Category Archives: Estate Sales Stories

How am I anyhow: Confessions of an Estate Liquidator

Well I am Listening to Beethoven

Antique Hand Painted Bronze Bust of Beethoven

It doesn’t matter which Beethoven piece of music that I am listening to, ain’t it enough that I am listening to the big guy, the one and only, he of the deaf ear, and nimble fingers – the man with all that hair…some of which I must admit to wishing I had had the good fortune to have had the proper gene for. But No! My dad was bald.

But this isn’t about my dads lack of wavy hair, or the families genes or even really about Beethoven either, although that man could and regularly did compose some of the most expressive music ten fingers has ever had the pleasure of elegantly dancing along the surface of a keyboard to.

No, this post is about How the Hell are you Martin? Me? Well, I am just fine, thanks for asking…the last week was a bit tough in places but I got through it, although there were times I had sufficient doubt…whether I’d make it through; I did!

Did I tell you about the guy who lived on the hard side of town? That he collected coins? That he liked his guns? Of course not, that’s privileged information. I gottah keep stuff like that to myself, so don’t go blabbering it around…OK?

Or How about the Elegant Pacific Heights woman who lived in, yes you guessed it – one of those fine homes you pass while on your way to your own much more modest home in a different part of the town in which you live. She had a mighty fine house, lived a nice life, and so on…I didn’t tell you about her? Of course not…I can’t! I am not suppose too. My clients pay me the big big bucks, to keep my mouth shut about the details of their lives and that’s just what I do, I stay quiet…well mostly I stay quiet.

Here’s what’s true about the families in both of the above kinds of homes. They each needed my help, so if you are like me, an estate liquidator – You help them…and that’s exactly what I did. I helped them.

But I don’t do it myself, thank God, I have an incredible staff…Yay to each of you, Valetta, my wife, Katherine my daughter, Lesley, Vina, Andy and Justin…you guys rock, and rock well.

Oh, one last thing, today a blind man came to shop at our estate sale. And lest you think that’s so unusual, his friend, a blind woman, came to our sale the day before…

So That’s my week, from rags to riches and back again…in the homes of the modest, looking for the unexpected, in the rich mans home wondering why the family didn’t care to leave more…much, much, more.

Martin Codina

Where to Purchase Our Book "Liquidating an Estate"

Ignore Local SEO, and Your Estate Sales Business Will Falter

Oh No! I can’t Fail, I hired an Expert Web Guy…

What is local SEO: Your Local Estate Sales SEO can best be understood by entering the keyword “Estate Sales” into a browser search box along with the name of your city or geographical region. The results of that search can reasonably be described as the Local results particular to that city or geographical area. This will allow you to see how Google ranks your site in contrast to others.

Where is your site: Try this, open a browser, enter the keyword Estate Sales, add the name of the city or region you do business in and hit your enter or return key. If your site is not among the first 10 or so results, then the way your website, or its contents are constructed are not fully optimized.

The Majors Dominate Local Estate Sales Search Results

Who are the Majors: Estate, Craigslist, Oodle, Yelp, and there are a few others.

Why you should care: There is only one reason to care about this: Business, your business, the way new clients might find you, is minimized and marginalized, or it will seem to be non-existent to those who use the web to find their local contacts.

Take Back Your SEO Turf, after all, It’s Yours

Who Controls Your Website: If you are not actively engaged with your site, if you do not have access to it, or do not personally know how to upload content to your site, then because your competition does, you will falter. If you think about your site like once or twice a month, and are unaware that the Majors, and even some of your bigger local competitors think about their sites everyday, then you will falter, and may even fail.

Oh my! What ever will you do: Read, read, read about SEO, and then and only then consult with the right people. Study the Majors, and your local competition. Learn how to upload content to your website.

Why ever would you take the time to improve your SEO…

…because it will both save, and make you money…

Delegating this to others: I would only recommend delegating this very important task to others after you yourself have done the research necessary to fully understand what I have written above. No one understands you, and your message better than you. After you have taken the time to compose your message, have learned how to post content to your website, and have at least a working knowledge of SEO, then I think it is reasonable to hire a web person to improve your SEO.

