Chicago Antiques Guide

The Chicago Antiques Guide Blog

Estate Sale Percentage - You Get What You Pay For

Posted Tuesday, May 02 by Brian

I just received a phone call from a woman who is looking for a company to do an estate sale for her. The only question she asked was, "What is your percentage?" I said it is in the 30-35% range. She answered, "Hmmph!" and hung up. This is not only rude, but not very bright. She asked no questions about what services are included in the percentage. She asked no questions about my qualifications. She didn't ask if I had liability insurance, or the number and qualifications of my staff. Her only criteria was price.

I could give her names of a number of people who would do the sale for 25%, but would not rearrange, display, and research her items. They would put an ad in one newspaper and quote prices on the fly as customers walked through. They might have one or two helpers, or they may do the sale alone.

Here are just a few anecdotes from "professionally run" estate sales:

Several years ago I appraised an antique map for $5,000, that was purchased at an estate sale for $20.

Someone called me to do an estate sale, because the person who had run an estate sale for them the week before, had only one newspaper ad, and the address was missing. Obviously, no one (or only a handful) showed up.

I was attending an estate sale when I caught a flying 4 year old at the bottom of the basement stairs. The conductor had left the door at the top of the stairs on the hinges, in a narrow hallway. A customer who was in a hurry, closed the door without looking and launched the little boy (who was unattended) down the stairs. The little boy was unhurt, but I cut my hand on the railing. I did not sue, but parents of the little boy probably would have, if no one had been there to catch him.

Believe me, this is just the tip of the iceberg on the subject. Please remember, no matter what you are buying, price is only one factor in making an intelligent buying decision. When buying a "service" this is even more critical.

Leave a comment

Weblog Archives