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If your Saturday morning routine involves getting up early to make that Starbucks run to get your much needed cup of joe, or in my case, a Bryant’s bacon egg and cheese biscuit, then you have probably passed a sign for an estate sale — nothing puts a bigger smile on my face! However, for those of you who might get a little weirded out by going through someones possessions, I get it. It can be a little unsettling at first. No worries though, once you start going to them, you will soon realize how addicting estate sales can be and how recycling someones beautiful pieces can give your home so much more character than something you bought new.

For today’s FACES, I wanted to introduce you to a woman that has made estate sales her business for over 44 years. Twelve years ago, she and her husband Larry, decided to take it one step further and start A-1 Estate Appraisals and Esate Sales and they have never looked back. If you have ever been to one of her sales, then you know that Kathy and her team of professionals do not joke around when it comes to selling someone’s things. Kathy’s respect of the house and the family she is representing is undeniable and the presentation is just as impressive. Undeniably, there is always a long line of eager fellow Estate Sale lovers waiting to get through the doors and I can promise you she never disappoints. You will never leave one of her sales without something wonderful in your hands. Enjoy our latest FACES of Memphis but be warned: once you get on the Estate Sale train there is no jumping off…you will be hooked!

Where did you grow up?

I was born and raised in Memphis and now live in the house that my grandparents and parents grew up in.

Give us a little bit of your background.

I attended Treadwell, Rozelle, Bellevue Jr. High, East High and Memphis State University. I then went on to teach Science, Biology and Art at Southside High School. I am married to my wonderful husband Larry and have 2 children and 4 grandchildren.

So you went from being a teacher to the owner of an Estate Sale business. How did you get started on the road to Estate Sales?

Well, while teaching at Southside, I started helping my mother, Betty Harwood, with her Estate Sale Company (approx. 44 years ago). My sister and I started helping full time and the AAA Estate Sale Company was formed. My love of Art and Antiques made it very easy to change careers.

When did A-1 Estate Sales officially become a business?

In 2000 my husband, Larry, and I started A-1 Appraisals and Estate Sales Inc. Twelve years in and we are still going strong!

I am sure there are quite a few challenges in the estate sale business?  What is one of the biggest challenges that you face?

The major challenge, for all of us, is the narrow window of opportunity (only 2-3 days) to value and liquidate a lifetime of personal property accumulation. On occasions, it can be really formidable and heart rending.

Some people are a little weary when it comes to shopping through other people’s belongings. What do you think are some of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to estate sales?
I think some people are a little uncomfortable at first because they feel it is perhaps impersonal and irreverent and nothing could be farther from the truth. Great care is taken with each sale to carefully, tastefully and accurately price and display every item. The truth is, estate sales were “green” before “green” was politically correct. Estate sales are the ultimate in recycling.

For all the newbies out there…Would you mind sharing a few tricks of the trade with us?

First: Go early and go often. Go back several times, to the same sale, if you find something that peaks your interest. If you absolutely cannot live without it, buy it the first day. If you can sit on it for a while, sometimes it is smart to wait until the last day of the sale to purchase. Secondly: If you are leaving a counter offer, leave a reasonable offer and one you can afford to pay. Finally: My pet peeve is when people say: “I will give you this amount.” There is a far more appropriate way to receive a discount. I would go with “I would like to offer” or “Would you consider.”

What are some of the best items to find at an Estate Sale?

Antiques, fine linens, fine china and crystal, art, oriental rugs, patio furniture, silver, jewelry, furniture, yard art and Holiday decorations.

If you don’t mind me asking…Have you done any Estate Sales for any famous Memphians?

A few… Nationally though we have done one for Barbara Walker Hummel, who was a former Miss America.

Just to be nosy…what is the most expensive item you have ever sold? The most bizarre?

The most expensive item was an oil painting that sold in the six figure range and a 10 karat diamond ring! The most bizarre would have to be a “stuffed” pet.

I am sure you have stumbled across some beautiful pieces over the years. What are a few of your favorites?

A few of my favorite finds have been a large piece of Nonconnah Pottery, a portrait by John Mills and an antique “cold painted” pug dog.

Do you believe that there one thing that makes A-1 Estate Sales so successful or is it more of an accumulation of things?

Undoubtedly it is an accumulation of things. I truly believe we are so successful because of our expertise, dedication, integrity and attention to details. I also am very hands on throughout the entire process and truly care about each client we have.

I am sure over the years, you have seen your fair share of design trends over the years with each house you have done. How has what people are looking for changed from when you started to now?

Well, fine quality antiques and upscale furnishings are always in demand. However, with that being said, I have seen three major trends over the past 43 years. We have moved from overdone country and collectibles, to ostentatious over the top fringe and crystal to the less is more look. We now seem to be in the stainless steel/paper napkin world. Perhaps the pendulum will swing back toward the center one day though.

What do you love most about Memphis?

I love the diversity in Memphis. I also love that you get a lot of bang for you buck. Our lovely family and friends are the icing on the cake though!

Memphis Restaurant that you just cannot get enough of?

Bonefish and don’t laugh…but I love the $1.00 yogurts at McDonald’s!

Favorite spots to find vintage treasures….besides Estate Sales of course!

The Houston Antique District and the Atlanta Market.

After a long day of work, how do you unwind?

Watching PBS and BBC.

What words best describe you?

Energizer Bunny with a Type A personality!

What is the greatest piece of advice you have been given?

My dad always said, “Don’t sell your business and your name, you cannot buy and sell knowledge and integrity.”

Greatest trip you have taken so far?

South Africa and the Cape…put it on your bucket list!

On the slight chance you have time to read, what books can be found on your bedside table?

Bedside Prayers and Old World History.

Name three things that you cannot live without (excluding friends, family and God).

Cell phone, Blue tooth and my calendar.

What are you thankful for?

Each new day! I am a 5 year cancer survivor and each new day I truly believe is a blessing and gift from God.

What are your goals for 2012?

We are looking forward to another successful business year with our wonderful staff!

To find out about Estate Sales in Memphis you can go here to find dates and times:

A special thanks to our amazing photographer, Christen (Jones) Morrison, for her fabulous work featured on StyleBlueprint Memphis today. Be sure to check out her website here:

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About the Author
Lindsey Hedgepeth