Lately more and more people have been coming by the shop to ask about my sign on the front door of the shop about our Estate Buying Program. I figured why not just put it out there on the website to make it easier for everyone?
Not that you shouldn’t come by — you should! Because the shop is fun whether you need something, just want to browse, or are looking for a fun date (nothing bonds people faster than laughing and talking about the beautiful — and wacky — things in antique and vintage shops).
But this also gives me an opportunity to put almost everything in one spot if they’re asking what we can do for their estate needs.
The short answer is that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. That’s partly because everyone’s situation involving an estate is different.
Maybe you’re out of town and totally unable to get here to deal with a family members’ belongs.
Another person might want to comb through things first for sentimental items and then enlist help.
Still another might want to parcel things out in dribs and drabs, rather than all at once, but wants to be able to go back to the same source for dispensing with things.
There’s as many situations as there are people and families and guardians and executors.
So…with that in mind, I’m always going to encourage folks to get in touch with me to so that I can get a general picture of what your needs are. To save us both time, I advise sending an email first with a very brief outline of your situation and a general picture of the kinds of items (and amount of items) that you’re looking to dispense with. A few pictures will help me get a quick insight into whether your needs and our shop services mesh.
Whether I think we can help, or whether I’ll advise you to look in a different direction, you’ll always get an answer back from me on next steps.
And let me tell you what I generally look for, though please don’t take this as the only option. Always call or send that email anyway!
Generally I am keeping in mind the needs of my shop, Staunton Antiques Center, as well as some decorator projects and AirBnB business needs that I have.
For the shop, the best options include substantial pieces of unique furniture, starting with Victorian and Mid Century Modern pieces (1950s -early 1970s broadly speaking). Also of interest are traditional early American styles and authentic farmhouse style pieces and primitives, meaning more rustic — pie safes, cabinets, benches, etc. I also look for unique designer furnishings, vintage and antique patio and garden, and striking or unusual couches, dining suites, or chairs.
In art, textiles, and collections (such as figurines, sports memorabilia, record albums, etc.) I am going to look for either a unique and singular statement piece or a large size collection so that with all the pieces on display it shows well as an ensemble in the shop.
While there is china and silver galore out there, my interest on these fronts tends to be in striking sets in their fullest form, although as in all things there’s always an exception. Maybe you have a to die for platter or an unbelievable soup tureen — again, on individual or smaller sets of pieces, the best bet is to email a photo and let me know about the item(s).
I could go on and on offering examples and I would because…I love this stuff and love talking and writing about it. But the examples are truly endless so I’ll keep this short.
To best prepare you for what it means to liquidate an estate, or parcel out pieces here and there, it’s important to know that estates sell for wholesale prices and below. The reason for this is that the buyer has to turn around and sell those items at retail prices. So the important thing is to know is what you want or need to let go of, and accept that the selling price to a dealer will be fair, and on the lower side.
Of course you have other options. Photographing, researching, writing up, and selling your estate on ebay or Etsy or Facebook are always options that might fetch you a higher selling price. The trade off is that it’s time consuming and in many cases involves shipping, or making yourself available to meet buyers either onsite or an agreed upon location. Selling direct to me or another estate buyer might net less per item, but with many items sold at once, and the hassle factor reduced, many estates find this the preferred method.
Again, anything that we can’t use, or if we can’t help directly, doesn’t mean it’s a total loss. Where we can advise you to go to different resources we will. And anything that we buy we will arrange to transport ourselves or for our professional movers to pick up at no expense to you.
We will always give you our best advise, including if we can’t help at all but would be willing to put a piece or two on consignment.
Whether your needs are for a full estate liquidation, or you don’t have an estate at all, but are wondering about consignment, I can tell you that we put a limited number of items in the store on consignment. By necessity, most of these pieces are substantial — either as a stand alone piece or as a set of like pieces or a collection. Most things we are interested in we prefer to buy outright. But again, occasionally we will consign a piece.
In consignments we have both a percentage that is our take, and terms for the length of the piece being on the floor. We will agree to consign for 3-6 months at a time.
While this little overview is designed to just give you a brief insight into our process, we do encourage you to email us — or pop by the store — to learn more about what we can do for you when you’re faced with handling the tangible property remains of an estate.
We hope to make things both easier and more profitable for you. The stress and many details of dealing with multiple items — from the valuable to the downright comical (50 plastic butter packages used as tupperware, anyone?) can make swift analysis of items and a good game plan for the best way to disperse them invaluable. We’d like to help you if we can.
— Ellen Boden, Proprietress, Staunton Antiques Center