Listed below are some questions that I am often asked when I go to visit a potential client. These answers apply to our company "Hills Estate Sales" and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of other estate sale companies.
1. What is your experience in doing estate sales? I taught elementary school for 25 years and during this time I frequently helped my friends/ relatives with estate sales. After retiring from teaching, I worked for an estate sale company for many years and later branched out on my own to create my own company. I have assembled a group of knowledgeable people to help me with each sale.
2. How do you know how to price the items? Many items are common to each sale and we know their current market value. Items we do not know the value of, we research over the internet, or call experts to help us. We have at our disposal gold, sterling, glassware, gun, mineral/rock, and other experts. We also have an appraiser we contact to help us with unusual or rare items.
3. Do you have a website? Yes. Our website is www.hillsestatesales.net. We have over 1,000+ email addresses of potential buyers that we email about each sale. These customers signed up at one of our sales, so we know they are interested in attending estate sales. We are very proud of our website because we feel it is very informative and full of good information for potential clients and customers. For each sale the site features the front page with a detailed Table of Contents letting the customer know exactly what is on each page of pictures. There will be anywhere from 8 to 17 pages of pictures with each page containing from 45 - 70 photos of items in the sale. Address of the sale, time, date, and directions to the sale will be detailed on the front page.
4. How do you advertise? For each sale we put ads in all local newspapers, SETX.Com, facebook local sale sites, facebook Hills Estate Sales site, often the Peddler, and our website.
5. What are the days of the sale? Days are scheduled on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Thursday is full price day with no discounts. Friday all items are 25% off and Saturday all items are 50% off. Occassionally there may be an item or two that the owner will not wish to discount and we respect this. If it is a very small sale, we may only have the sale on Friday and Saturday. Then, Friday items will be full price and on Saturday items will be 50% off. Sale begins at 9am and ends at 3pm.
6. Do you sell items before the sale? NOT USUALLY, we consider this unfair to our customers. This could happen if the owner request that the family be able to purchase ahead of time. This would be done BEFORE pictures are put on the internet.
7. How do you handle the checkout at a sale and how many people are working? We have two checkout stations at each sale. We usually have 2-3 people inside the house (depending on the size of the sale) and two people outside. Customers who purchase items outside pay outside. Inside purchases are paid inside. We do not allow customers to mix both.
8. What forms of payment do you take? As a rule we take cash or credit cards only. Credit cards require at least a $50 purchase or more. To use a credit card a customer must furnish a drivers license and the name on the license MUST be the same as on the credit card. No American Express.
9. Do you price all items? YES!!! To not price each item would mean we must come up with a price "out of our head" when asked and we don't feel this is in the best interest of our client. If we have many of the same item (such as books, DVDs. Tapes, etc...) we usually do not price each one. The more valuble ones will be priced, but for the rest, we put up a sign stating the price for each and our checker will be aware of that price.
10. How long does it take you to set up a sale? Depending on the size of the sale, it usually takes two/three weeks to set up a sale. We need time to clean, display and price each item.
11. How far in advance should a client schedule a sale? It is always best to schedule as soon as possible. You need to get on an estate sale company's calendar to ensure they can start the sale when you need it. Often booking is a problem.
12. What do you charge? We charge by percentage only. The percentage depends on how much labor and time will be required to set up the sale. We meet with the client at the residence to determine what the percentage will be.
13. Do you cater to dealers? NO. Although we love and appreciate all the dealers that come to our sales, we do not give special preferences to dealers. They are subject to the same rules as are all our customers.
14. Do you take bids on items? Sometimes, but not often, and only if we know the bidder. We need to know that the bidder is serious and can depend on him/her to purchase the item once the deal is done. If she/he does not we miss a sale and our client loses.
15. Do you bundle items? Rarely, We do not allow a customer to gather up items and then give them a bundle price. But, if we have excess of one particular item left on Saturday, we might give a customer a "deal".
16. What Happens to Items that do not sale? The owners always determine what becomes of the unsold items. I suggest three options for them: 1. Owners keep the items 2. Owners donate items to charity 3. I can arrange a free removal of all the items. This person is independent from me, but I have used him for years with no problems.