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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.