in his territory for 3 days was very upsetting.  At one time he ran into the house, jumped on the sofa and I had a very hard time getting him back out.  Thank goodness he wasn't a biter.

To make things worse, the home owner decided to just hang around the last day.  He proceeded to walk around and talk with customers, make deals, quote prices which were different from ours so many customers came to the register saying, "he told me one price but the owner told me another.:  I was uncomfortable negotiating prices with him staring at me as I felt intimidated to quote a price that he was indifferent with.  At one point he pulled a man to the side that was interested in several pieces of furniture and told him to come back after we leave and he would sell it to him for a better price!  But the straw was when he plopped down on the sofa, turned on the football game and proceeded to watch it while people were browsing in the same room.  One lady was reluctant to walk between him and the tv.  I walked in and said, "You are not going to turn my classical music off, and watch tv in the middle of my sale!"  He said,  "I don't have anywhere to go."  I said, "You signed a contract saying you wouldn't be here during the sale."  He went outside but continued to make deals with customers.  It did not look professional.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

What Is an Estate Sale?

Busy Bee Moving Sales Serving Nashville Tn. and Surrounding Areas. 512-788-2544
We are often asked this question in areas that do not have a local Estate and Moving Sales company located in their area.

An estate and moving sale company is not an auction.  It is a tag sale taking place in the home of the residents or a more convenient location.  It is much like a garage or yard sale but inside the home.  It will usually have a set time and dates and be advertised much like a garage sale.  Rather than the owners conducting the sale, it may be conducted by an outside company that will clean, organize, set up and sell everything on a commission basis.

You can find estate sales in your area by searching, and

Whether you are downsizing, redecorating, cleaning, moving, probating a will or in financial need, an estate sale company may help you.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Advertising An Estate Sale

Busy Bee Moving Sales - An Estate Sales Company in Nashville, TN.
 Many people come to us who have tried to sale their items first online and through They come to us and expect us to do miracles with advertising on items they have already tried to sell.  Often we find the items are priced too high resulting in no interest from their online sales.  However, by combining many items of a variety of categories and utilizing road signs, online resources such as,, as well as local classifieds, we find more interested customers compared to single item sales.  Estate sale companies will also have their own email list of weekly customers that frequent their sales.  If the location of the sale is in a rural community, we have found that newspaper ads and further signage is necessary to create traffic to your estate sale.  Some recent resources for garage sales and estate sales can be utilized through social networking sites such as  Often facebook pages in local communities labeled such as Buy, sell and trade can be very effective in advertising an estate sale in your own community.
Newspaper can be the most expensive source of advertising and I know many estate sale companies that choose not to use newspaper but if your targeted buyer is older, you may consider it since they often read the newspaper rather than online searching for sales.
Signage can be expensive and always has the risk of being removed by HOAs or an upset neighbor.  Signage is a huge attraction to your estate sale so take out the time to make enough, extras, water proof, and include arrows.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

From the Estate Sale to the Flea Market

Busy Bee Estate Sales - An Estate Sales Company in Nashville, Ten.
I experienced my first Flea Market set up this weekend in Nashville, TN.  As an Estate Sales Liquidator, I must say it was an invaluable experience.  I suddenly found myself in the same shoes as many of my flea market vendor customers.  I was able to see first hand their market from the hauling, parking, seating in the heat and negotiating with the flea market shoppers and there is a big difference.

Because the  temperature was so extremely hot reaching into the high 90's each day, the crowds were not there and those that were, hurriedly ran through with little willingness to open their wallets and spend.  The inside buildings were full of shoppers but those of us outside struggled through the heat.

Before the market opened vendors run through the booths picking items from new vendors which turned out to be one of the best days for us as we sold enough before the sale to pay for our booth.  Vendors both old and new were friendly and helpful making the experience better.  I realized how difficult it is to haul, set up and tear down each weekend.  Many stay in their booths throughout the night to save on hotel expenses.

