Friday, July 16, 2010

Cabin Fever...

Back in the winter I conducted a very important estate sale of a wonderful collection of fine antiques and collectibles. We had people traveling several hours to shop this sale. It was one of those sales, as a liquidator, you wanted everything to go perfect.

The setting was in a very quaint town that I have had several other sales in before. I’ve never had a problem with neighbors or police for that matter in this town. It was in a great location on a dead end street.

The sale was setup beautifully. Every item was itemized and inventoried from the smallest book to the magnificent corner cupboard in the dining room. I had been give adequate time to prepare so nothing was rushed. In addition to our normal staff we hired more workers to make sure everything would run smoothly.

It had been cold a snowy week. Because of the in climate weather and sale being so largely publicized, we placed numbers on the porch for people to pick up to hold their spot in line so they didn’t freeze to death. We placed 100 numbers outside the night before. All of the numbers were gone by 8am that morning. Cars began to roll in. Soon they were lined up and down the street. Some began parking in and blocking neighbors driveways, soon they were parking on both sides of the street. Nerves soon wore thin and many began getting very rude. It really was becoming a NIGHTMARE.

At 9am the sale opened. It was like a rush at a concert. People pushing, grabbing, breaking, falling, and arguing. Luckily I was working the showcase so I could stand behind it to keep from being mauled. I think cabin fever had really gotten into these people. I’d never seen anything like it before.

All hell had broken loose. One customer was thrown out for swapping price tags. Another loudly took his bad morning out on the check out people. Another customer who was parked on the street had his mirror torn off of his car and later received a citation for leaving the scene of an accident when he wasn’t even near his car when it happened.

Around 10am a man walked in yelling “Who’s in charge here?” I began waving my arm and saying “I am.” But he didn’t seem to hear me due to the mob of people still in the room surrounding the showcase.

He got louder, “Who’s in charge here?”

Finally, I managed to get out from behind the showcase and spoke with him. I found out he was chief of police in this town and he wanted me to control the traffic. I told him that I would. And then he slaps me in the face with a question I will never forget. “Where is your permit for this sale?”
I looked at him puzzled. “What permit?” I asked as I have never been asked this before at my other sales in this town. My heart sank fast to my knees.

He boldly began to announce that because we had no permit he was shutting us down. Everyone was to put their items down and evacuated the premises immediately. My first thoughts were how will I ever get all of these people back here. He then told me that if I got a permit I can reopen. So my good friend Nancy stepped up and told me she knew where to go and she could get this permit. She was like a saint sent down from heaven at that moment. All of the customers left. My concern now was how will I get them all back. Within 30 minutes she called. She had the permit! He allowed us to reopen and continue on with the sale provided we managed traffic.

Later we found out the real reason for the shut down was the parking issue. Not having the permit was just a technicality that gave him the leverage to get everyone out of the sale. So we could redirect the parking issue. My wonderful husband stood out there in the cold for 3 days directing traffic in hunting clothes. While also having to play mail man for the neighborhood because the mail carrier couldn’t get near the houses.

As a result of this chaotic first day someone stole my signs. After calling the police and filing a police report. The police then spoke with several neighbors. Within 30 minutes the signs were found thrown in the front yard.

After all these problems our customers did return and for the most part managed to get all their items they had prior to the shutdown. After the sale was finally complete the executor was very pleased with our work. He was wonderful to work for.

Even with all of the obstacles it was a sale I would definitely do again.

Next week I will be blogging about the fall line up of antique & collectible shows that we will be attending and some we won’t be able to make so you can get your schedules ready!!

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