Thursday, May 21, 2015

A great post by Carol Madden of Estate Sale News, a great website for articles, education and more on estate sales.

Estate Sale Reviews – Why, Who, and When To Disregard

Estate Sales News encourages perspective sellers to do their own due diligence on researching and reading reviews about estate sale companies, however, we want to include a caveat. If you find a unfavorable review that has a response from an estate sale company that you are considering using, you should try to speak directly with the owner/manager of the company for their personal response and explanation to any reviews that are questionable.

As a buyer you are not running the sale and if you are a reseller you should not tell the estate liquidator they are over priced. They are not working for you. They have a contract as a fiduciary with the owner, heir(s), seller(s), attorney and it is their obligation to seek the highest and best possible price. If you attend a sale as a buyer you have choices:

  • Ask the estate sale liquidator if they are accepting bids.
  • Inquire if they will have a day when prices are reduced (you take your chances that the item(s) will still be there.
  • Leave the sale and move on.

As a buyer you are only representing yourself and it is poor estate sale etiquette to write bad reviews about estate sale companies you felt overpriced personal property. It is up to the person who employed the estate liquidator to question pricing (if necessary).

As a reminder, estate sale companies can prevent you from shopping at their sales if you become confrontational and if you continually complain about their prices why are you attending? Use your good estate sale etiquette and do not post bad reviews because you disagree on their pricing.  Try other estate sales and companies to shop at. There are 1000’s of estate sales out there and choosing to buy from an estate sale company is your choice.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

It is my pleasure to re-post (with her permission of course) a wonderful article written by my friend and mentor Julie Hall, THE ESTATE LADY, who is also the founder of the AMERICAN SOCIETY OF ESTATE LIQUIDATORS.  Those of us who have been in this business for many years,  we have our own "rules and regulations" but how about the customers who shop the sales?  Most of us have seen most of the situations happen in Julie's article and love her suggestions to make the whole experience more pleasant for everyone.

Estate Sale Etiquette for Attendees/Buyers 
Be Our Guest, however ... a few simple rules

By Julie Hall, Director of ASEL

Few understand that an estate sale has a life of its own. It truly is a living, breathing, social event that attendees/buyers look forward to all week long in hopes of finding an undiscovered treasure, good prices, and items they can collect and/or resell. For some, it is their only social outing of the week, and the bustling energy and "thrill of the hunt" fuels them until the next weekend. For others, attending sales and buying is a way of life, a "fix" for the estate sale bug that bit them long ago.
While the industry is currently unregulated, there are some rules that do apply (spoken or unspoken). Most estate sale professionals would agree with them, and should consider posting the following etiquette at their sales.
Estate Sales should be a fun experience, but lately, bad behavior has gotten in the way. Perhaps some of the thoughts in this article will help ensure that estate sales are run properly, and that everyone exercises courtesy towards one another, making the experience as pleasant as possible for everyone involved:
  1. You are a guest in someone else's home. Living or passed away, it does not matter. Always exercise kind and thoughtful behavior. Don't leave your Starbucks cup or water bottle on the furniture; don't mess up what the estate sale worker's displayed neatly; be pleasant (even if other's are not), etc. The same rules that apply in our mothers’ homes should also extend to estate sale homes.

  2. Be polite to the estate sale professional. He or she is the one who finds, creates, organizes, deals with a million details, and is the glue that holds the entire sale together for the client and soon-to-be buyers. They have worked tirelessly with their staff and prepared for this day. Be kind to them and be kind to their staff. Being curt is not advisable. Being downright rude, irritable, picking a fight, using profanities, switching price tags, theft, etc., is a good way to get escorted to the door or have a call put into the police. Plus, bad behavior makes a lousy experience for others! Many estate sales are now putting surveillance in place.

  3. Do not speak disparagingly about the estate or its' possessions for sale while you are on the premises. Family may be present at the sale and chances are they have already been through enough, with the recent illness or death of a loved one. 

  4. Never assume. Don't assume because an item for sale is missing a price tag or it is slightly damaged that it will be a yard sale price. Always ask. If you happen to find an item the liquidator or staff has never seen before, give them a moment to look at it and make a decision if it is a family "keeper" or can be sold. Find the decision maker and discuss your query with them.

  5. Discounts: Everyone loves a discount! Each liquidator has a slightly different way of conducting their sale and may or may not discount the first day. Pointing out flaws, talking bad about the item trying to make it seem less valuable, etc., will not work on most professional liquidators. First, they know the values and secondly, they also know the flaws. 