I did find a big difference in the Estate Sales shopper and the Flea Market Shopper.  In fact, I saw very few of my customers shopping at the flea market and here is my observation.  The flea market customers are younger.  I often complain that young adults do not shop estate sales but they do frequent the flea market.  Perhaps its because of the walking required as parking, and trekking through miles of buildings carrying bags and walking back to the car to load larger purchases is not for everyone.  Pricing is also affected.  Just as consumers expect to pay less at a garage sale for the same item, they also expect to pay less at the flea market.  In addition, they expect to pay less outside of the air conditioned building than inside.  Strange concept but we are all guilty, think about it.  That is why merchandising is so important to businesses.  The same item cleanly displayed well will bring more than the contrary.

Merchandise:  as slow as the day was, I tried to observe what it was people were buying.  Although I saw many vendors selling large pieces of furniture, I didn't see them selling those.  It goes without saying that it takes more space therefore more money to exhibit large pieces as well as back breaking labor to bring it in.  You also have the dilemma for the customer to deliver it.  Surprisingly, we sold more LP Records than anything.  Possibly back to the earlier point I made about a younger crowd.  Many vendors have chosen to specialize in a particular area such as vintage toys or tools.  Rather than displaying a conglomeration of items that challenge the shopper to see everything, they have narrowed their consumer down to a particular market.  It does appeal more as each booth has a different look but I'm not sure how that works for them as I didn't see them doing very much business.  Unlike our booth, folks walked in to see what was in the back.

What was selling
Because so many of the shoppers are vendors themselves and local antique dealers, I sold items they would use to display items in their own businesses.  I also noticed original artwork is coming back.  Canvas art and original artwork is good.  People are looking for something they've never seen before.  Military items are doing well.  Old signs and metalware are moving well.  I sold every suitcase I had.  I noticed many vendors banking on the repurposers.  If I could give advice to them all it would be to please price your goods.  Some booths were huge with no pricing.  If they vendor was busy with other customers or a distance away, I just passed by items I liked assuming it must be too expensive.  Silverplated pieces are doing well at a discounted price.  Selling silverplate individually rather than a set will also render more as jewelry makers prefer to pick.

All in all I was glad we did the sale.  I don't know if it is a job I want permanently but a learning experience that will suredly make me a better estate sales manager as now I can see through the eyes of the flea market dealer.  My hats off to them as the work and endurance is far more than I had realized.

The following is brought to you by Busy Bee Moving Sales in Nashville, Tennessee.  Visit our website to find out how we can assist you in selling your estate. email: or call 512-788-2544

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Estate Auctions Vs. Estate Sales

Estate Auctions Vs. Estate Sales

Busy Bee Moving and Estate Sales - An Estate Sales Company in Nashville, TN.
 People come to us all the time needing an estate sale and are wanting to know what is best an estate auction or an estate sale.  I have frequented many estate auctions over the decades and agree they can be fun and even addictive to the collector.  However,  I must say that an Estate Sale will bring more profit for the home owner than an estate auction.

For instance,  every item is given a short moment on the market for the buyer compared to an estate sale that  gives that same item 2 to 3 days on the market for a buyer.  Because most estate sales reduce prices each day, this gives the Star Wars collectibles different price points as well as the opportunity for the collector to negotiate with the estate sales managers.

If you see an Eames table in an estate auction you not only have to be present at the time of the estate auction, you must also be willing to stay through the entire estate auction in order to bid on the Eames table.  Some estate auctions may allow you to leave a bid for consideration of the item but those bids normally have to be higher and don't favor the non-present bidder compared to those who are present and have the advantage of the live auction.

The advantage to the seller is that the items in the estate sale are given more opportunity to sell at the maximum price.  Estate Sales will often allow a silent bid for items as well if the Eames table doesn't sell at the tag price, they may contact you at the end of the sale to accept your bid offer.

