Category Archives: Estate Sales: 30 Day Diary Of An Estate Liquidator

Estate Sales: 30 Day Diary Of An Estate Liquidator Day 17

…Each day for the next 30 days, I will write about my experiences as an Estate Sales Professional…

Haggling is fine at an Estate Sale, it is expected and it is a necessary part of the estate sales process, however being rude or aggressive is not…

Day 17:

7:00am and a bit past the crack of dawn: I am making more estate sales signs in my garage, because after all, if a shopper doesn’t know where you are, they can’t shop…and shopping is what it is all about in the estate sales game. We are on day two of a three day Estate Sale in the Twin Peaks Area of San Francisco. In general, it has been a fine sale so far, no real hassles, lots of sales, and for the most part the fact that this is an Easter Weekend Sale has not affected our sale in the least.

It is very close to 10:00am: I meet Andy and Vina at the corner of Clarendon and Fair Oaks, to give them a sandwich board sign that Andy then ties to the top of his car, we talk about our reaction to the sign monster, you remember him – he’s the guy who acts as a one man vigilante – taking down even lost pet signs from various lamppost and such, throughout the city. I’ll just say, that Andy and I do not have a favorable opinion of the sign monster…we think, there must be a rock that the sign monster can crawl back under and stay.

10:30am: Did I mention coffee? Did I mention too much coffee? Well I had too much coffee to drink this morning, so I am talking motor mouth style a mile a minute: first to a customer about some small Persian carpets, then to someone else about the Royal Daulton Figurines we’re selling and then there is the books and record guy – we get into a discussion about the value or lack of value that Classical records have. He tells me about how some 78rpm Robert Johnson records are worth a small fortune. And speaking of records, that’s almost like speaking about the music business, Joel Selvin walks in and kicks the edge of a carpet, like a used car buyer kicks a tire and ask “How Much?”

My Coffee Jag Last Until about 1:00pm: Maybe I need better coffee, coffee that will help me stay alert without re-infusions of extra cups of the Mighty Joe applied judiciously throughout the day.  Katherine, then asks about lunch. She says “On behalf of the entire crew, when can we have lunch?” Oh dang! I hate to stop everything to go and get lunch, but not as much as I dislike facing a hungry and ravenous estate sales crew…easy food is always best when working an estate sale, and there pretty much is no easier food to eat than a burrito, so  burritos it is: our favorite burrito place near the neighborhood where we are having this estate sale is Gordo’s, on 9th and Lincoln. I have been going there for 30 years, always good, simple, never fussy or fancy, and the thing I like most is that the place is clean.

2:30pm or thereabouts: I am with a dealer at an undisclosed location. I am buying stuff, that’s right I buy antiques and collectibles stuff, like all the time…The Twin Peaks Estate Sale is being staffed and is in the capable hands of our crew. Here is the most logical place to let you know that Lesley, our newest staff member, has been patiently waiting to see her name pop up here. Her exuberance is palpable, and infectious, if there was ever a person you wanted to have help you as an estate sales shopper, it is Lesley – make sure you say hello to her, and that you let her know that both Valetta and I thank her for being so diligent, loyal, and fun to be around.

At about 4:00pm: I am back at the estate sale having a conversation with a kind and generous woman named Marti, about the advisability of letting other dealers know about what you know about various categories of antiques and collectibles – whether or not this compromises a dealers ability to stay in business…I get her point, it could and likely does make her job of securing quality antiques and collectible at an affordable price, more difficult.

5:30pm: I get in my car and make the trip back home, first stopping for gas, and I thank provenance for all that we have, all that we have learned, and for all that we can give…


All The Best

Martin Codina

Where to Purchase Our Book "Liquidating an Estate"



Estate Sales: 30 Day Diary Of An Estate Liquidator Day 16

…Each day for the next 30 days, I will write about my experiences as an Estate Sales Professional…

When interviewing an Estate Sales Professional, always check references – then choose one who cares, can listen, and has a proven track record.