    How you approach the liquidator is paramount. Be nice and kind. Consider saying, "I would like to have this item very much but it is a little more than I wanted to spend. Is there room for negotiation?" A liquidator will be far more receptive to this approach versus "This piece isn't worth anything. It's got a stain here and coming unraveled there. I will only pay $50.00 and not your $300.00 asking price." This response will be met with, "Sorry, but if it's that bad, why would you even want it?" or "I cannot sell it that low." If the liquidator says these things, believe them.

  6. It is not advisable to ask the same question repetitively. Asking "Will you take $10.00 for it?" ten times in ten minutes will only aggravate the liquidator. Some buyers think they can wear down the liquidator with this approach, but it will not work on a true professional. At some point, a no-nonsense estate sale professional will ask you to either buy it or not, or simply sell it to someone else.

  7. Report to the liquidator if you see someone shoplifting. Easier said than done. You wouldn't want someone doing that at your mother's estate.

  8. Indecisiveness to purchase or not: If you want an item and you are thinking about buying it, DO NOT carry it around for an hour or two clinging to it as if it were the Holy Grail, while trying to decide. If it's so special to you, just buy it and lock it in your car. Hold on to it only long enough; let others can have the chance buy it too, if you don't really want it. It's not fair to the estate or the liquidator to miss out on the sale of an item because someone is not physically letting go of it.

  9. Piles of Stuff: Do not accumulate a pile of stuff on the floor in the middle of an active estate sale that is the equivalent to a beaver's dam. It is not courteous to the other buyers having to go around it. Space is usually precious, and your pile is a tripping hazard. Besides, others buyers, who may not understand this is your pile, will start to pick through it.

    It is the buyer's responsibility to pay for that pile, guard that pile, pack that pile, and move it out as timely as possible. Bring an open plastic shopping basket (like the ones found at the grocery store) so the staff can see everything that is in it. Some estate sale companies provide these baskets.

  10. Waiting in line: Waiting in line is part of the estate sale experience. If you are angry because you went to another sale while waiting, or got up late and therefore find yourself near the end of the line, this is not the liquidator's fault, so please don't take it out on them. Arrange to always be the early bird, if possible.

  11. Display of items: Leave things as you find them. If there are clothes on hangers that are on racks or in the closet, they need to remain on those hangers and not be thrown across the room, bed, or floor, as if living in our teenager’s room again. If towels are neatly folded and stacked, please open them to see if they are in good condition, but if you don't want them, fold them again. Estate sale workers work hard to make everything look nice for you.

  12. Closed off or taped off areas ("Do Not Enter"): Do not go into these areas. Period. These are off limits for reasons. It’s not a free-for-all to see what is behind the scenes, or to go digging where the public is not supposed to be. All liquidators appreciate when you respect that.

  13. Never go into or enter the estate using a side door or back door, especially before a sale begins when it is still dark outside. That's a good way to get in big trouble.

  14. Friends and neighbors of the estate: We recognize you had a special relationship with the loved one whose estate we are now selling. But it is not proper to lay claim on a particular item or expect yard sale prices. People do not realize the proceeds from these estate sales go to the client's estate to pay bills, divide among heirs, etc.

  15. An Estate Sale is NOT a yard sale. Please do not expect things to sell for a dime.

  16. Signs at the estate sale: No Parking, Watch Your Step, Loose Handrail, No Animals, Hold on to Small Children, etc. Please respect these signs. Many of these wishes come from the family. We post them to be respectful of the family and for the safety of all.

    NOTE: Please do not park on lawns or block driveways.

  17. Small children: Please hold your small children or at least hold their hands. We love kids, but ask you to keep them close to you.

  18. Please be patient with paying at the cashier table and asking questions. So many bombard the liquidator with multiple questions at one time, and many others will just interrupt. We thank you in advance for your willingness to wait your turn.
Some might feel these rules are too in-depth, but liquidators honestly see all of these issues and many more at each individual estate sale.
Do your part to ensure the estate sale experience is a good one, for yourself as well as for others!

Many of the companies we network with love this business, as we at TIMESAVERS ESTATE SALES do, and some common sense and courtesy will make the whole experience much more pleasant (and fun!) for all of us.  Thanks for the read and thanks to Julie for letting me re-post.


