A house or apartment — crammed with old newspapers, magazines, framed artworks, overstuffed closets of clothes — is “just what I love to see,” Frances (Fran) Miller says, after 25 years of managing estate sales throughout South Florida.
“I tell the owners not to touch a thing. Many have no idea of the value of what is right before their eyes. Just the other day, I sold an Italian silver soup tureen, made in Milan, for $7,000 from a Kendall townhome. Not an antique, it was created in the 1980s but such high quality silver service from abroad is in high demand.”
What else is hot today?
“Original art, designer accessories, jewelry, vintage clothing, to name a few,” said Miller, who adds, “Anything of gold is normally good resale item but right at this moment, the market for gold items is down. It can change quickly, however.
“Take Thomasville furnishings that were hot in the ‘80s, going in the $7,000 to $8,000 range. Today, they are more likely to command $3,000-$5,000.”
Keeping up with such trends ties Miller to her iPhone. She may keep track of three or four different sales each weekend with up to 5,000 clients and buyers.
”People are just drawn to estate sales,” she said. “Garage sales normally are held by people who are clearing out closets and disposing of clutter any home may collect over the years. Estate sales, however, will generally clear everything from a home — caused by a sudden move, a death or divorce. There’s often a sad story connected with the need to sell the entire household belongings.”
“Early bird” lineups numbering 200 or more often form as dawn breaks at a fine Coral Gables home or Miami Beach estate, including “my regulars who show up at just about any sale we manage,” Miller said.“We have brownies and coffee and chin about what the market is like.”
Originally from Schenectady, NY, Miller often visited her parents in Surfside before making a permanent home here and opening Baron Estate Sales, operating alongside a nursery business off a leafy, quiet street in Kendall.
“This is an especially good area because of the many ethnic backgrounds of those who’ve made a home in Miami-Dade,” she explained.
“Many bring authentic items they’ve inherited, including rare items from little-known countries.”
Does she collect items that go unsold?
“Only on rare occasions — like a watercolor of the Everglades with tiny faces hidden in the trees. I couldn’t resist keeping it for myself. I have no idea of its value. Signed ‘M. Wilson,’ we’ve never even tracked him down.
“I have two loves: my business and animals,” said Miller, whose Baron Estate Sales rates an A+ on Angie’s List.
A board member of the Humane Society of Greater Miami, she’ll often donate unsold estate articles to charities, primarily those intent on saving animals.
For more information, visit www.BaronEstateSales.com or call 305-205-5028.