So why do home owners often go with estate auctions rather than estate sales?  Estate auctioneers are usually a less percentage rate.  The downside of this is the estate auctioneer usually doesn't clean and organize.  Collections are often thrown into boxes for convenience and sold by the lot rather than individually, thus bringing less revenue for the items.  Estate Auctions are exciting and play upon the impulsiveness of the buyer.  This may be an advantage of the seller but only a small percentage of the population is comfortable with this type of gambling.  We have done several farm sales and can vouch that an estate sale is far more beneficial for the farmer to choose an estate sale than an estate action or farm auction.  Farmers are often more familiar with auctions due to selling cattle in this fashion.  Farmers often know of auctioneers in whom they trust to conduct their sales so they feel comfortable going that direction in liquidating their farms and selling their tractors and farm equipment.  However,  I was successful in getting top price for Kubotas, bailers, New Holland tractors, Bush Hogs, and Gravely mowers in an estate sale at least 20% more than an estate auction.  A local auctioneer visited our sale and rudely scoffed at our prices but showed up again at the end of the sale expecting most to be leftover only to find we had sold it all.  He was not happy but our client was. #estateauction #auction

 This article is brought to you by Busy Bee Moving Sales in Nashville, Tennessee.  Visit our website to find out how we can assist you in selling your estate. email: or call 512-788-2544.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Estate Sale Gone Bad

Busy Bee Moving and Estate Sales - A Estate Sales Co. in Tennessee
 We received a frantic call one evening from an older couple with panic in their voice.  We need someone to come help.  An estate sales company we've had booked to do our sale for several weeks just left the property and said they refused to do our sale and we have to be moved in less than two weeks.  I asked them if they had a contract with the company and he said yes but a phone conversation with the owner confirmed verbally that they were no longer obligated to the contract.  My recommendation was to get that in writing but his efforts to get them on the phone had no results.  When we arrived the wife was in tears.  She explained that due to health reasons, she and her husband were unable to set up for a sale.  I asked if we could do the sale the following week in order to give them time to get out of their contract and they explained that there was no time due to the closing day of the house.  They clearly had to have the sale with only 2 days left to prepare.  We proceeded to prepare the sale for them and they were greatly appreciative.  I asked her why they showed up that morning to set their sale and suddenly packed up and left and she said that when they asked to take a couple of things from the sale such as an old phone and a ladder, the worker told him they couldn't remove anything from the sale.  He explained to her they had been promised when they booked the sale that they could remove some of the things they could not physically get to as the sale was being set.  They also wanted to set a couple of reserves and that was the final straw.  They were again informed that they not only could not help price anything but weren't even allowed on the property during setting, pricing or selling.  This couple was not able to relocate during the sale due to health complications.  His contract did state they were not to be on the premisis but they had no place to go.
    I'm bringing this up for this reason:
Everyone's situation is different.  Before signing a contract with a company, make sure it is something you can do.  If not, ask them to mark out, modify, or rewrite the contract to accomodate your needs.  If an elderly person is unable to be moved from the home during the sale, the estate sales company should most certainly feel obligated to make an exception.  I will say, it is difficult to work a sale with a family present.  Picture this.  Five to seven estate sales staff people have come into your home, brought in 15 large tables, placing them in every room, pulling everything out of the cabinets and furniture, rearranging the furniture, pulling everything out of closets and attics and taping stairways, putting up signs, etc.  If you have a family with 2 or 3 kids playing, a couple of dogs and a cat running through, it can certainly become chaotic.  However, exceptions should be considered when the family has special needs as this one did.  And remember, the BBB or Better Business Bureau is an excellent resource for reviews and information for you to make the best choice for finding the estate sales company that is best for you.

 The following is brought to you by Busy Bee Moving Sales in Nashville, Tennessee.  Visit our website to find out how we can assist you in selling your estate. email: or call 512-788-2544.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Privacy Obligations of the Estate Sales Company

Estate sales and moving sales companies often have to be very careful in the information they find when spending a week or two with a client and their family.
Busy Bee Moving Sales - An Estate Sales Company in Nashville, TN.
 I have to remind myself every time we walk into a new client's home that there is a reason why they needed us.  If it were easy to throw a price on every single item, display it, advertise it, and work the sale itself, they wouldn't need us.  So that's why we get called in the toughest most difficult times in people's lives.  We have unfortunately had to do sales for all of the following situations:  divorces - one couple decided to divorce during the sale!  I guess as they saw their belongings disappear they felt it was a good time to part ways.  Heirs and executives of wills call us to liquidate parent's estates for them.  These cases are sometimes very sensitive as siblings don't always agree on how to divide their parent's estates or agree on the value of items in the estate.  Suicides and unexpected deaths are also a very sad time for families in which they prefer an outside estate sales business to handle the estate sale.
Family members will often call us to intervene for one in the family that is in denial about the condition of the home. I've had so many calls that start out. " My mother was a hoarder."  One of the commonalities in the estate sales out there right now is that the owners lived through the depression era.  Those folks did not waste.  They didn't throw away anything they thought might be used.  My grandmother saved every milk jug they had.  I'm sure she thought they would one day need them to store water.  I went over one day and she had cut the tops out of ten of them and was sprouting tomatoes in them.  She was repurposing before it was cool.  These homes, attics, and basements are chocked full of garbage, trash and things most of us would throw away.  Families just don't have the time or energy to go through it all.

Simple practices such as tearing off the luggage tags that contain address and phone numbers are ways in which you can protect the identity of the owner.  You may even erase phone numbers and messages from phones, clean out purses, wallets and pockets where personal information is often kept, remove hard drives that contain memory and information of clients, check every file folder and shred documents that could be used to steal the identity of clients.

We were called by two daughters to do a sale for their parents that needed to leave the country because their father had not paid his taxes.  They needed to liquidate everything and leave in 2 weeks and the mother was in complete denial at the time.
If you've ever done a garage sale you will also understand how difficult it is physically to move everything into the garage or yard, mark it all and then sit outside to sell it all weekend.  That's difficult for anyone especially an elderly couple or a couple that has small children or work.

Some clients are reluctant to bring strangers into their homes for a sale due to their own privacy.  We live in Nashville, TN.  I don't have to tell you how many celebrities live in this city.  Not only do they want to hold the sale themselves, they don't want the general public to be peeking into their private lives and announcing it.
Concealing the identity of celebrities and high profile famous clients is not always easy.  If the home is in a wealthy neighborhood customers will often ask who lived there.  One lady even informed me that she had googled the address and read the bio of the business man who lived there.  Now with the internet it is very easy to get information on people's addresses.

So having said that, I always ask the client what they want me to tell the general public.  Sometimes they want everyone to know the house will soon be on the market.  However,  I have had several in which they told me they didn't even want the neighbors to know anything about their plans of moving or that the house was going to be torn down.  Whatever the situation, it is best to be clear of what to say or not to say when asked about the home or owners of the home.

Estate sales companies must use the utmost integrity and confidentiality when setting up a home for a sale.  I have found many things in homes that even the family members didn't realize were there that would be very embarrassing if not handled with respect and confidence.  I found a bag of fifty year old photos one time that when I asked the daughter if she wanted them she became very confused as her father was in all of them with another woman and children.  Turns out, he had been married prior and no one had ever told them.  She realized at that moment that the children in the pictures were long lost siblings of hers.  Selling an estate of a loved one will often uncover secrets of the past that must remain in the family and the professional estate sales staff will not share that information with customers or family members.

This article is brought to you by Busy Bee Moving Sales in Nashville, Tennessee.  Visit our website to find out how we can assist you in selling your estate. email: or call 512-788-2544.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Repurpose Estate Sale Finds

Busy Bee Moving Sales - An Estate Sales Company in Nashville, TN.
 I will post some pictures of these great ideas as I take them but a simple google images will give you plenty of great pictures of some of these ideas.  Part of the beauty of being a thrifty consumer is that you are also saving the planet by recycling someone else's unwanted junk.  It takes time and a little effort sometimes but recreating an item is also a reflection of one's creativity and quite the conversation piece as well.

A few items floating around estate sales and yard sales these days for very cheap prices are the following:  old suit cases, entertainment centers, pianos, old windows, shutters, side tables, old sewing machines, baby beds, camera equipment etc.  These items are finding themselves remixed into useful pieces with very little imagination.  So before throwing out that box of old cassettes, google repurposing cassettes and you will be amazed at the boxes, chairs, and light fixtures people have posted.