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Newbies: What Can I Buy at an Estate Sale?

We find there is an influx of brand new estate sale shoppers....welcome! We love newbies and please feel free to let us know you are new to the estate sale experience and ask any questions about "how it works." A simple question or two will save any misunderstanding or miscommunication and you will feel more comfortable. Most times the entire house is open for "looking" but other times we have to block off certain rooms at the family's discretion, as they may still be living there, or have items of their own put away. We ask that you respect our clients' homes as well as their possessions, as we are the "keepers" of all of it while they are not there and we are running the sale.

What can you buy at an estate sale? Truly, just about everything. Each home we work in is different and the merchandise varies....but typically we have furniture, home decor, rugs, art, lamps, household items, kitchenwares, clothing, tools, books, records and/or CDs, DVDs, etc. Many homes we prep and setup have antiques and collectibles and many people come to the sales looking just for those items. Sometimes we have fabulous jewelry, real and costume and there are also those collectors who search for just that. What many people do not know....and we try to educate our clients on "do not throw anything away" that many people come to the sales to buy simple day-to-day items for their homes...such as towels, bedding, kitchen utensils, small appliances like coffee makers, toasters, blenders. Many buy clothing and we very often have high end clothing and shoes at very nice discounted prices.....FAR less than you would pay at any store. We are liquidating an estate, so our prices reflect liquidation prices. Of course, our designer clothing items will not have the same $1, $2 and $3 pricing as the lower end clothing, but you will definitely get good buys for sure! A great example from one recent sale were two 100% pashmina shawls with gold threads throughout....these fine shawls cost at least $150 each when purchased.....this lucky lady who bought them recognized their beauty and value and she got them both for $40! She said she will keep one and give the other as a gift. Now that's a NICE gift!

Many people come to the sales for kitchen utensils, most of which cost $1 or so and sometimes bear names like Cuisinart and other nice brands.....others love buying pots and pans and we often find Magnalite pots, LeCreuset and other nicer brands but people also find brand new non stick pans for a dollar or two! You can find towles and bedding at great, low prices also and many times people have these items brand new...we often have bedding sets still in the packaging. How about cleaning supplies? We tell our clients please do not throw them away (you would be surprised at how many do).....most of you know what these products cost in the stores today......most of them are priced around $1 or so....a true bargain.

As for furniture, we have it all....many times a high end elegant home is being liquidated. The family is moving out of state and do not want to pay to move all the lovely furniture...the pricing is a fraction of what they paid for it at high end stores and many times designer stores and the Merchandise Mart! We also have that ordinary furniture in good shape that you may need for your basement, for your son/daughter going off to college. Many people like to "repurpose" furniture, by painting and refinishing, new hardware, etc. and this is the perfect place to find those pieces....for very little money.

We also sell tools, outdoor furniture, garden tools and lawn care items....all at greatly reduced prices from what you would pay at a store. The list is really endless and we never know what we will find inside someone's home. We sometimes have estates of "shopaholics"....those that shop online or from QVC, etc and have rooms filled with brand new items....which we normally price at 1/2 the store price and the second day you would get these items at 1/4 of the store price....AND THEY ARE BRAND NEW IN ORIGINAL PACKAGING! It doesn't get better than that.

So next time you are driving to a store for something, think about visiting an estate sale in your neighborhood (even driving a distance can be well worth it and we have many customers who do just that). You can find all the estate sales in the Chicagoland area by visiting Of course, you can find our sales at:


We sure hope to see you at one of our sales and please stop by and say hi and we will welcome you! If you have any questions as to our policies and procedures, please ask.

The Team at Timesavers Estate Sales

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

What Is The Value of TIME?

A young man learns what's most important in life from the guy next door.

Over the phone, his mother told him, "Mr. Belser died last night. The funeral is Wednesday." Memories flashed through his mind like an old newsreel as he sat quietly remembering his childhood days.

"Jack, did you hear me?"

"Oh, sorry, Mom. Yes, I heard you. It's been so long since I thought of him. I'm sorry, but I honestly thought he died years ago," Jack said...

"Well, he didn't forget you. Every time I saw him he'd ask how you were doing. He'd reminisce about the many days you spent over 'his side of the fence' as he put it," Mom told him.

"I loved that old house he lived in," Jack said.

"You know, Jack, after your father died, Mr. Belser stepped in to make sure you had a man's influence in your life," she said.

