Who Buys Your Stuff?
After doing this for years, we’ve become aware that often what’s paramount to our clients is that their treasures and/or the treasures of those they loved go on to be treasured by others. So we always endeavor to provide you with information on where these treasures end up.
For example, we have a customer who comes to our sales always in search of old hand-written recipes. She’s a chef and is saving to open her own food truck, and she loves to resuscitate heirloom family recipes. We always call her when we find a trove. This probably garners little more than a few bucks for the bottom line, but how wonderful to know that your kind and lovely great aunt will have her pie recipes live on in infamy?
We have another regular who is always looking for vintage postcards and stationary. She’s an artist and she incorporates these in her medium. How great is it to know that the postcards your grandmother meticulously kept throughout the decades will now be a part of someone’s creative vision?
Items like fine china, heirloom fur coats, large dark-wood antique dining sets, crystal, silver plated serving ware – I could go on and probably will later – are lovely things that have probably held legendary status among family members throughout their lives growing up, but truthfully the market of today doesn’t support their past value. But that’s not to say someone new won’t buy them and cherish them and remember for the rest of their lives the day they found such a treasure.
For example, we had a client once who was simply overwhelmed by the multitude of boxes filled with family photographs dating back to the 1800’s. All the descendants had gone through and taken what they wanted, yet dozens of boxes remained. I went through them all and sorted them by decade. The early American photographs were purchased by a man who was so excited to gift them to his father, who collected these kinds of pictures and actually attended nationwide conventions of like-minded aficionados. The 40’s–60’s photographs went to another artist for a personal piece he planned to hang in his home. The 70’s photographs had a preponderance of trailer-related images (the couple had traveled the country in an Oldsmobile station wagon towing a cool-looking Scotty camper), and a young man bought these simply because he thought they were “awesome.” (Truthfully, they were totally awesome.) We might have made ten entire bucks off these boxes of photos, but it was still worth the hours of work because we understood how important it was to our client that these pictures not end up in a landfill.
Other examples of where your treasures go: One customer was so happy to buy a number of silver-plated pieces because her house had been recently robbed and she was able to match and replace some of the family serving ware. Another customer was over the moon to by a vintage mink stole for $60 to present to his wife on her birthday. We have a single mom who comes to buy boxes of food, as often our sales have still-full cupboards to be cleared. We have another customer who is an enterprising young lady who just started her own home-cleaning business, and she comes to claim any left-over cleaning supplies, of which there is always a lot. I admire customers like these. It’s smart to come to estate sales to buy these items on the cheap, not to mention how it helps our client clear out the estate and helps the ecology by recycling these goods.
Also, we are affiliated with a number of movie-set and TV-set designers who come in to scoop up the strangest things – in fact, one literally works for the TV show Stranger Things! The costume designer for Stranger Things once came and bought an entire closet of 80’s clothing. The set designer for the movie Jumanji once bought a basement load of early 90’s clutter in order to design a set that depicted, you guessed it, an early 90’s basement. (How cool to go watch Jumanji 2 and know that the basement scene is comprised of things from your family history!) These set designers often send up a flare for what they need (“URGENT: I need a late-70s chunky-wood bedroom set with double-mirror dresser!”), and we’re quick to fill their needs. We’ll always let you know which movie or TV episode you can watch to catch glimpses of your childhood horde.
Again, I decided to write this page because, after years of doing estate sales, it’s become apparent to us that one of the most important wishes (perhaps THE most important) of our clients – the people entrusted with the dissolution of the estate – is that these personally treasured items go to others who will personally treasure them. These are not items of monetary value, they are items of intrinsic value, and we will let you know all the stories behind who got them and how happy they were to find them.