Below are a few repurposed ideas:

Garden Rake - Wine Holder
knobs - Towel or hat racks
skateboards, skis, surf boards - wall shelves
jars, bottles - light fixtures
barn doors - interior doors
books stacked - lamp base
suitcases - side table with glass
piano - on wall as bookcase
door - coffee table and shelf
ladder - shoe tree
buffet - kitchen island or vanity
metal gym lockers - mud room shelves
old baby bed - shelf
suitcase stand - side table
side table - litter box concealer for cat
old gate or doors - headboard
camera  - nightlight or lamp
instruments - lamp base
armoir - play kitchen
castors - on boxes and baskets
sewing machine - glass top table
piano - wine bar
old jewelry - key chains
baby bed - open shelf
grand piano - desk
suitcase - cat box
cowboy boots - bird house
buffet  - wine bar
china cabinet top - book case
suitcase - medicine cabinet -
ladder - book case on wall
chicken coupe - coffee table
pulley - hanging lamp
side table cabinet - underneath dog bed
drawers - attach castors
shutters - magazine rack

The ideas are endless and with websites such as Pinterest, you have all the creativity you need to start.  Afterwards, you have the satisfaction of salvaging something that otherwise would have ended up at the dump.

This article is brought to you by Busy Bee Moving Sales in Nashville, Tennessee.  Visit our website to find out how we can assist you in selling your estate. email: or call 512-788-2544.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Do I need an Estate Sale?

Estate Sale Co. - Busy Bee Moving Sales in Tn.
Before getting into the business, I probably would have answered this with a no.  Now that I know the benefits, I would definitely consider it as an option and recommend.  If you've ever had a garage sale you know the work and pains of liquidating on a small scale.  Multiply that by 50 and you'll understand the work that goes into an entire estate liquidation sale.  When I moved the last time from Texas to Tennessee, I chose to sell everything little by little with garage sales and Craigslist until I had downsized as much as I could and still paid movers more than I wanted in the end.  Even so, it took me over 6 weeks to sell the furniture one by one on the internet and continually lower prices and make arrangements to meet making the process quite tedious.  Also, to my surprise, I found a bit of anxiety involved that I had not expected as well especially when I was giving my family antiques to my siblings.  I had those pieces since my husband and I married, even refinished it together during our engagement.  Many memories were attached to some of those pieces as they went out the door.  My husband and I gave antique furniture to one another for birthdays and anniversaries through the years and I was forced to part with those as well.  I never thought I would feel so sentimental towards those things but I did.  This experience is one in which I often relate to when working with a customer who is struggling with the same anxiety.  Using a third party company certainly alleviates this problem and removes the seller from the difficult position of negotiating these endeared belongings.
Whether we admit it or not, most of us know how deep we are with holding onto our belongings and then there are those that are pushed by family members to purge their homes for whatever reasons.  I have been told on many occasions, "My mother was a hoarder."  One lady said, "My mother wasn't a hoarder but a squirler."  She was right, she didn't keep everything but the things she did keep were carefully packed away and took forever to uncover it all.
If you know you cannot bear to watch bargain hunters and strangers fill your home and insensitively haggle over prices of your Uncle Michael's blue cobalt pickle jar, then you should consider an estate sales company.
If your Aunt Berenice calls you  and says, "I need to liquidate my assetts.  I am disabled.  I don't have the money to have it moved."  You should encourage her to call an estate sales company. If your boss calls you late one night and says, "I've found a home in Las Vegas and I need you to help me move it all in 2 weeks.", call an estate sales company to help you get rid of it quickly.  If your sister Leanne calls and says she is going to start cleaning out your moms home and don't worry about anything, call an estate sales company.
For some reason, when it comes to our own stuff, its just more difficult.  People ask us all the time how we can set a sell and mark it in only 2 1/2 days.  I only know that when I moved it took me 2 weeks to unpack the boxes, 2 more weeks to put it away, and a year later I'm still trying to decide where to hang pictures.  

This article is brought to you by Busy Bee Moving Sales in Nashville, Tennessee.  Visit our website to find out how we can assist you in selling your estate. email: or call 512-788-2544.

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Art of Haggling - Learn It!

You've heard the terms haggling, negotiating, dealing and dickering.  Many recent tv shows have even started showing examples of how to negotiate in such programs as American Pickers, Pawn Stars, Pawnography, Dickering, Cash and Cari and others.  These television shows have not only educated us on the technique of how to haggle but setting an example of what the future is going to be.  A practice that has been greatly used in other countries that sell goods in markets, has now reached the United States.  Unfortunately, not all retailers and dealers are quite comfortable with the back and forth negotiating as many are making offers rather than paying full price.  I rent a small antique booth in Franklin, Tennessee and have noticed an increase in the number of calls over the last two years of customers making offers.  Because the antique mall is managed by various workers and the owners of the merchandise are not on the premises, it makes it difficult for the employees to negotiate, therefore they are calling the booth owners daily relaying offers.  Some malls have an agreement of a certain percentage they can negotiate without calling to cut down on the amount of calls.  Although not an ideal situation, you should always ask if they will come down on a price before buying.  Who knows, it may be the easiest 10% off you ever got.  Flea markets are quite versed in the dickering game.  Often the dealers are present at the market giving the customer more opportunity to get a better deal.  The downside to all of this is that often prices are marked up in order to accomodate for negotiating.  Estate sales are the same.  More so at the end of the sale you can make offers and ask for discounts.  When I was running the  sale, a few things did irritate me.  When someone has 20 different items in their arms and is holding each one up and asking if I'll take a dollar here or there for it, I not only have no idea how this is going to get accurately accounted for at the register but know I probably won't remember what we agreed on.  Therefore, asking an overall price for a set of items is not only easier on both parties but may give you more leverage with the dealer as they will not be constantly quoting prices for you.  If its a large item, yes, you may want to discuss that separately.  Everyone's style in negotiating is a little different and some are more comfortable with it than others.  Whether you are new at it or not, there are a few things you can do and say to insure you are getting the best deal.
What are some of the ways you can ask for a discount without feeling pushy or offending the owner?  I've had many techniques of negotiating tried on me and I'll give you my perspective as a dealer first and then give you some suggestions.  The offer I dislike the most is what I call the bully.  This is when someone walks up to me with a frown and gruffly says, "I'll give you a dollar for this old broken handled saw."  Maybe its just me but when someone TELLS me what they're going to give me for something, I automatically want to get defensive and just say no.  I would never recommend trying to offend the person you're negotiating with.  Also, pointing out all the flaws and reasons why it isn't worth anything, may help a little but just makes me wonder why you want it anyway.  "What's the best price you can do on this today?", is one of my favorites to use.  That gives you a starting point and you can go from there.  You can always say a counter offer and see what happens. Another practice that doesn't go over well with me as a dealer is when I have agreed on a lower price and then suddenly we get to the counter and the customer is wanting even more off.  Not only does this not work with me but will get you sent to the side or back of the line until you are ready.  Estate sales can be hectic busy places and a die hard negotiator in line can not only be time consuming but irritating to everyone in the room.  Some customers have been avoided and cut off from negotiations in the future because of this.  I have seen sales people run to the back when they saw this customer walk in.  No kidding!  You don't want to be that customer that holds out forever trying to save 1 more dollar...and then another.  The other customer that will find themselves avoided by sales people are the non-commital ones.  I call it, "How low will you go?"  Basically, just means he wants to know what my best price is on everything at the sale but no intentions of actually buying it.
 Again, letting the sales person know you are going to buy a larger quantity is a good way to get a better deal.  I just left an estate sale this morning in which a man asked, "What would you do on the entire lot of Christmas decorations?"  Because this is July and the sale is half over, the estate sales manager quickly went upstairs to make a fair bargain for the customer.  Estate and garage sales often have to clear out everything in a couple of days so selling by bulk is a desirable practice.  Because of this, I often counter offer with throwing more in rather than decreasing the price.  If a customer says, "Would you take 35.00 for the vintage Barbie Doll?"  I may say, "No but I will take 50.  for all of them."  That's what I call, sweetening the deal.  Again this is a great technique in clearing out the house.  One of my best phrases in getting a great deal has always been,  "What is your absolute bottom price for the car?"  Because most of us advertise on Craigslist a desired price for our things, we set those prices with a question in mind of what's going to be my bottom price at the end of the day.  By asking this question in the beginning, you often will get the response of this premeditated decision and save you the time of haggling back and forth.  In fact, many times I have gotten it for less than what I was going to offer.   The other phrase I like to use when a customer approaches me with an item is, "Well, what are you thinking?"  I automatically get a number in my head simultaneously and if it is the same, I say, "sold".  If my price is way above I'll say what I was thinking.  At that point, I try to bring them to the middle.  The more quickly you can get to an agreed price the better.  As negotiations linger, the less desirable the object becomes and more likely lead to buyers remorse.  Most of what we buy is based on an emotional, spontaneous decision.  As a sales person, you want that to be in your favor therefore a quick agreement is best.  This may also work in the opposite direction if you are working with a reluctant seller.  Sellers are often emotionally attached to their belongings and the more they hesitate during the deal, the more reluctant they can become and change their mind altogether about selling grandma's handmade quilt.
Another tip in negotiating as a couple is:  Let one person do the talking.  If you have a good rapport with the seller don't include your brother into the negotiating just because he is a used car dealer.  Talk to him on the side for advice but do your own talking.
Another idea in getting a better price is leaving an offer or bid.  If you can't agree on a price that day, ask if they will let you leave your name and number with a written offer.  This is a great way to get your price and the seller has your information at the end of the day after they find that Grandma's Madam Alexander Dolls aren't  worth as much as she thought.

