How many people come to your sales? In season, a big sale might have between 50 and 100 at 9 a.m. and 500 in the course of a day. But it’s a big difference in July trying to get people out.
How much does an average sale make? In the last six weeks, I’ve had sales ranging from $2,000 to $80,000. Once I had a nice sale on Bird Key that made like $20,000, but then there was a $100,000 painting in it that I sold later.
Why shop at estate sales? You can get better quality for a lot less money than in a store, like older, better-made furniture than the current imports from Southeast Asia made out of particle board and wood chips. You get wonderful deals on mattresses, vacuum cleaners, tools. It’s great for people who are starting out or who have rentals and need to replace things frequently.
What if a customer gives you trouble? If somebody is shoving or snatching something out of someone’s hands, I ask them never to come back. If I catch somebody stealing I call the police. I run a very tight ship—one way in, one way out. Everyone has a number and they have to line up.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve found? In a garage, of all places, we came across a document signed by Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. Again in a garage, we found a letter that was a firsthand account of the death of Lincoln by somebody who was there. That sold in New York at auction.
Do you ever feel like you’re digging for treasure? That’s the fun. We find jewelry, art pottery, quilts, money that’s
been stashed away. It’s surprising how many people hide things and forget them, or they get incapacitated and can’t remember. It can be a treasure hunt. Then sometimes we find roaches on dresses.
Is there anything you won’t sell? There are things that are illegal to sell—cigarettes, liquor, guns. I come across drawers and drawers of pornography, and with the permission of the person in charge, I throw it out. I certainly don’t sell underwear. We donate those kinds of things to Goodwill.