Day 16:

Estate Sales Day Fri: Today is an Estate Sales Day, which means that I am in my car out and about just after the roosters crow, to put up estate sales signs…I cross the mist and fog shrouded Golden Gate Bridge about 8:00am and head up Park Presidio on my way to 19th Ave.

My wonderful wife Valetta and I are driving into the city together…we talk about biz, and the need for a vacation, perhaps the Azores Islands off the coast of Portugal….far from the maddening rush…not likely though, we are at the beginning of the Estate Sales Season here in Northern California…we’ll have to put our thoughts of vacation away for now…

Estate Sales Signs: In the city of San Francisco, there are a laundry list of sign ordinances. Like in most cities, in SF, they are more or less ignored. Which works out for us, mostly because we are respectful, and always remove our signs at the end of each estate sale…However, every once in a while a Sign Vigilante springs up and under the cover of anonymity, and animosity, they will take it upon themselves to enforce the law, by removing all of our signs, even though most of our signs conform to the SF Sign Code.

To date the sign monster has removed and stolen about $1,000.00 worth of our signs. So this morning I am carefully putting up our signs paying closer attention to the letter of the law, to make sure that our estate sales signs stay put…

10:00am: The Estate Sale begins when I open the door, and count out 15 people and let them in like a swift wind from an open sea. It is a literal rush to be the person who opens the door, to see the serious intention on the faces of the first people in line, as they try to gather their bearings and make micro adjustments to their searching strategies in order to be in the right room, that has the right stuff, so that they can have a successful estate sales shopping day.

10:01am: It’s controlled pandemonium now, only one minute after I let these first shoppers in…there are 60 other people in line pressing to get in, and the house begins to hum with the activity of shopping…ten minutes more and I let in another 5 people. Now there are 20 people in the house, and the heat level goes up several notches…5 minutes later I let in 5 more people for a total of 25 people – all shopping, talking – asking questions; their eyes beginning to get that glazed look that comes over a normal human being under stress. But these are estate sales shoppers, no amount of confusion or commotion will stay them from their task of shopping…and shop they do…

10:20am: What was a hum, has become a cacophony, a quickening and escalation of sound…no one has left yet…their voices and the beating of their racing hearts shifts the estate sale into high gear…and it will go on like this for the next 4 hours. Unrelenting.

2:00pm The Line Finally Twiddled: We Begin to think of lunch – perhaps the hardest part of the estate sales day, is that there is never time to take a break, no way to eat your lunch from start to finish without an interruption…I eat my Turkey with Jack Cheese on Focaccia while listening to a man tell me the story of how he met his wife, wonderful woman that she is, at a gun show at the Cow Palace a number of years ago; how this was the most wonderful thing that ever happened to him…I nod, truly interested and take another bite from my sandwich.

5:00pm And All Is Well: We lock the door, a tad worse from the wear, but all the better for the experience…Trade this lifestyle? Not on your life!





All The Best

Martin Codina

Where to Purchase Our Book "Liquidating an Estate"


Estate Sales: 30 Day Diary Of An Estate Liquidator Day 15

…Each day for the next 30 days, I will write about my experiences as an Estate Sales Professional…

Before conducting your own estate sale, at the very least hire experts to check your pricing, selling cheap is one thing, but giving away treasure is quite another!

Day 15:

It’s estate sales set up day…won’t have much time, can’t go into the blow by blow of my day today…setting up a house for a sale is time consuming…

My most favorite part of a day is when the phone rings, and I am surrounded by three or four staff members…each with price stickers and sharpies in hand…waiting for me to give them a price for something…and I say “Hello, Fine Estate Liquidation, this is Martin Codina, How may I help you…” This is a marvelous business. One I hope to be in for all of my days…and a few more after that too.

Estate Sales Professionals…I mean how many of you know what an Estate Liquidator Does…?

