Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Sales of a Lifetime



Call them “Garage Sales on Steroids.” Sure, you’re still browsing through other people’s stuff, but unlike their garage-based counterparts, estate sales are becoming big business.

On any given weekend an estate sale can pop up anywhere – cars and customers lined up for blocks, clogging normally quiet streets. The antique dealers, racing in to see what they can scoop up to re-sell at their shops. The bargain hunters, searching for that $1 treasure they can take on “Antiques Roadshow” in the hopes of finding out it’s worth millions. And then there are the simply curious, out to see what kinds of interesting or hideous artifacts a person has collected throughout his or her life.

“The estate sale business has grown tremendously,” said Martha Gragg, proprietor of M&J Estate Sales in Oklahoma City. “I have been doing this for 46 years. I joined my mother, who has been doing it for 60 years. We have definitely seen a lot of changes.”

An estate sale is just that: liquidating the contents of a person’s home. It doesn’t always revolve around someone’s death – sometimes the seller simply wants to downsize – but often does; many times survivors find it easier to sell a loved one’s belongings after they pass on rather than have family squabbles over who gets what.

“It really makes sense for a family to hire a company to liquidate their loved one’s home, because we do not have the sentimental attachment to certain items they may have,” Gragg explains. “We price things according to what they are worth, and we price them to sell, whereas a family might over-price some things simply because of sentimental value.”

But there’s often plenty of genuine financial value to be had; a crucial way in which estate sales differ from their lower-rent garage sale cousins is in the type of merchandise that’s available.

“Essentially the entire house is on sale,” Gragg says. “Many customers come to estate sales because of the quality of furniture that can be found. For example, furniture from years ago is constructed of solid wood, where a lot of today’s furniture may be mostly pre-fabricated.”

The hot ticket items these days are “mid-century” classics from the 1950s (think “Ozzie and Harriet”) all the way to the more garish, polyester-laden “Brady Bunch” era of the ’70s.

“It’s amazing to see what people will buy,” Gragg laughed.

High quality generates high levels of interest, which can create its own problems: parking is often limited, navigating neighborhood streets can be tricky as shoppers rush home with their treasures – and it’s important to remember to be polite to the neighbors who live nearby. Matt McNeil, owner of OKC Estate Sales, says he typically employs a police officer to help keep the crowd’s roar to a minimum.

Organizing an event like this might give some of us pause, whether because of feeling like an intruder or simply not knowing where to begin; but McNeil says going into a person’s home for the first time is just another day on the job. “I am a professional,” he explains, “and the first thing I normally take note of is the floor plan of the house, rather than the contents. I will look at where to put my police officer, where I will set up the cash register and also see what the parking situation will be like for my customers. The contents of the house are secondary.”

Keeping a good attitude is important, he adds, because quite often customers will be up close and personal. Estate sales take place in the home of the stuff’s previous owner, so it’s usually very tight quarters with a lot of people packed into a very small space.
“Most customers are very courteous,” McNeil said. “Then there are others who would rather quibble over the price of a ten-cent item.”

So is it worth braving the crowds and possible contentiousness? That’s up to you, but bear in mind that these events have become increasingly popular for a reason: the thrill of the hunt and the exhilaration of finding beautiful bargain pieces are very real.

McNeil offers these final words of advice: “Know the method of payment; some estate sales are limited on their use of credit cards and will only accept cash or checks. Remember to lighten up and have fun. And probably most importantly, be aware that we don’t take returns. After all, you’re not shopping at John A. Brown.”  

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »You Might Like

Absolute Bedlam

Football is a big, big deal around here, especially if the teams competing both have “Oklahoma” in their names. As longtime rivals the OU Sooners and OSU Cowboys move toward another marquee matchup, Slice takes a look at the history, atmosphere and myriad joys of the madness that is Bedlam.

Happy in the 405

Civic development and housing demand, knockout sunsets and stellar sports franchises and a shared unquenchable spirit … there’s a lot to be grateful for about living in central Oklahoma – and we’re happy for the chance to share some of it with our readers.