"He's the one who taught me carpentry," he said. "I wouldn't be in this business if it weren't for him. He spent a lot of time teaching me things he thought were important. Mom, I'll be there for the funeral," Jack said.

As busy as he was, he kept his word. Jack caught the next flight to his hometown. Mr. Belser's funeral was small and uneventful. He had no children of his own, and most of his relatives had passed away.

The night before he had to return home, Jack and his Mom stopped by to see the old house next door one more time.

Standing in the doorway, Jack paused for a moment. It was like crossing over into another dimension, a leap through space and time The house was exactly as he remembered. Every step held memories. Every picture, every piece of furniture. Jack stopped suddenly...

"What's wrong, Jack?" his Mom asked.

"The box is gone," he said

"What box?" Mom asked.

"There was a small gold box that he kept locked on top of his desk. I must have asked him a thousand times what was inside. All he'd ever tell me was 'the thing I value most,'" Jack said.

It was gone. Everything about the house was exactly how Jack remembered it, except for the box. He figured someone from the Belser family had taken it.

"Now I'll never know what was so valuable to him," Jack said. "I better get some sleep. I have an early flight home, Mom."

It had been about two weeks since Mr. Belser died. Returning home from work one day Jack discovered a note in his mailbox. "Signature required on a package. No one at home. Please stop by the main post office within the next three days," the note read. Early the next day Jack retrieved the package. The small box was old and looked like it had been mailed a hundred years ago. The handwriting was difficult to read, but the return address caught his attention. "Mr. Harold Belser" it read. Jack took the box out to his car and ripped open the package. There inside was the gold box and an envelope. Jack's hands shook as he read the note inside.

"Upon my death, please forward this box and its contents to Jack Bennett. It's the thing I valued most in my life." A small key was taped to the letter. His heart racing, as tears filling his eyes, Jack carefully unlocked the box. There inside he found a beautiful gold pocket watch.

Running his fingers slowly over the finely etched casing, he unlatched the cover. Inside he found these words engraved:

"Jack, Thanks for your time! -Harold Belser."

"The thing he valued most was... my time"

Jack held the watch for a few minutes, then called his office and cleared his appointments for the next two days. "Why?" Janet, his assistant asked.

"I need some time to spend with my son," he said.

"Oh, by the way, Janet, thanks for your time!"

Monday, September 12, 2011

Are Antiques Dead?  A Report from AuctionZip

A few years ago, a fully restored 1940s peddle car would have fetched over $2,000 at auction. Now some auctioneers are lucky to get $500 if they sell at all. At a recent Skinner sale, an 18th century Queen Ann High Chest sold for $2,133 - a quarter of the price a similar chest fetched at the Boston-based auction house in 2004.

Is this just a case of values dropping during an economic downturn or are there other factors at play? Billy Burke, CAI - AARE founder and principal owner of The Auctionarium Inc in Rancho Mirage, CA, believes that high quality antiques will always hold some sort of value but may never bounce back to their "bubble values" of a few years ago. Prices for traditional antiques are also unlikely to rise as aging collectors downsize or liquidate - essentially flooding an already depressed market.

The decline in prices has given rise to a "cheaper than new" mentality. Antique markets and auctions are seen as high-quality alternatives to retail stores with buyers looking for pieces that reflect their personality and fit in with current styles. Why pay $119 for Crate & Barrel's Vienna Side Chair when you can get an original Thonet cafe chair for $15 at a local flea market?

What "antique" means also changes over time. People want what their grandparents had and thanks to the popularity of shows like AMC's Mad Men, retailers from Banana Republic to Target are churning out 1960s-inspired designs. So it's not surprising to learn that this is one of the few segments of the market where values are rising. More than just the latest buzzword, "mid-century modern" represents a style of furniture, product design, and architecture that began after World War II and continued into the 1960s. Known for their simplicity, clean lines and high-quality materials, mid-century pieces fit in well with contemporary designs - making them an ideal choice for younger collectors.

Antiques are far from dead, but the market is changing. In these tough economic times the number of collectors willing to pay a premium for traditional antiques is diminishing daily. Buyers today are less concerned with building collections and more focused on finding functional, affordable pieces that follow current trends or express their own personal style.

Come to our great weekly estate sales and find your own antiques, mid-century modern pieces, collectibles or just that great "something" for your home!

