Personal Taste Is Always In Style, Estate Sales Organizers Say

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Folding tables laden with lace doilies, candlesticks, sterling silver jewelry, and other miscellaneous objects are set up on the wooden floors of a bungalow-style home off Treasure Island Drive in Amagansett.

Every pot, pan, wine glass, and ceramic plate in the kitchen sits within a neat group of similar items on the white marble counters, and each group is labeled with yellow masking tape and a corresponding dollar value.

Just a week and a half before going into closing, the two-story house still holds all its contents, which have been removed from the walls, cabinets, and drawers for display.

The home is being prepped for an estate sale, organized and presented by White Goose Estate Sales, where the owner and founder, Abigail Cane, hopes to sell all the contents to anyone from private buyers to dealers and interior designers. White Goose cleans the home, organizes and merchandises its contents, and conducts the sale at the house. Prior to the sale, Ms. Cane meets with the homeowners to determine prices for specific items. Then the keys are turned over and the rest is left to Ms. Cane and her small staff. Any items that don’t sell are donated to the East Hampton Ladies Village Improvement Society.

The lifeless feeling within the home would all change a little after 1 p.m. on Friday afternoon, Ms. Cane predicted earlier that day.

“The sale starts at 2, but people will start lining up around 1:30,” she said of the crowd of 50 to 75 regulars who typically frequent her estate sales as well as other ones in this area.

“I really like a frenzy,” she said. “I think it has good energy, and people are like, ‘Oh darn, I wanted that!’ You want that feeling of ‘Oh I got that first!’ or ‘I’m so excited because everyone else wanted it.’ There’s something about it that’s a little bit like a sport.”

Ms. Cane founded White Goose Estate Sales four years ago, after inheriting the home of her estranged father with all of his belongings.

“I didn’t know my father,” she said. “He died in North Carolina and was basically a hoarder. I was his only family member.”

Ms. Cane said in 2009 after her father’s death, she spent five months “weeding through” his belongings.

“It was the greatest gift he ever gave me,” she said. “He left me this house full of stuff, and it was all things he’d written on and touched. Whatever it was, it was put there for a reason and I got to know him through his things. And then he gave me this,” she said, referring to her now successful business.

After returning to the East End in November 2009, Ms. Cane, who holds a master’s degree in social work, said she realized how therapeutic the cleaning process was.

“It was an amazing beginning, middle, and an end,” she said. “And watching all of these things that really are extremely usable. This is brand-new, why shouldn’t it have another life?”

This season, Ms. Cane said teak patio furniture has been a best-seller at many of her sales, along with All-Clad pots and pans and other kitchen-related items.

“They’re expensive and there’s something about the teak when it gets to be a certain age, it gets to have a certain finish to it that doesn’t look like the way it looks in the store,” she said. “It’s like they’re getting the perfect used pair of jeans.”

Similarly, kitchen accessories, dishes, and cookware are all in high demand, said Ms. Cane.

“All-Clad is something people don’t want to buy full-price,” she said of the stainless steel pots and pans. “But many of the times when I’m selling them, they’re like new but people don’t have to pay full-price for them.”

Susan Zappola, owner of Tag Team Estate Sales based in Sag Harbor and Sagaponack, said she’s also seen a demand for kitchenware and appliances, especially as second-home owners ready their homes for summer.

“We’re also selling a lot of outdoor kitchen equipment, like outdoor stoves and fridges, and appliances along those lines,” she said.

Ms. Zappola said her business hosts a lot ofpre-demolition sales, where contents like appliances in homes slated to be torn down will be sold.

Teak, she agreed, is another hot commodity this summer, as well as mid-century modern furniture.

“Herman Miller, or any furniture like that style, goes fast,” said Ms. Zappola.

The clean-lined, sleek pieces are making a comeback in the estate sale world as well as the interior design world, Ms. Cane agreed.

“Anything Saarinen, Eames, or even like Design Within Reach, which is basically replica mid-century modern, anything in that genre or style, it goes like flying out the door,” Ms. Cane said.

In terms of reincorporating used items back into one’s home, Ms. Cane said there is no recipe for style.

“I always tell people to buy what they like,” she said. “If it doesn’t necessarily go with your home, it’s probably okay. You evolve and you see other things and a lot of times when you’re going to these people’s houses, they’ve been styled by designers so they’re going to have a natural aesthetic appeal. Everyone should be open to taste changing, that’s what makes us human, we can change our minds on things. It’s kind of neat to be able to go into people’s homes and say, ‘I never would’ve thought to do this.’”

Dates and locations for White Goose and Tag Team estate sales can be found at www.facebook.com/WhiteGooseEstateSales and tagteamestatesale.tumblr.com.

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