LCS Estate Liquidation Phone: 609-394-4939 or 856-313-4189

A family's trash is estate shop's treasure

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


HAMILTON - "I always say to people, don't throw anything out," Hamilton resident John Rigby said. This proved particularly good advice when he picked a vase out of a client's pile of "trash" and sold it for $785. Rigby further proved his eye for business when he paid $30 for glassware that ended up being Waterford crystal.

Rigby, a native of Great Britain, and his wife Mary made secondhand treasures their business when they opened Hamilton's Estate Sale Shoppe on South Broad Street. The store carries everything from antiques to paintings to furniture. Rigby said the idea for the shop goes hand in hand with his other business, LCS Estate Liquidation.

"Someone will die in the family or a person will have to move and they'll say, `Now what do I do with all this stuff?' " Rigby said. "That's where I come in."

According to Rigby, LCS will clean out an entire estate and give the owners a percentage of what it thinks it can make upon resale. Then Rigby moves the products to the shop to sell to the public.

"It's really better for the clients," he said. According to Rigby, people often try to sell items from an estate themselves - a process that is extremely time-consuming and often results in little or no success.

With LCS, Rigby said, "the family takes what they want, then they close the doors and we go to work. Something that would be a lot of work for them, we go and do it in one, two or three days."

Rigby said items at the shop are sold at "rock bottom prices" because he constantly gets new inventory. "We get trucks full of stuff," he said. "(Prices) have to be low so we can move it."

And, Rigby said, the items move fast. "We're always getting new faces, but we have a good following of about 100 people," he said.

One of the store's regular customers, Cathi Goeke of Hamilton, said she always looks forward to her weekly visits. "Every week, almost every day of every week, you see new things," she said. Goeke, a collector of Depression-era glass, said the store has provided her with many items for her collection at unbeatable prices.

But Goeke doesn't come to the store just for the merchandise. "(The Rigbys) are the nicest people," she said. "Every week I come in, I feel like I'm visiting friends."

In addition to simply selling items, Rigby also allows customers to request an item they have been searching for. Rigby said he goes to antique stores and looks until he finds an item that will satisfy the customer. "I will find it," he said.

Rigby said he has received requests for props to use in film and magazines - this year a bridal magazine used 1920s items from the shop in a photo shoot. Rigby said he has customers as far as Manhattan, and also does a lot of business with clients in Philadelphia. But business hasn't always been so easy.

"We used to run yard sales at our house (in Hamilton) every week," Rigby said. "Neighbors started to complain about the traffic because people were waiting at 5 a.m. to see what we were selling that day."

The store, which has been open for over a year, stocks deals like $1 pieces of jewelry, and rare finds like old comic books and G.I. Joe and Dick Tracy lunch boxes. And, Rigby pointed out, the cabinets and bookcases displaying the items are also for sale. In an adjacent room, Rigby houses electronics and larger pieces of furniture.

Rigby said he only invests in estates he thinks will be successful upon resale, pointing to a nine-piece dining room set priced at $599. "I have to be very careful," he said. "I don't want junk." Rigby said even other secondhand and antique dealers buy from him.

Rigby said the store has recently started accepting welfare vouchers in addition to cash and credit cards. "There are a lot of people from Trenton looking for nice things on a welfare budget," Rigby said. "We try to cater to everybody."

The shop, open Thursday to Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., has been a success from day one, Rigby said. "It's the best thing we ever did."

© 2005  The Times of Trenton
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