Many people are under the impression that an estate liquidator is someone who puts on glorified yard sales. Nothing could be further from the truth! Professional estate liquidators wear many hats on any given day with a common goal for their client as well as for themselves:
In the process of doing so, we must possess a great deal of knowledge to guide our clients along the way. We don’t just organize and set up for a sale. We:
Below you find just a sampling of what professional estate liquidators engage in every single day, early mornings to late evenings, and seven days a week.
We have bled, sweat, and cried our way through some estates, and dealt with poor working conditions too. There isn’t much we’re afraid of; we tackle the task at hand like a linebacker.
We wear this challenging badge with honor because we love what we do, no matter how much we get beat up in the process.
Detective – We sort through years of long forgotten items that have been crammed in boxes and cubbies. Often family cannot find important papers (titles, Will) or a sentimental item, but many times we find them. We know where to look, have a good idea of where things could be hidden, and we know what these items are, or how to find out. This is the fun part!
Archeologist – We dig and dig and dig. By the end of the day, we are covered in dirt. We unearth one layer at a time searching for old artifacts and treasures. We handle carefully and lovingly the items we uncover which have value or meaning. This is painstaking, but necessary.
Magician – While it appears to the client that we made it all disappear as if by magic, we know the levels of complexity it takes to empty the estate. “Can you do a sale this weekend?” There is no magic. Only hard work, the ability to professionally multi-task, knowing the right people, and selecting the right staff.
Bellhop – Who’s carrying the family baggage; the client, you, or both? Stay focused and advise as necessary. Our ears are bent with family lore (and who did what to whom)!
Firefighter – Estate professionals put out fires every day, whether it comes from prospective buyers or the sellers, or anything in between, including the emotions our clients go through.
Police/Law Enforcement – We keep peace and order in these estates, enforce our ethical policies, “law down the law” according to the rules for how each sale should be run. These are in place to ensure a pleasant estate sale day, encourage good behavior, and keep the flow moving.
Counselor/Clergy – We listen, validate, encourage, support, and hear confessions and stories. It is part of our job to offer support, including emotional support within reason.
Accountant/Administrator – Pay the bills/employees, handle the contracts, handle brokering details, tally estate proceeds; we do it all.
Umpire – Calling “safe” and “out” for not only attendees and clients, but also monitoring our staff conduct and ourselves as well.
Train Conductor – We prevent derailment, get everyone on-board, and get the clients where they need to be.
Nurse/Doctor – Not only do we help heal many of our clients who are heavy laden and would have a very difficult time going through the process alone, we must remember the most important rule: First, do no harm. Clients come first. In the literal sense, we have all mastered first aid, as we bleed in nearly every estate!
Construction worker – We build this business from the ground up and create a very strong, honest/ethical foundation to weather the storms. If the foundation is not strong, we need to rebuild, remodel, tear down, or bring in a new addition.
Referee – Keeping the peace on all sides, at all times.
These are just a few of the many hats estate sale professionals wear on any given day, but there are many more that often go unnoticed; employer, exterminator, garbage man, dumpster gal, recycler, haul/drop-off person, organizer, companion, cleaning service, broker, miner, etc.
How much can one truly professional estate liquidator accomplish? It’s all in a day’s work!
Hearing the stories about these military and old west items makes me miss my dad who passed away many years ago. He would invite us to watch John Wayne, William Holden, Jimmy Stewart and Lee Marvin in all the old war movies and westerns. We grew up with patriotism and an honor for and love for our American heritage and our West Coast history. There is something very reassuring in the handling of old lariats and spurs. Bent and ill formed felt hats covered with dust and a pair of old military boots in the corner drum up major nostalgia. I pour over a box of medals and ribbons from this Marine sharp shooter who I was representing in this estate sale. He is what one would call a "man's man". His children were not interested in these things...so sad that they did not give him honor in death. I am here to help the quiet widow who has her special box of memories to hold on to and cherish.
A tent calls to us from the road where we followed signs as bad as an Irishman’s directions “just a little farther”. We trudge through a mowed hayfield alongside a storybook red barn, cash in hand, anticipation in our hearts. Barn Sales. There is a community connection as well as an undercurrent of competition that bind these folks together. Standing in a huddled mass at the rope divider blocking our best views, we pass the time with stories while waiting in line, stories that are fantastic and yet they keep us hoping for the next great find. The hunt for the goods is part of the thrill, as is being a part of the theater of it all.
It is time and the rope drops and all pretense and camaraderie disappear as we each bound for the barn and piles that await. Every man for himself. The barn shelves and folding tables are filled with all that is charming and curious. Rustic, cobwebby farm implements and broken china. Crates and orchard boxes. Old tin cans filled with nails and doorknobs. Oil cans and tin drawers. High back spindle chairs and an old bench make it’s way into my pile where I exhort my husband to stand guard. I make my way over to the tables at the side of the barn where I put my hand gently on an old boudoir doll and miniature dollhouse furniture in an old box. Into my tote they go. Spying an old tin S&H sign I make for it. Too heavy to handle with one hand I motion for my husband who catches my anxiety and with one eagle eye still on our pile he comes over and grabs the sign. Tag teaming is nice in the competiveness of a Grass Valley barn sale. Topping our finds off with a few lug boxes and an old rusty hook we go to the owner to start the dance. My husband growing up as a Missionary kid in Mexico was weaned on market bartering so he takes the lead offering a bundle price so low that he is close to insulting the owner but he says it with a smile and finally we arrive at a agreement and we are off to the next sale. Around noon we are done and get brunch at our favorite breakfast spot after washing our hands thoroughly from the dirt and grime.
I spend a lot of my time selling and marketing but it is the searching, digging, discovering, and acquiring that draws me to my profession. I love the architectural salvage, dusty chandeliers, apothecary jars, old crocks and mining tools that you can discover while stepping into an unused nineteenth century barn, descending into the basement of a neglected old house. Prying open the cobweb-sealed lid of a steamer trunk shoved in the eaves of an attic, these are my frontiers. We find ourselves in fast paced lives and I cannot breathe without surrounding myself with artifacts of beauty from a simpler time. It anchors me and calms me.