But I don’t Have Time: Here are three questions – 1. Do you have time to wait for your phone to ring? 2. Do you have time to watch others succeed? 3. Do you have time to waste hoping to be noticed? If you do not have the time to do any of these three things, then you’ll have to learn to make time for learning about SEO, and how it will substantially improve your business.

Martin, Why Should I Listen to You About SEO?

Take a look at these three sites: San Francisco Estate Sales (Fine Estate Liquidation, Inc.), The Do It Yourself Estate Sales Guide, and of course the site you are currently on – Fine Estate Sales Blog, chock full of articles and post, many of which rank on the first page of various Google searches. Here’s a link to our Article Archive. I wrote and created these sites! And I wrote and created them as a 52 year old guy, who four years ago didn’t even type, never mind that I was also at the time completely ignorant about computers…If I can do it, so can you.

Prepare Yourself For 2010: From late December 2009 to the end of January 2010 I will work with up to 10 different Estate Liquidators. Estate Liquidators who want to extend themselves, who want to succeed, who are not afraid to be the Estate Sales Leaders in their local cities or regions.

But I Have Conditions, Luckily There Are Only 3 of Them

  1. You have to be prepared to change.
  2. You must call me at least once a week.
  3. You are willing to learn to navigate the admin portion of your site.

This is going to cost money, a fair bit of money…

How Much: I don’t know how much I will charge each of the Estate Liquidators I will work with until I see their sites. Some sites will have simple changes to implement, while others will be more difficult to implement changes on. So each site I work with will be treated as a project, and I will generate a project cost projection for each of them.

Here’s a Cost Range: $1,500.00 to $5,000.00

Is That a Scary Number?

Of Course It Is: But is it as scary as doing nothing? Is it as scary as watching the majors gobble up your local SEO? Is it as scary as waiting, and watching, or expecting a miracle to bring people to your site?

Inaction is the same as: Capitulation; is the same as folding at a card table because the stakes are misunderstood, is the same as agreeing to the success of others at the expense of your own businesses survival.

When you are ready, send me an email or give me a call…

Martin Codina
CEO Fine Estate Sales and Estate Liquidation, Inc.

Email Martin Here

Follow Me On Facebook
Follow Me On Twitter

Where to Purchase Our Book "Liquidating an Estate"

Audrey Hepburn’s Wedding Dress

Audrey Hepburn Wearing The Dress She Gave Away

Audrey Hepburn wedding gown 2

(Offered at Auction By Kerry Taylor: Estimate £ 8,000 to £ 12,000)

In 1952 Audrey Hepburn was engaged to marry James Hanson. She was in Italy to film her first starring role alongside Gregory Peck in “The Roman Holiday. It is 7 years after the devastation and ravages of WWII.

I wonder if you know that Audrey Hepburn spent the last years of that war in the Netherlands, hoping she would survive the Allied artillery shellings, and the famine the Dutch endured as a result of Operation Market Garden.

In that short seven years, a lot happened for Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn Roman Holiday Poster

She Became a Star

Audrey Hepburn decided after already having her wedding gown designed by the famous Fontana Sisters to call her planned wedding to James Hanson off; stating “That the demands of their careers would keep them apart most of the time.”

Here is the Wedding Dress Audrey Hepburn Was Going To Wear

Audrey Hepburn wedding gown front

The Fontana sisters who designed this gown were renowned for their highly romantic ball and bridal gowns. The sisters Zoe, Micol and Giovanna founded their business in Rome in 1944.

While Audrey Hepburn was filming `Roman Holiday’ with Gregory Peck in Rome, she approached the Fontana sisters and asked them to make her bridal gown. Signora Micol Fontana said that the 23 year old Hepburn was ‘young, fresh, and on top of the world’.

But this was a wedding that was not to be, Audrey was not going to say “I Do.” She had other plans…

Once she had decided to call the wedding off, the dress she had had made, still at the Fontana Sisters shop, needed to be dwelt with. And this Audrey did with such generosity and grace that it leaves me with a smile still, as I hope it does for you as well.

She Gave The Dress Away To Amabile Altobella

Audrey Hepburn wedding gown back

Never heard of Amabile Altobella? Well of course not, she was a young girl from the town of Latina, Italy. You see Audrey had asked the Fontana Sisters to give the dress away, saying “I want my dress to be worn by another girl for her wedding, perhaps someone who couldn’t ever afford a dress like mine, the most beautiful, poor Italian girl you can find.”