Accounting for Taste

A give and take about the joys of parenthood, the value of personal authenticity and setting a goal of being more goal-oriented with star CPA Melissa Prophet.

Add your comment:
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

February 2019

Through March 2019, Oklahoma Contemporary is partnering with Madison Square Park Conservancy to bring Erwin Redl’s installation Whiteout to Campbell Art Park. Whiteout is comprised of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Campbell Art Park
NW 11th and Broadway
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma Contemporary
Telephone: 405.951.0000
Contact Name: Lori Brooks
Website »

More information

Visitors to Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary will be able to let their imaginations run wild as they travel back in time with life-size animatronic dinosaurs along a half-mile...

Where:
Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
1 Nature Place
McKinney, TX  75069
View map »


Sponsor: Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
Telephone: 972.562.5566
Contact Name: Stephanie Jennings
Website »

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

The most adrenaline charged motorsports experience for families on the planet is back - Monster Jam is one of the only sports where male and female world-class drivers, some generational rivals,...

Cost: Tickets start at $15

Where:
Chesapeake Energy Arena
100 W. Reno Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK
View map »


Sponsor: FELD Entertainment
Telephone: 800.745.3000
Contact Name: Kasey Littlefield
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Through March 2019, Oklahoma Contemporary is partnering with Madison Square Park Conservancy to bring Erwin Redl’s installation Whiteout to Campbell Art Park. Whiteout is comprised of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Campbell Art Park
NW 11th and Broadway
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma Contemporary
Telephone: 405.951.0000
Contact Name: Lori Brooks
Website »

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Through March 2019, Oklahoma Contemporary is partnering with Madison Square Park Conservancy to bring Erwin Redl’s installation Whiteout to Campbell Art Park. Whiteout is comprised of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Campbell Art Park
NW 11th and Broadway
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma Contemporary
Telephone: 405.951.0000
Contact Name: Lori Brooks
Website »

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Through March 2019, Oklahoma Contemporary is partnering with Madison Square Park Conservancy to bring Erwin Redl’s installation Whiteout to Campbell Art Park. Whiteout is comprised of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Campbell Art Park
NW 11th and Broadway
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma Contemporary
Telephone: 405.951.0000
Contact Name: Lori Brooks
Website »

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Through March 2019, Oklahoma Contemporary is partnering with Madison Square Park Conservancy to bring Erwin Redl’s installation Whiteout to Campbell Art Park. Whiteout is comprised of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Campbell Art Park
NW 11th and Broadway
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma Contemporary
Telephone: 405.951.0000
Contact Name: Lori Brooks
Website »

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Through March 2019, Oklahoma Contemporary is partnering with Madison Square Park Conservancy to bring Erwin Redl’s installation Whiteout to Campbell Art Park. Whiteout is comprised of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Campbell Art Park
NW 11th and Broadway
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma Contemporary
Telephone: 405.951.0000
Contact Name: Lori Brooks
Website »

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

JAKE OWEN Multiple chart-topping singer/songwriter Jake Owen’s new single “Down To The Honkytonk” is rapidly climbing the Billboard Country Airplay charts. Owen’s songs...

Cost: $50, $75, $100

Where:
Osage Casino's Skyline Event Center
Tulsa, OK

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Through March 2019, Oklahoma Contemporary is partnering with Madison Square Park Conservancy to bring Erwin Redl’s installation Whiteout to Campbell Art Park. Whiteout is comprised of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Campbell Art Park
NW 11th and Broadway
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma Contemporary
Telephone: 405.951.0000
Contact Name: Lori Brooks
Website »

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

America’s largest interactive comedy murder mystery dinner show is now playing at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel. At The Dinner Detective, you’ll tackle a challenging crime while you...

Cost: $59.95

Where:
The Skirvin Hilton
1 Park Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: The Dinner Detective
Telephone: 866.496.0535
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags