Susie Farmer has assumed ownership of the popular Pratt estate sales business, TLC, and uses intuition and secrets learned in the business to create successful experiences for her clients.
Susie’s Estate Sales will have a new look starting next month as owner Susie Farmer now claims the TLC name created by Flo Parsons and Louise Kempton who ran TLC (Tender Loving Care) sales for about three decades years until they sold the business name in 2015.
As part of the original TLC crew, Farmer said she learned about successfully organizing and holding sales that pulled bargain-seekers through the doors in droves.
“I learned from the best of the best,” Farmer said of her apprenticeship with the TLC founders.
Before potential buyers can walk through the doors to feast eyes on awaiting treasures, there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work to be done, according to Farmer, who is assisted in her enterprise by sidekicks Jeannie Asbury, Mary McCune and Shirley Polk.
A native of Pratt and member of the 1975 Pratt High School graduating class, Farmer said she has built her business on integrity and on providing full service to the families who contract for her services.
Since starting her business in 2016, Farmer, 62, has held an average of 12 sales a year, appreciative of the encouragement of her spouse Phil Farmer, who retired from a 25-year career with People’s Bank before opening Phil’s Diner on Highway 54 in 1994.
“We ask the family to take what they want to keep, then we come in and take over the tasks of sorting, pricing and displaying,” Farmer said.
The behind-the-scenes process usually takes about a month and the house must be vacated before they begin their work.
Farmer and helpers start by digging into cabinets, closets and cubbyholes and pulling out all the contents, doing any needed cleaning as they go along.
If they find personal papers or anything they feel might hold sentimental value, Farmer said she makes sure it is returned to the family.
“We’ve found cash and last April we found a wedding ring that was lodged in the back of a bedside table drawer and returned it to the owner who was thrilled,” Farmer said.
“I love to organize,” Farmer said, crediting this as a contributing factor to her success. “We have to create a mess to begin pulling a sale together. We don’t throw anything away because something thrown away might be something someone would buy,” Farmer said, paraphrasing the familiar saying about one man’s junk being another’s treasure.
“Jewelry sells the best,” Farmer said.
“People come in the front door and go straight to the jewelry,” said Asbury.
Farmer has created a unique display for jewelry. About three years ago Deny Bowe of Safety First Auto Repair on North Main uncovered old discarded two-by-four window frames in his shop’s attic and gave them to Farmer who refurbished and repurposed two of them to showcase earrings, necklaces and other baubles, adding a center section provided by Cathy Abbott of Cathy’s Closet consignment shop.
“I just love it,” said Farmer.
Kitchen items, tools, books, clothes, toys and décor are also popular sellers, according to Farmer.
Upcoming sales will follow the TLC format, which is based on a two-day event starting at 7:30 a.m. on a Wednesday and ending at 6 p.m. on Thursday.
“They’re always on a Wednesday and Thursday because they’re estate sales, not garage sales,” Farmer said, “and people always figure out how to get there.”
Earlybird shoppers have first choice of the offerings. There will also be the familiar “bid box” where shoppers can place bids greater than 50 percent of the asking price. The bids are opened at noon on Thursday sale day. Also, on Thursday prices are reduced by 20 percent in the morning and by 50 percent starting at 12:30 p.m., Farmer said.
When the sale is over, any remaining items are donated to local non-profits, including South Wind Thrift Store and Pratt Area Humane Society. Eyeglasses go to the Lions Club and Christmas wrap is destined to be found on gifts provided for the annual Angel Tree program.
Other helpers Farmer said she relies on are Ginny Howdyshell and Colby Barr.
“Colby helps with the garage stuff and gives us lots of advice,” Farmer said.
Payday for Farmer comes at the close of the sale and is based on a percentage of total sales.
Farmer said her work isn’t over when the sale closes.
“We clean up everything when we’re all done,” Farmer said.
The next event will be in February, at a date to be announced.
Farmer keeps her growing fan base of estate sale groupies informed about upcoming events through her Facebook Page and emails sale information to about 200 of them.
Type ‘Susie’s Estate Sales’ in the Facebook search bar for sale dates or to request to be added to her mailing list or to sign up for email updates.