So Audrey Hepburn Helped to Create A Dream Wedding

Audrey Hepburn wedding gown bow

Amabile Altobella, was a poverty stricken young Italian girl engaged to be married to a farm worker named Adelino Solda. Here is a quote from Amabile, “I have had a happy marriage, so the dress brought me luck.” Indeed, she and Adelino stayed married, had three daughters, and five grandchildren, which is more than can be said for most Hollywood weddings…

(All images from this post came from Kerry Taylor Auctions.)

Written by

Martin Codina

Follow Me On Facebook
Follow Me On Twitter

Where to Purchase Our Book "Liquidating an Estate"

The Estate Sales Circus

…or How to Drive an Estate Liquidator Crazy…

Cole Brothers Circus paper sign promoting The Great Florenzo

(Sold By Dan Morphy Auctions for $770.00)

I kind of think that most Estate Sales Professional start their day fairly sane – that they have a reasonable expectation that they will be civil and cordial to their customers while conducting their sale – that they will endeavor to try and sell their clients items to their estate sales customers in as easy of a fashion as they possibly can.

…but then something sometimes happens…

Houdini in the Amsterdam (Holland) Prison Jan. 1902 poster

(Poster Sold by Swann Galleries for $65,000.00)

The Estate Sales Process Gets Weighted Down By “The Haggle.”

Estate Sales Professionals have to walk a very taunt and thin tight rope. They have to satisfy two kinds of people. Their clients who want the most income for their personal property and their estate sales customers who are looking for the best, or in their minds “A reasonable purchase price.”

This leads to all sorts of Estate Sales Acrobatics…Like Tumblers at a Circus…

La Montie Family circus poster
Poster Sold By Cowan’s Auctions for $510.00

Part of the fun of going to estate sales is finding or negotiating for bargains. It’s intrinsic to the process. Negotiating the price helps me sell and my customers buy, about 90% of all the personal property contained in a home during a 3 day estate sale. So let’s negotiate. No problem there…

And let’s celebrate the conclusion of our negotiation as a Win for both of us….

Sterling Super-Bru chromolithographed tin sign

(Sold by Cowan’s Auctions for $1,667.00)

Three Negotiating Suggestions

  1. Stay Loose
  2. Remember there are two sides to the process.
  3. The other side is not the enemy.

Also, there are so many estate sales out there, and there is so much “Stuff.” If you don’t successfully conclude a deal at one estate sale you may find it at another just down the road.

If you want to learn more about Antiques and Collectibles Values, then read my post about how to get 10% off Prices 4


Martin Codina

Where to Purchase Our Book "Liquidating an Estate"

How an Estate Sale is a little like Warehouse 13

Where would you rather go…


Jay Robert's Antique Warehouse sign with link follow Warehouse 13 Logo with Link Follow antiques warehouse sign with link follow


To an Estate Sale of course…

Less scary, no bumps in the night, and drama without the terror; Estate Sales have Warehouse 13’s essential ingredient “Resonance with the Past.” Estate Sales for the most part, have all the the suspense and the surprise….and most important, unlike an Antique Warehouse, where you can’t get many of the details of the previous owners life; things you buy at an estate sale come with a more complete story.

This is why I think that Estate Sales are so popular…

I call it the soup to nuts paradigm…The “Every Way” to buy and sell anything you may ever need to furnish a house…

Edwards Soup Tin with Link Follow antique mystique com product page link follow

Of the two cans, which one do you think has a “Warehouse 13” connection or a possibly hidden past. Is it the soup or the nuts…?

It’s the old Edward’s Desiccated Soup tin. Here’s a quote lifted from the book “Ullesys” written by none other than James Joyce .

“Too many drugs spoil the broth. I know it myself. Dosing it with Edwards’ desiccated soup. Geese stuffed silly for them. Lobsters boiled alive.”

And no, I don’t know what it means, but imagine if Arty knew that you found this can at an Estate Sale…

Sign Me An Estate Sales Professional Who Loves His Job…

Martin Codina

Where to Purchase Our Book "Liquidating an Estate"