I was thinking about all the “Antiques and Collectibles” types of shows on TV these days…how very interesting they each are, how people want to know, I mean really want to know all about what I call “The Story.”  Pawn Stars is nothing without that story. American Pickers is nothing without that story. Cash & Cari is nothing without that story.

“The Story” Is Not About The $ Value of Our Stuff

Oh yeah, I wanna see the stuff too…I want to stare in disbelief at a $400,000.00 Navajo Chiefs Blanket just like you do. But, I also wonder about the guy who brought it in. How long did he and his family have it? Was it their Grandfather or Grandmother who gave it to them?

I also get very curious about all the near misses with disaster that that blanket had to go through in order to one day find its way to the center stage of the Antiques Roadshow. The mildew it missed in the basement. The leaking roof in the attic that it somehow avoided. Let’s not even go into Kids. How this blanket avoided being made into a fort or spread on the floor of a teenagers garage to sop up an oil leak from the teens 57 Chevy Bel Air project car.

What I am trying to say is that all antiques and collectibles are survivors. To even still exist, each one has had to pass through the eye of a storm…avoiding destruction.

Estate Sales Are All About Stories Too

But for me the the thing that these TV shows still haven’t really captured is the nitty gritty of the tough decisions that millions of Americans face each and every year; when it comes to the personal property they have inherited…the stocks and the bonds, and the real estate, they know what to with these…for the most part they call experts.

But What About Stuff? What do you do with it? How much is it worth? Who do you call? Well there is a small but growing group of people, mostly former antiques dealers and collectors, maybe even a picker or two, who have quietly been building an industry… It’s called Estate Liquidation, and an Estate Liquidator, is one who conducts an in house Estate Sale.

Stay Tuned as the say in the TV Business, I’ll write more on this subject, as time permits…

This Site Is My Gift:To the elderly who don’t know where to turn for Estate Sales Information, to their sons and daughters who are trying to figure it all out, and to the Estate Sales Professional, who desires only the best for their clients…


All The Best

Martin Codina

Where to Purchase Our Book "Liquidating an Estate"


Estate Sales: 30 Day Diary Of An Estate Liquidator Day 14

…Each day for the next 30 days, I will write about my experiences as an Estate Sales Professional…

Estate Sales: A positive way to Clear a House, Raise Funds, and most importantly Recycle all that was old, in the way, or preventing a family from moving on…

5:00am: I am drinking a strong adult beverage – it’s called Coffee, and thinking about the estate sales business…this is one of the stranger businesses…one that is so under the radar…unknown about by most people, and when used by them, used once, and then almost totally forgotten.

People are so in a hurry when it’s finally time to call an Estate Liquidator, that they often make the mistake of calling a charity or a hauler instead. That’s right, because estate liquidators have been so lax in getting the word out about there services, people who are most in need of their services, have no idea that there is even an event called an Estate Sale or that there are people called Estate Liquidators out there who stage them…This is our number 1 industry woe…

Sometime ago I wrote about this here: Estate Sales: The Billion Dollar Business You Need To Know About

8:00am, and Now Fortified by Coffee: I am driving. So what else is new? Last year, I put 23,000 miles on my car, mostly driving to and fro between sales calls in the San Francisco Bay Area. I am on my way to All Star Rents in San Rafael, and I am going to pick up a 14′ Truck, because you guessed it…today is moving day. My capable staff and I are going to empty our storage of the many items that have been consigned to us, and we are going to stage these awesome items of wonder within an Estate Sale in the Twin Peaks area of San Francisco.

By 12:00pm: We arrive at our Twin Peaks Estate Sales House, and begin shifting and rearranging that houses contents, and subtly at first and then more deftly, we begin to add about 100 boxes of antiques and collectibles to the mix of this estate sale; this will take days to entirely accomplish.

