Estate Sales Celebrate Family History

Estate sales through "The Gold Mine" put family histories and collectibles on display.

In this case, it’s perfectly on point to be a name dropper. Limoges, Louis L’Amour, Queen Anne, Stickley, Tiffany and Wedgwood have all been there, and the list of notables runs deep into The Gold Mine’s history.

What began in 1960 as a Wayzata consignment shop featuring antiques, fine art and higher-end items has evolved over the years to offering appraisals and conducting estate and moving sales. Today, 11 partners of The Gold Mine include six Edina women. “It’s a very nice, close-knit group,” says Edina resident Margaret Pfohl, who has been with the group for 25 years.

A member of the Minnesota Antique Dealers Association, The Gold Mine is licensed and insured. Pfohl says banks, court approved conservators, insurance agencies and law firms often utilize The Gold Mine’s appraisal services. Team members specialize in areas of expertise, and regional and national art and antique experts are used as resources.

When it comes to sales, the group runs between eight-to-10 a year, and it handles everything from beginning to end—staging, pricing and selling. The team even secures permits, tends to parking needs and handles advertisements.

Up to 15 uniformed staffers attend the sale dates and utilize a proven system to avoid overcrowding and ensure attendees adhere to security measures. The Gold Mine typically receives one third of total sales, according to Pfohl.

“People have been so appreciative. It warms your heart and makes you feel appreciative that you can be a part of this." -Margaret Pfohl, The Gold Mine

Buyers come from various worlds. Antique dealers, including those with storefronts or Internet retail sites, attend the two- to three-day sales. Clientele also includes people interested in outfitting their homes and those looking for smaller items.

Theater folks poke around in search of props and potential costumes. Some “regulars” simply enjoy the estate sale experience and “just come to visit,” Pfohl says. Younger buyers approach estate sales a bit differently. “They’re not so much into antiques, but they know quality,” Pfohl says. “They like to mix the old and the new.”

Worthwhile tip: Get on the Gold Mine’s mailing list to get apprised of upcoming sales, or visit its website to view items. But which day is best for finding deals? It all depends on what you’re in the market for, according to Pfohl. For those in search of a particular item, the first day of the sale is the best bet. For some buyers, bargains are the name of their game, so the last day of a sale features hefty price reductions on remaining goods. Pfohl says some buyers go another route, arriving the first day to peruse goods, taking note of special items of interest. They’ll return on the last day in hopes the item wasn’t plucked by another shopper. “It’s part of the fun of the game,” Pfohl says.

Part of the game for buyers, who attend all types of sales, is to dither, but that’s not an option. “We try to get the best price for the person selling,” Pfohl explains. If bargaining is your deal, hit a garage sale.

Pfohl says some items are ideal to search for at estate sales. “You can do a whole kitchen,” she says, noting dish and glassware are aplenty at such events. To the list, she adds quality furniture, lamps and books. The Gold Mine has a following of booklovers, who watch for literary items. Don’t forget the garage—men, Pfohl says, love to peruse the space for tools, lawnmowers and snow blowers.

The Gold Mine has also sold vast amounts of artwork (valued up to $40,000), collectables, heirloom jewelry, prized furniture and décor items, high-end Oriental rugs, a car and even a dock.

Pfohl enjoys her work with The Gold Mine, helping people on both ends of the sale. She says, “It’s the people that I meet and the camaraderie, and it’s something different every time.”