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How to Keep Order at Your Estate Sale - Without Firearms

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Mar 24, 2015

We had a prospective client who proudly announced that she had a nephew who was a professional security guard licensed to carry and use a gun. She said that he would volunteer his services for her sale. Our response was a resounding ‘No’. Is this the right way to keep order at an estate sale?

Personally, we do not allow any guns at our sales and I would steer away from any estate sale or estate sale company that permits firearms. Even at the most exclusive homes, security can be handled to deter theft and encourage order without being life-threatening!

Preventing Estate Sale Thieves

Consider that stealing in any retail situation is rare, but possible. Some bad apples do come along from time to time to take what is not theirs to have. Adopting the attitude that ‘whatever might be lost is the cost of doing business’ is much better than ‘somebody needs to get hurt or die’! It would be better to take preventative measures than point a weapon. Remember, people are out for a weekend browse and not a military exercise.

Hire Enough Staff

An ample number of salespeople often are enough to keep order and discourage damage or theft during a sale. If you are more comfortable with additional security personnel, choose guards with an imposing size and professional attire (a jacket instead of a t-shirt). It is better if they have a friendly demeanor, because nobody wants to be threatened just because they are on the hunt for an antique!

We think that the more professional a sale is run, the less likely that your customers will have a ‘free for all’ attitude.

10 Rules for Keeping Order at Your Estate Sale

  1. Create a respectful environment. Set up the sale so it is clean. Take out the garbage in the house before the sale and not afterward.
  2. Display things in an orderly fashion as if it is a pop-up retail store.
  3. Price each and every object to cut down on chaos.
  4. Adjust the number of people admitted to sale at one time to allow things to flow instead creating a crush.
  5. Have one way in and the same way out of the sale – past the cashier.
  6. Have enough cashiers to avoid a bottleneck and unrest.
  7. Keep small valuables like jewelry, stamps, and military medals next to the cashier table or have a designated salesperson for those items.
  8. Keep other small items in public, well-lit areas.
  9. Road signs, which lead to the property, should be removed nightly so as not to leave the house vulnerable in the evening.
  10. Lock all doors, windows, shades and curtains when the house is closed for the day.

When interviewing an estate sale company, ask what measures they take to secure your property and its contents. Once you feel comfortable with what they do, then let go of any concerns and relax.

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