Steinway Sales Alert: Today, in between everything else, I sold a Steinway “M” Grand Piano…How cool is that? Answer: There is not much cooler than a Steinway Piano Sale…

Did I Mention: My phone rings all day…got one today from a guy in Missouri who wanted to sell me all of his sterling silver flatware – I asked…Isn’t there someone more local to you that buys silver…? I gave him some tips for how to find a silver dealer in his area…

We Finish Our Moving Task by 4:30pm:

Back At Estate Sales Central By 5:30pm: My office – home away from home, even though it’s in my home…my place to unwind with my third strong adult beverage of the day – Coffee, and the computer, and many artist names to look up online…hoping one of them is worth at the very least a sweet million…


All The Best,

Martin Codina

Where to Purchase Our Book "Liquidating an Estate"


Estate Sales: 30 Day Diary Of An Estate Liquidator Day 13

…Each day for the next 30 days, I will write about my experiences as an Estate Sales Professional…

Think of the fee an Estate Liquidator earns for conducting your Estate Sale as the best money you’ve ever spent…a pro in your corner turning stuff into gold…

As Usual It’s 6:00am: I am listing…and looking things up. If I were an MIT Scientist you’d call it researching and cataloging. Hard to believe that there are Estate Liquidators out there who still fly by the seat of there pants…thinking they know most things already, that they don’t need to research stuff, cuz they know sooo much, bout the biz.

I say, please lead me to their estate sales, I got a pocketful of cash, and I am wanting the deals, like you, I am here to have fun and make a profit.

Once: There was an estate liquidator in my area who patiently explained that he and I were different; why he charged way less. He said, “He was a Liquidator and that I was a person who Staged Events…” I am fine with this, and by the way, I am sure that it has not escaped your notice that people who go to Antique Shows pay more…I am comfortable with that, having an elevated clientele, who like shopping our sales, because they are clean, clearly priced, and well run…and yes the public will pay a bit more for this…

Oh, what was the point I was making: Oh yeah, I do research, lot’s of research. Mostly early in the morning – in those quiet hours, before the night has completely realized, that it is day that has come, with all the intricacies of its busy details.

10:00am: Finds me back in the Bank Vault counting Collectible Silver, Gold and Platinum coins…we did 4 more safety deposit boxes today…putting each drawer safely back into the vault when we were done…

12:30pm – Lunch for The Almost Famished: Well I am near the Glen Park neighborhood of San Francisco, so I go to Canyon Market – order a Cold Bar-B-Que Chicken Sandwich with Jack Cheese, Cole Slaw and Bit of Mustard on it for lunch. And where do I eat this sandwich? In my car of course…I love eating in my car…kinda.

1:30pm: I meet Valetta at a house in the Twin Peaks Area. We are there to sign a contract for our next Estate Sale, which I am happy to report is this weekend – and when I say that this house will be packed with all sorts of cool things, consider this description as falling short of the mark, this sale promises to be more than memorable…perhaps even spectacular.

2:30pm…yes, I am at another appointment: I got a call a few days ago from a man, who was needing to downsize. He and his wife and child had all been in the process of packing, shifting things around, and trying to figure out what to keep and what to sell before Valetta and I had arrived. This man had once upon a time been in the diplomatic corps, and was stationed in Thailand and Viet-Nam for many years…the house had more statues of Buddha than your average country side temple…on the walls were old shop signs painted with kanji script…lots of teak furniture and such…all very nice…but, and in the estate sales business, there is often a but – this guy and his family really has more thinking to do…which is always fine by us.

My 3:00pm Quick Detour: Valetta and I also went to a few estate sales, that just happened to be on our way, and I scored a big marooned colored oil jar…Nice! Paid dearly for it to, and hope someday I can recoup my money.

By 4:30pm: I part company with Valetta, to make my way across the Oakland Bay Bridge to visit a client with some jewelry items for sale, which of course I buy, paying fairly for it, and am sure, I will make a bit for the effort.

6:30pm: Home Safely, and thinking about the estate sale we’re going to have next week…hope to see you there.


All The Best,

Martin Codina

Where to Purchase Our Book "Liquidating an Estate"