My version of an estate liquidation is quite different from the industry standard. At Kuzak’s Closet we are able to please our shoppers and our clients by organizing fun opportunities to shop and liquidating a property at the same time. It only takes us one day which might seem impossible but I’ve got it down to a science and it works.
I love to find solutions for problems and as Kuzak’s Closet started to grow so did the inquiries for our services. I found myself meeting with families that I couldn’t organize a traditional estate sale for due to location, volume of items, value of items, or timing. I knew if I couldn’t help them another estate sale company wouldn’t be able to either so I found myself creating this unique service that has become a blessing for so many families who are looking for a one-stop-shop to liquidate a property. This service allows so many items to be enjoyed, recycled, and repurposed which is my favorite part! I once overheard the owner of another estate sale company telling someone that Kuzak’s Closet estate liquidations are our junk sales and much to the contrary that is not the case. Yes, there is some digging involved but that’s what makes them so fun!
Today I am going to chronicle the events from a recent liquidation in Los Gatos where the option for an estate liquidation was a must because the home was located in a home owners association that did not allow public sales. This is the living room from today’s project and as you can see it’s packed with goodies. I see crystal, beautiful furniture, sterling, artwork, oh and that mirror! Shoppers are going to have so much fun today! The Kuzak’s Closet crew (typically a 10 person team) arrives between 7am-8am and we spend the next few hours digging, discussing pricing, separating trash and recycling, collecting paperwork/photos/valuables to return to the family, etc. In many cases the families will give us a list of items to look for so a smaller team will come a few days before to locate and box those items. For this project we were able to meet with our client weeks in advance and help them come up with a game plan regarding how to handle the items they wanted to keep, auction, and sell.
Hello, decanters, swoon! These babies were snagged right away when the doors opened, their name plates made them a big hit!
And furniture, talk about gorgeous pieces at this home. The family was from Michigan originally so there is no doubt that they had great taste (I’m from Michigan as well).
We are often asked if we put items aside that we would like to buy before we let shoppers inside and for the most part the answer is no. There are times when someone on staff finds something that they can’t live without or a practical item like a case of toilet paper or a bottle of unopened dishwasher detergent but I try to keep to the rule that we don’t buy anything. Also, to be honest, being in the business of organizing and house clearing really helps fight the urge to buy things.
At this property I did find one thing that I had to buy, this vintage Michigan pennant. I mean, how could I let this go home with a shopper, my husband would kill me! It’s a petite one, a size that we don’t already have and my client would’ve been happy to know another Wolverine family is keeping it safe. Go Blue!
At 8:45 Michelle starts to line things up. Michelle doesn’t work at Kuzak’s Closet but she has become apart of the welcoming committee. You will often see her silver SUV outside of the sale with a small breakfast buffet set up for shoppers. She brings pastries, coffee, muffins, you name it. She will also help diffuse any issues that come up with the list and the neighbors.
Here is the list for today’s estate liquidation, 71 shoppers are signed up with another 25 in line after them. There seem to be 3 types of shoppers that attend our liquidations… #1 shoppers that arrive really early, I’m talking 2am-5am to sign up and wait in their cars for the liquidation to open, #2 shoppers that arrive around 9:30 to avoid the lines, and #3 shoppers that arrive between 10:30am-11am to see if there are any treasures still hanging around. Just to be clear, we love all three types! Our estate sales and liquidations have really built a community for me here in California and for everyone that participates. I’ve seen shoppers become friends over the years which makes me so happy!
It’s 9am and everyone in line is ready to shop! You can see the tables set up outside in the driveway, that is the payments and holding area for today’s sale. We always have a key payment area setup right inside or outside the door so all shoppers need to pass by when they enter or exit the sale. I always go outside before we open to welcome shoppers to the sale, give them any information that I can about what’s inside, and offer announcements for upcoming sales and events.
And if you wondered if you saw a dog in line the answer is yes. We have lots of 4-legged shoppers who love the early morning excitement, this guy is a regular! Don’t worry, he doesn’t go in the house when we open, he patiently waits for his owner to shop for books and then helps him carry them to the car.
