Arts & Antiques by Dr. Lori
Buy and Sell at Yard Sales Like a Pro
Dr. Lori, Celebrity Ph.D. antiques appraiser, Dr. Lori hosts antiques appraisal events worldwide. Dr. Lori is the star appraiser on Discovery channel. Visit www.DrLoriV.com, www.Facebook.com/DoctorLori, Lori Verderame on Google+or call (888) 431-1010.
By Lori Verderame
Expert tips can help you find a masterpiece
Many of us have spent a weekend driving around our favorite neighborhoods to shop on other people’s lawns. Typically we end up buying a few things that we really don’t need but just can’t leave a neighbor’s lawn without a watering can, vintage poster and bunch of napkins. You spend $17 and call it a day.
I have been advising people about at yard sales (also called garage sales or rummage sales) for decades. Here are my top tips for those of you who love yard sales — as buyers and as sellers.
The first thing that most people don’t know about yard sales is that they are big business, not small time stuff with neighbors cleaning out old junk. In reality, yard sales are the source of objects that command six-figure price tags in other markets — ones far away from the front yard. That’s right, the high-priced auction and Internet markets for art, antiques and collectibles use yard sales as a major source for inventory. And many of the major auction houses and smaller estate auction houses regularly send out “pickers” to get some of their auction inventory from yard sales. Pickers are sent to neighborhoods where homes have reached the 50-year mark, assuming that their original owners are ready to move to assisted living facilities or downsized residences.
Most unknowing yard sale hosts think that they are offering their items to naïve shoppers and fellow neighbors. Well, be warned. You are competing with the pros. These buyers know what you’ve got, what it is really worth and where to sell it for top dollar, and they are not in the game to tell you that you just made a big mistake putting out that Eastlake table or vintage Guerlain perfume bottle on the front lawn. And your price is all wrong, too! No, these pros are going to get you lower the asking price and take away something very valuable and was once a treasured family heirloom. Know what you’ve got before you schlep it out to the front lawn. At my website DrLoriV.com, you can upload a photo of an object from a yard sale, and I will tell you its value before you buy it. This is how technology will help you cash in. Click on “Send Photos for Review” on the left.
Here is an example that will have you thinking twice before you have that yard sale: recently, a floral still life painting that was sold at Christie’s auction house in New York for $882,500 was originally bought at a yard sale for $29 in Wisconsin. Yep, the original owner’s family didn’t know that they had a priceless piece of fine art, so they unknowingly sold it at a yard sale for $29. The picker working for the auction house got them down to $18, and the auction house later sold it to a fine art collector for a museum for a whopping $882,500. That could happen to you. Find out first.
Tips for Buyers
Okay, you get my point, but you aren’t hosting a yard sale. Here are my tips for buyers:
- Bring cash as it will help your negotiating power.
- Establish a budget and stick to it.
- Be polite, but always negotiate. This isn’t friendship, this is business.
- Celebrity items bring big value.
- If it is in poor condition, leave it on the lawn.
- A box of old jewelry might look like junk, but something of value — like a piece of 14k gold or sterling silver — probably got overlooked in that box.
- Bring a magnifying glass, loupe or at least your reading glasses.
- Ask the seller about the item’s background. Even if they don’t know a lot about the item, they still probably know more than you do about it.
Arts & Antiques by Dr. Lori, Buy and Sell at Yard Sales Like a Pro