Timesavers Estate Sales

Monday, October 18, 2010


Here are some great tips for estate sale shoppers, posted with permission from

Estate sales can be treasure troves for the bargain hunter. Vintage furniture, barely used items and things you’ve never seen before can be found at nearly every sale. But many of us have never been to one, and if we went we wouldn’t really know how to shop them. Check out our tips.

Do a drive by. A few days before the sale drive by the house. Is it in a neighborhood that seems to have the style you’re looking for? Little clues like swing sets in the back yard or a garage full of tools can tell you a lot about what might be inside on sale day.

Know when you want to arrive. There’s typically a rush in the beginning of a sale, but those rushes are often made up of people looking to complete collections or for something really specific. If you’re just going to browse don’t worry about showing up later in the day when the crowd dies down (and the deals may be better!)

Come prepared. Know the measurements of your rooms and spaces you’re looking to furnish, toss your fabric and paint swatches into your bag. Bring a tape measure and mini screwdriver along. Show up in your largest vehicle so if you find that treasure you can pack it up easily. Pack a few baby wipes for your hands after you touch dusty items. If you’re planning to buy smaller items bring your grocery totes along.

Cash. Bring cash, rarely is any other form of payment accepted. Even if they do take credit cards or checks you are in a better position to ask for a deal with cash.

Check it all out before spending a lot of time in one room. Walk through the entire sale to figure out where everything is. Often the home is rearranged so things you expect to be in the living room might be in the garage, or things from the bedroom are in the backyard. Get your bearings before diving into one spot.

Don’t be afraid to dig. Look in the very back of kitchen cabinets. Step over the boxes in the basement to get to that corner. There’s usually tons of stuff, so not every great item can be out on display. Find someone else’s forgotten treasures with a little digging.

Feel free to bargain. The point of an estate sale is to liquidate everything in the home. Prices are suggestions so get ready to haggle. The more you buy the better deal you’ll typically get. Remember, though, that kindness counts. The nicer you are, the better deal you’re likely to get.

Set a budget and stick to it. Estate sales are overwhelming. If you walk into a great one everything looks like it’s screaming at you to take it home. Know what you’re looking for and what you want to spend. That way, when 18 items are calling your name you can hone in on what will really make an impact at your home.

Don’t buy it just because it’s a deal. Re-nest is all about buying only what you need and love. If it doesn’t have a place in your home don’t take it from theirs. Even if it’s cheap it’ll just end up cluttering up your house if you don’t have a plan for it.

Estate sales are a great place to buy that investment piece. Estate sales are where other people are selling their treasures. Looking for a womb chair? Have you always wanted a teak platform bed? Estate sales are fantastic places to get quality vintage pieces for much, much less. But make sure you know what you’re looking at before you shell out the big bucks – don’t take it home to find out you have a cheap knock off. Flip things over, look for manufactures marks, quality construction and other signs of genuine craftsmanship.

Timesavers Estate Sales

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


My friend Lynn Goldfinger, over at Paris Hotel Boutique,, wrote and thoughtful piece on her blog the other day and allowed me to share it with you.  I found it to be very interesting and also very timely. I am not sure if it is due to the poor economy or not, but I, and my network of fellow estate sale conductors, noted that there seems to be quite a bit more rude behavior at our sales lately and lack of respect, whether it be towards fellow shoppers, estate sale conductors, the personal property of our clients, or the homes we have been hired to temporarily care for.

Lynn wrote:

I was just talking to a fellow antique dealer friend of mine who recently attended a local estate sale. His nicely covered pile of leather bound books held for him at the front door were stolen by another shopper. Where have all the manners gone?

I have been attending estate sales for about 15 years now. It never ceases to amaze me the lack of manners and etiquette at these sales. There are some cardinal rules among estate sale shoppers;

If any item has a "sold" tag, someone has done the work to find it and is going to purchase it. Hands off.
If there is an obvious pile of items in a corner, ask before you rummage. They are probably someone else's gathered treasures that they have set aside because they can't carry them around.

Don't push and shove. Courtesy is rule #1.

Objects are just material things and there is certainly enough to go around, isn't there? I've cut back on my estate sale attendance since I've witnessed some of the most horrific incidents including my girlfriend getting knocked down on the ground for complimenting a man on his turquoise jewelry. He was definitely crazy.

Do you have any of your own estate sale nightmare stories to share?

Are there any comments you want to add on estate sale manners?

Check out Paris Hotel Boutique yourself and discover the treasures that Lynn has gathered for your shopping delight!