At 9am the doors open and the fun begins. From a shoppers perspective they act on instinct and try to go in the direction that will be the most advantageous for them. We don’t show photos of our liquidations when the email for the liquidation goes out, just a small list of what is available so it’s always a gamble. We know what most people like so we will direct book buyers to the books, record buyers to the records, garage junkies to the garage, you understand. This shopper loves to entertain and give gifts so she always finds the dining room…
This shopper likes practical items, linens, and furniture if we can talk her into it…
This shopper sells at flea markets so he is always looking for items that his customers will want to buy…
All of these shoppers love to DIG and I love that! Shoppers are allowed to bring in a box or bag to collect their goodies in and it’s always fun to go through them at the cash table when they are being priced out. Oh, did I mention that nothing is priced? Yes, nothing is priced before the liquidation. Whoever is cashiering, typically myself, Sarah, or Taylor will give out a price on the spot and the shoppers pay what we ask. We are overly fair about the prices and I think everyone that participates in our estate liquidations understands that, that’s why they are so popular!
This shopper is a hoot, he is one younger antique dealers that comes on a consistent basis and it’s fun to hear where he’s been and what he’s sold. He has really great taste and would be one of the shoppers I would probably ask to do picking for Kuzak’s Closet if we ever opened a store. Plus he is tall and can reach things on high shelves which is a major bonus if you’ve ever been estate sale picking.
At today’s liquidation I’m cashiering but Sarah and Hope are inside helping shoppers with prices and writing up tickets. There are some items that we have a set price for so if we see a sold sticker on it we will let them know what we are asking. You can see the blue tape on the candlesticks, it’s a sold sticker that this shopper brought with him.
We allow stickers because it makes it clear what has sold and it give shoppers a piece of mind that the item is sold to them.
At today’s sale we had tables set up like a conveyer belt at the airport, I instructed shoppers to pull everything out of bags and slide it down the tables so I could review things for pricing and it worked out quite well. I see a few items on the tables that I would love to have, don’t you!
Shoppers line up to get pricing and pay. I try to move as fast as possible for this process even though it can be tricky at times. The more organized the shopper is the quicker it goes!
This sweet shoppers drove over an hour to get to today’s estate liquidation and it paid off. He found a vintage bag in the garage full of antique planers and hand tools, he typically buys items that I love so it’s always nice to see him leave with a treasure and a smile!
Shoppers with larger items make piles in the driveway and yard. The Kuzak’s Closet team will always be the ones to move items out of the property and will help load trucks/cars with shopper purchases. This sweet dinette set was a real score if you ask me!
Talk about a score, this shopper is a shop-a-holic! I want to get him a bumper sticker that says “Don’t Follow To Closely, I’ve Been Shopping with Kuzak’s Closet.” He restores and sells furniture so it’s great that he is on our list, it’s a win-win for him and the family we are working for.
Once shoppers leave we catch our breaths and get busy sorting the unsold contents of the home. We take care of everything from hazardous waste, shredding, recycling, medical waste, electronic waste, trash, and donations. Here is Hope is a box of hazardous household waste to be sent off to the recycling center.
A big question I get from families and real estate agents is “do you haul everything away?” and the answer is Yes! We take care of EVERYTHING! If it isn’t attached to the house it goes. Here you can see the hauling team in action. Ese is in the middle of shrinking down a metal cabinet to be sent off to the recycling center while Billy and Save load up recycling. For this property we have minimal recycling and trash and only one donation run because so much sold during the sale. In other cases we might take 4-5 truckloads to the dump/recycling center and the van (the big white beast you see in the background) will be busy delivering items to donation centers and locations specified by the family.
We even take care of gross things like rat poop, spider webs, and dust, lots of dust. Each property is broom swept and vacuumed at the end of the day and I will admit that even the cleanest house has some grime once it is empty. We all fight over who gets to vacuum at the end which is how I know I’ve hired the right team! The guys especially love to hear the vacuum running because they know the project is almost finished.
For today’s project the house was totally empty by 2pm. That’s right, we cleared out a 3 bedroom, 2-story townhouse with a garage in 6 hours. We didn’t finished unloading trucks etc. until 4pm but that’s pretty amazing. Only the carpet, paint, window treatments, and light fixtures stayed behind.
And just like that the house is ready for the next step which is most cases is for a real estate team to come and prepare it to be rented or sold. This townhouse is listed on the market already, you can see a video previewing the listing with Brett Jennings by clicking here. I hope you can better understand the popularity of our estate liquidation service after reading this post from the perspective of a family/real estate agent and a shopper. If you feel like you are missing out on the action be sure to sign up for our email list, it’s the only way you’ll find out about Kuzak’s Closet estate liquidations!