Online estate-sale business is expanding
by A.J. Kmetz
THE CINCINNATI ENQUIRER
CARA OWSLEY THE CINCINNATI ENQUIRER Partners in Everything But The House are Brian Graves, seated, and standing, from left, Jon Nielsen, Andy Nielsen and Mike Reynolds. The Cincinnati-based company handles estate sales online.
An online-sales company intends to revolutionize the estate-sale business as it expands to several cities in the Midwest.
Everything But The House sells exactly that — anything in a building but not the building itself.
The company was born in 2006 when founders Jacque Denny and Brian Graves saw opportunity in the market for an e-commerce platform designed to sell vintage items. The company, based in the Cincinnati neighborhood called Linwood, achieved success by opening its auctions to “the audience that is the Internet,” as Jon Nielsen, the company’s vice president, puts it.
“Initially, it was just feeling like the industry was antiquated,” said Graves, now one of the company’s chief sales officers along with Denny. In contrast to traditional estate sales, which are generally two-hour events at a physical location, Everything But The House’s sales take place on its website. When a sale is booked, each item is catalogued and photographed and then put up for auction on the website.
The sales last for seven days, giving each individual item much more exposure than at a live auction, especially given the site’s 270,000 unique monthly visitors. Around 2,500 pieces are typically available and start at $1, though they often sell at a price near, and occasionally much higher than, their actual worth. Individual estate sales average about $27,000, of which 30 percent is taken by the company. It can take less than the normal 50 percent cut because the online auctions have much higher proceeds, the company says.
“It’s our job to get (the items) in front of the right number of eyes,” said Andy Nielsen, company president. “Some items could be buried on a skid and worth $10,000,” Graves said. “We find the needle in the haystack.”
Everything But The House has certainly found some needles. A 2004 World Series ring sold for $89,000, for example.
Graves said that part of the company’s role is to be an advocate for the families it works with, and attributes its success to its all-in-one service. Many of its customers are experiencing a major life event, such as a death in the family or a cross-country move. Everything But The House not only handles the entire selling process, but also organizes donations and junk removal for items that can’t be sold. It leaves the house swept.
The company has grown swiftly since its first sale in 2008. That year, it had about 800 registered bidders and achieved $700,000 in sales. In 2012, the Nielsen brothers and their business partner Mike Reynolds joined the two founders as company executives.
In the past year, franchises have opened in several regional cities: its Lexington, Ky., branch opened last July, and in the past six months, it has expanded to Columbus, Indianapolis, Louisville, Ky., and Nashville, Tenn.
The company has more than 68,000 registered bidders and predicts its sales will be about $14 million this year.
Am always on the the lookout for the new and/or the unusual, and this story has it all. Love the creativity these people have brought to a platform which has long been popular and hugely active, that of the bargain hunting public which includes me.
But this is even more delightful because of the need it fills in providing an outlet for those of us with something we wish to sell and don’t have the heart to orchestrate. Absolutely love it. This business can’t miss because of the “service it provides to others.” That’s number one with all. These fellas had the smarts to dream it up and carry it off and into lively growth. . . . . . Bravo! Jan)