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Preparing For an Estate Sale: Behind the Scenes at Cal Auctions
It’s been a busy summer for us here at Cal Auctions. Besides moving into a bigger warehouse in San Diego, we just ended a successful St. Vincent de Paul Villages Specialty Auction, we’ve been preparing for a big preview day for the vintage Triumph motorcycles auction, we’ve also been getting a catalog ready for another estate sale that includes tons of vintage collectible dolls, and *breathe* we’re setting up for a fun inflatable jumper sale.
Preparing for an estate sale requires a great deal of time…and coffee.
Every item is tagged with a number for easy identification in the catalog. As the items are tagged, Jody and Maria go through each piece and come up with a description, which is then entered into the database. Sometimes they have to research an item – especially art – in order to find out more about the artist, the materials used to produce an item, whether or not an item is rare, or what the market price is for a piece. It certainly helps when the seller of the estate can share with us any stories or give us information about particular pieces. Depending on how many items are being sold, it generally takes about a week to enter descriptions for all the items.
If there is an item or sale that is of special interest or has a good backstory, we’ll send out a press release to the media. If you recall, in the last St. Vincent de Paul Villages Specialty Auction a John Fery original painting was discovered that brought in a ton of press coverage and ended up selling for $20,300.
After the descriptions are entered, each item is then photographed to capture details for online bidders. Typically there are at least a few hundred items to be photographed per each sale. It’s amazing how a quality photo can mean the difference between the item selling for $50 versus $5!
When the catalog for the sale goes online, bidding officially starts with an auction ending date set for 2-3 weeks later. That’s when the fun starts as we keep an eye on the more popular items and watch the bidding wars that go on right on up to the last second of the auction.
We usually have 1 or 2 days set aside for local bidders to preview the items, which means we have to do a great deal of organizing and visual merchandising to make everything presentable.
After the auction is over there is one day for removal of all items by local buyers. We also set aside all the items that will be picked up by our partner, Pak Mail, to be shipped out to buyers across the country and around the world.
Then it’s on to the next project!
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