Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Ind’s newest blogger, Cheryl Cockrell has all the right stuff. By Leslie Turk

                                         Photo by Robin May

Cheryl Cockrell can help you pile some junk in your trunk. But it’s not the kind of junk you might be thinking.

Cockrell, who lives in Lafayette and teaches English at Comeaux High, has been specializing in estate, moving and downsizing sales for the past 10 years. “Selling and trading is the lesson I learned from first my grandpa, who sold fishing bait on the banks of the Pearl River, and then my dad who was always trading the family car, but not always for the better,” Cockrell says. “Trading and junking is part of my Southern heritage.”

Junking, shopping garage and estate sales, and trolling flea markets has long been a popular Acadiana hobby, evidenced by the enormous crowds that show up at Cockrell’s sales and the many inquiries she gets from people asking about the next “show.” It’s apparently equally prevalent across the country as cable shows like Antiques Roadshow, American Pickers and Cash and Cari are attracting a wider audience.

In an estate sale, everything in a person’s house — both inside and out — is sold, as opposed to a yard sale where only some items — typically what people no longer want or use — comprise the sale. Cockrell, who next week becomes a regular blogger for The Independent Weekly — offering tips on how to get the best deals and where to look for them — believes many people don’t shop estate sales because of four common myths:

•Myth 1: Estate sales are going to be filled with expensive antiques I don’t want or can’t afford. “Wrong!” Cockrell says. “In estate sales we are cleaning out homes after the owner has passed away, moved, downsized or just needs money. We sell everything from vehicles to toaster ovens, and occasionally we do have that fine antique.” She maintains that estate sales have something for everyone — college students who are furnishing that first apartment, newly weds who need a good freezer, families that are looking for another TV, and collectors. “Sometimes you’ll find exactly what you are looking for, and sometimes you come away with nothing,” she says.

•Myth 2: The estate sales coordinator takes out the best things and there is nothing in the house but junk. The sales would not be successful without good merchandise, Cockrell explains, and the more the estate sale operator sells, the more money she makes for her clients.

•Myth 3: There is too much haggling over prices. “I certainly understand this concern,” Cockrell says, “but in estate sales, the items are modestly priced and reduced by 20 percent each day of the sale. At the end of the sale you can make an offer, but our first responsibility is to get the best price for the owner, so don’t get mad if we don’t accept $2 for that vintage lace slip.”

•Myth 4: Estate sales are depressing and creepy. “This is the biggest myth of all,” Cockrell notes. “I think of estate sales as the ultimate form of recycling and going ‘green.’ To use and enjoy slightly older furniture, appliances and linens instead of buying new really does help our ecology,” she continues. “And you save lots of money, too.” Besides, she says, at many sales, the owner is very much alive and well but has decided to make a lifestyle change.

Watch for Cockrell’s blog, “The Weekend Hunt,” filed under the INDExtra tab, for tips on finding treasures, collectibles, antiques and other great deals at flea markets and garage and estate sales.


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