My next advice is: Don't let pride get in your way.  I have seen many people lose a deal within a few insignificant dollars because of pride.  If you have haggled down within a small percentage of the price of the Lillian Russell dresser and about to walk away because of a few dollars because you either don't like the dealer or had a certain amount stuck in your head, you must not have really wanted it anyway.
Last advice on negotiating:  If you are at a number you really are not comfortable with, then stop.  This is definitely true for auctions.  We all get caught up in the moment and later regret it. 
So there it is.  Always ask for a better deal.  If you plan to be a return customer, don't offend the seller.  If you can't come to an agreement, leave your information and you just may get a call.

This article is brought to you by Busy Bee Moving Sales in Nashville, Tennessee.  Visit our website to find out how we can assist you in selling your estate. email: or call 512-788-2544.

Monday, July 14, 2014

What's Hot and What's Not in Estate Sale Treasures

Busy Bee Moving Sales - An Estate Sales Company in Nashville, TN.
 I have mentioned a few of these points in my previous blogs so I'll quickly summarize the trend.  Men are the new and growing fans of estate, garage and yard sales. Men scour garages for older tools and items that are now made in other countries of less quality.

 Also, due to the downturn in the economy families are choosing to buy furniture, clothes, toys and household goods from their neighbors instead of taking out loans, charging up their credit cards and paying sales tax on new items.

Metalware - A recent trend in reselling gold and silver has definitely driven the demand for precious metals and it sickens me to see beautiful antique sterling to be sent off to be melted down.  But in tough financial  times when folks need cash, that's what happens.  In addition to the precious metals is also a high demand for scrap metal as well.  Again,  many metal antiquities are being hauled away and scrapped.  I have nothing against recycling, just caution that you may get more for those Stanley Planes if you sell them on instead of scrapping them with a pile of tools.

Jewelry both precious gems, metal and costume are still very hot.  Dealers can ship them easily and they don't take up much space in antique booths where dealers pay by the square foot.  Also, the price of sterling silver and gold has definitely going up in value thus attracting that buyer.  Jewelry collectors will be the first in the door so be ready.  Even vintage jewelry from the fifty's through the seventy's has a strong market.

