Specialists in Estate and Content Sales from Your Home

Second-hand Sleuth: Hooked on Esate Sales

They are well organized and a great place to find reasonably priced stuff
Jo-Ann Dodds, Toronto Star

Years ago, I had a neighbour who we knew only as Israel. He had a daily garage sale at his home, where I picked up some fab stuff along the way. Now he has a stand at the St. Lawrence Market on the north- west side. Israel was constantly going to estate sales, and he would pick up the neatest lamps and other amazing collectibles.

With his bright red hair and lime green satin vest, he cut quite a figure. He constantly exhorted me to go to estate sales, and I kept saying, "Oh, okay," but never acted on it. My chance finally came when Michael Liepner, a retired teacher, phoned me about his company, The Next Move (416-254-2789).

Michael will arrange estate and contents sales for anyone who's downsizing. All items are priced to sell, he guarantees a clean house and takes a modest commission. Anything left over from the sale will be donated to the client's favourite charity.

A few items that interested me when I visited a home recently where he was holding a sale were a celadon malachite lighter, ashtray and bowl ($25); a '50s fridge that worked ($65); a '50s blond wood coffee table, ($65); and feather eiderdowns ($25).

I actually bought two '40s fabric panels at a dollar apiece. The gentleman who owned the house was a furrier and had boxes of beautiful industrial threads priced at 25 cents each.

I spent $4 and came home with a chenille bedspread, the fabric and four spools of thread. Not bad.

Everything in the tiny house was for sale: the oversize TV, ($1,000) the armoire in the dinning room ($1,600), a set of Empress china (19 pieces at $125) and a complete art deco bedroom set for $995, which included a dresser, two bedside tables, and a bed. In the kitchen there was a smart '40s electric stove for $125 and in the basement, a wonderful old Crosley TV for $50.

For people buying the big ticket items, Michael has access to movers that charge $45 an hour for the services of two men. And since most people don't carry a thousand dollars in their pockets, he will take cheques with the appropriate identification, as well as cash. (Most antique dealers and others in the second-hand trade prefer cash, and having money on hand usually allows some leeway on prices.)

I have never gone the estate sale route before, but now I am hooked. They're well- organized, usually starting at 8 a.m. Believe me, people get there early and line up. A lot of the dealers do the sales and stock their stores.

But Michael, whose personable and easygoing manner must make it easier for people who have to get rid of their belongings, plays no favourites. He gives everyone a ticket to get in, and interested people can leave their E-mail addresses to be notified of future sales.

Contents and estate sales are not just a great way to find reasonably-priced stuff -- especially if you want to set up a new household or refeather your nest.

They also offer a golden opportunity to see many different styles of interior décor in a home setting.

Michael Liepner

ESTATE FINDS: Michael Liepner, who runs estate and content sales in people's homes, displays some of his own finds, including an elaborate candlestick and the heavy oak doors.