Sunday, July 7, 2013

Holy Cow! What a Sale!


Billed as WV's largest estate sale this year, I can honestly vouch for that after attending this weekend's opening day, just nine miles north of Charleston on WV I-79.  Helen's House of Antiques (formerly known as a lumber warehouse), all 20,000 square feet of its contents, is being sold in a series of weekend estate sales by one of our local antiques dealers, Chuck Hamsher, of Charleston's Purple Moon (Purple Moon Estate Sales).  Holy cow!  They even had a wooden cow for sale (about the size of a calf)!  See for yourself (first two photo credits, Douglas Imbrogno):
It's hard to even imagine the magnitude of the work that went into organizing this series of events, knowing from personal experience in hosting estate sales how taxing the detail is.  The warehouse has been sectioned off, so as to stage the sale into a number of weekends.  The host has said it will continue for as many of four weekends (July 5-7 being the first of the series), until the contents diminish.
The photo above shows only one section.  On this first weekend, there were eight sections distinct to me and sister M, who went with me on this fantastic sale.  You can see, in the upper section of the photo, makeshift walls and plastic, separating other sections of the warehouse yet to be uncovered.

Having attended the owner's attempts at auctioning her inventory prior to her death, and knowing the widower was quoted as saying they "lost their shirt" in that venue, we weren't expecting to find good prices, and thought we would be in and out of the sale.  In fact, we were betting many of Helen's original prices would be what the host would start with on the first weekend. Wrong!  We were pleasantly surprised!

Very quickly, our hands were full, and there were no baskets or shopping carts.  We found a wicker tea cart  (for sale) with two shelves, vintage aqua/green - like sea glass - and started loading our smalls. Others soon caught on, but not before they would look at our cart, and all the smalls loaded on it, and think it was another display for their personal picking!  "Sorry, these items are ours" - we must have said that at least two dozen times.  They were loving our things as much as we were!  I got to the point where I was saying, "I'll sell it to you once I get outside"!  I scored a super vintage bingo cage and stand, complete with Bakelite handle and wooden balls, and I could have sold that at least six times!

And packing the cart?  Let me just say - we had things stacked and nested almost twice as high as the cart was, a spectacle to behold, at the very least.  For big ticket items, you had to grab a staff member and have them write a ticket up, giving you a copy, with your name, phone number & time on the ticket.  I guess if you didn't claim it by day's end, it was up for grabs again.  We only had one such item.

Two hours later, we found ourselves in line to check out, hot and sweaty.  M said she felt like she had just finished cutting the grass, and my mascara felt like it was melting.  Another dealer from our mall was there, and she said "it's like going to the Y - this is a workout!".  There were no drinks or food (a suggestion we made for following weeks), and we did not use the restrooms.  We loaded our car, found we still had room, and went back in for another round.  The second time was not as intense, we didn't purchase as much, and the crowds were beginning to thin out.  But it was definitely no cooler inside with fewer people. Multiple fans were trying their hardest to tame the humidity and rising temps.

So many bargains!  So many people!  M said afterward that she felt like she had gone to a party - we talked with so many folks (some we knew, some we didn't), felt so festive that prices were so reasonable, and got all jazzed up with the finds we scored!  Definitely a dealer's paradise.  The only caution I would mention is that the warehouse definitely had a dank odor about it (those allergic would need to be aware).  We tested many cabinet doors and drawer slides that had problems operating properly as a result of moisture issues. Using the sense of smell was key, too.  If it couldn't operate and it smelled, it was a definite 'No!'; if it smelled and could be laundered or scrubbed, a definite 'Yes!'; if it was questionable, then it boiled down to price and whether the risk was greater than the potential reward.  But prices on furniture were cheap:  a drop-leaf cherry gate-leg table-$50; original wood, Hoosier cabinet with flour sifter and two side cabinets-$300, as just two examples.

The sale will continue as long as the hosts find it weekend-worthy, through the remainder of July.  If your're traveling along I-79 in WV, take exit 9 (Elkview), and it's just quick jaunt off the exit.  There are even food and lodging along the exit, so it would be a great stop for a night.  Happy hunting!  By the way, the cow was stickered at $2,000, probably the highest priced item there.