Guns and ammunition are hot.  The entire gun market has sky rocketed in past years.  State and Federal Laws must be followed in trading of these items but if you are looking for a shotgun you better be first in line for that sale.

Television shows and websites have also given us inspiration to repurpose and recycle rather than throwing out.  Thanks to sites such as a plethora of ideas of taking yard sale finds and remixing them into new life.  Creative thinkers are flooding estate sales and chalk painting furniture and reselling it for a profit.  I've sold old screen doors to women who said it would make a bulletin/chalk board and even an old rusty garden rake to a lady that was hanging it on the wall as a wine glass holder.  The ideas are endless.  An antique dealer held up an iron half red half rusty 4" attachment to a tractor and said, "How much?  I can use this for a bookend."

And now to what's not hot.  Unfortunately, many lifetime collections have not held their value.  China, glassware, dolls, electronics, furs, certain furniture pieces, books and home furnishings have not.  I have a saying, "If it was manufactured for the purpose of being a collectible, it probably hasn't increased in value."  This is unfortunate for collectors of Hummels, Precious Moments, Knowles Plates, etc.

Let's begin with furniture.  I have conducted many sales and this is what is frequently left at the end and I'll tell you why.  Large pieces such as armoirs and entertainment centers.  Families are turning to flat screens and even those that attach to the walls therefore not wanting the tv armoirs and cabinetry used in the 80's and 90's.  Also, large furniture pieces require moving expenses and space that many young families looking for furniture do not want to contend with.   Fabricated furniture such as sofas, loveseats and wing back chairs also move slowly at the sale.  Reupholstering a sofa will often cost between 500-1500.  Unless it is in impeccable condition or a rare Eame's sofa worthy of having refurbished, buyers will most likely buy new.  Fabric also has a clean factor that buyers consider.  If pets are smokers were in the home, the lazy boy recliner will probably not sell.   Fabric will also date the furniture when wood pieces mix into new decor more easily.  We are also seeing a trend of going away from the large formal dining room furniture.  Formal dining rooms are being converted to home offices.  Pub height tables and wine bars have replaced the large dining table and buffet.

My biggest disappointment in the industry has been the decrease of prices in glassware.  I believe that few of the new antique collecting shows have educated the public on the value of glassware.  Roseville, McCoy, yelloware, Pyrex, and a few others have held much of their value, all have taken a hit.  From Fostoria, depression glass, Fenton to carnival glass, they all have decreased in value from the once book prices we went by prior to internet appraising.  I did see a bounce last year in crystal, especially the better more expensive crystal such as Waterford and Bacharach.  Thanks to Pinterest, wedding planners started collecting china and stemware even mixing sets for an eclectic look.  Once bringing thousands as a set, Noritake and Limoges were selling for less than 100.  a set.

Books and electronics have all become victims of the technical industry.  I recently did a sale to walk in and find 5 old t.v.s stacked in the corner.  The owner asked if I would put 25 dollars each on them.  I told her I would put 10 dollars on them and hope they get hauled away as land fills will often charge you to take them.  We sold one.  I had a man buy speakers just for the copper in the wire.  Technology is always improving and never trusted fully by the buyer so they are tough sales.  Electronic books have hurt the market but antique books still have some value.  Older children lithograph books would be the best sellers.

Fur coats will occasionally sell but not for the prices they did at one time.  Unless a crafter wants to make something new from it, most likely it will not be worn again.

And lastly, art.  I'm not sure why the downturn in sales in the framed and glass art other than decor, but they are hard to sell even signed by the artist.  Original art by unknown artists is a little more marketable but struggling as well.

Of course location and timing is a factor in what is hot and what is not.  Christmas ornaments don't sell in June but fly out the door in November.  Historical items attached to an area such as books and memorabilia will definitely be a hot item regionally.  But overall we have seen variances in the market of resale goods.  Nevertheless, I'll hold onto my handpainted Bavarian plates until the price goes up.
This article is brought to you by Busy Bee Moving Sales in Nashville, Tennessee.  Visit our website to find out how we can assist you in selling your estate. email: or call 512-788-2544.