New Harmony, Indiana, business owner Cindy Smotherman stresses to her estate sale clients not to clean up or throw anything away until she first sees the property. Someone’s trash is another’s treasure, she says, and she has been known to dumpster dive to prove it.
“I’ve had to pull out things that were more valuable than the things they left,” says Smotherman, who organizes estate sales in the Southern Indiana/Illinois area for clients. She also owns an antique store called Firehouse Antiques, located at 608 S. Main St. in New Harmony.
“They didn’t realize that every paper thing, every old pen that has advertising, every little cosmetic, the tin Kroger spices are what people want. People collect everything. Let the public decide what is sellable and what isn’t, then you can discard and donate.”
Smotherman, originally from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, earned her experience managing estate sales when she worked for the largest estate sale company in Nashville, Tennessee, for seven years. The sales took a backseat temporarily while Smotherman, her husband Jeff, and their two daughters Sarah and Andrea moved to New Harmony in 2003 to open their antique store.
“Someone in town asked if I would do an estate sale,” she says. “I did one, and it grew to another one, and another one.”
“You are taking care of people’s things they have treasured their whole life and then you are passing it on to others who are excited about it. You can find the coolest things and you don’t have to pay retail, from brand new things to the coolest vintage décor. When you find something you like to do, it’s really like you’re not working.”
Smotherman says moving, liquidating assets, or going through a lost loved one’s possessions can be overwhelming, which is where she comes in. Her clients will separate out what they wish to keep, move out of the house, and she will do the rest of the work — advertising, pricing, organizing, and more. Instead of accepting payment up front, she will take a percentage of the final sale.
Look for one of Smotherman’s upcoming estate sales soon. She is managing the home of Margaret McMullan, an author and recently retired professor of creative writing at the University of Evansville, and her husband Pat O’Connor, an independent writer and filmmaker, in McCutchanville, Indiana. The sale date will happen as soon as the home sells.
“It looks like nothing has even been used in this house,” says Smotherman. “If I walked into their house, I would say, ‘I’ll take it all.’”
For more information about Cindy Smotherman’s Estate Sales, call 812-781-1390 or visit cindysmotherman.com.