Sep 22, 2017
LLOYD GORDON is one of the top estate liquidators in Los Angeles. Nearly 30 years in the business, Lloyd stages and presides over estate sales in some of the city’s most affluent neighborhoods. He says just because an item is valuable doesn’t mean it will sell. (50:26)
Next year LLOYD GORDON will celebrate his 30th anniversary working as an estate liquidator in Los Angeles. It’s not something the exuberant song and dance man set out to do. But a funny thing happened to Lloyd on the way to a musical theater career – he made a real name for himself staging and managing estate sales in some of the city’s toniest neighborhoods.
As Lloyd tells me in his PIERSON
TO PERSON episode YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU, when he first started
liquidating the earthly possessions of the recently departed he did
not feel good about himself:
LLOYD: “I felt a little bit like a creepy undertaker -- no offense to undertakers. But then a friend of mine said, ‘You know, what you’re doing is actually helping people when they’re in a difficult situation.’ And that never occurred to me, and the fact that he said that was great because then I didn’t feel like this sleazy undertaker guy anymore.”
The success of an estate sale depends on several factors, including how well the sale is advertised, presentation, weather and, of course, the price of the items being sold. Lloyd says if prices are set too high, shoppers will turn around and leave without looking in any of the other rooms of the house.
LLOYD: “Most people go to estate sales to get a fair price, and that’s my job – to sell things at a fair price. That’s the operative term: fair. It’s not a steal, because if it’s a steal then I am not doing my job. And in the middle, somewhere between retail and a steal, there’s a compromise where both parties are happy. And that’s what I aim for.”
Crowd control is another important factor in running a successful estate sale -- and Lloyd runs a pretty tight, no-nonsense ship. In fact, he posts an armed guard at the front door to help maintain order throughout the day.
LLOYD: “Typically, we’ll have 60 people or more at the door. I don’t like to make people wait because people get grumpy, but you have to. I went to an estate sale once where the guy let 40 people in and I hated it because the house was so crowded. Literally, people were fighting. Two people had their hands on the same thing and they were pulling it. It’s just ugly when there are too many people in the house. They get really abrasive, they get pushy and they, seriously, fight. You don’t want to create a situation that allows that to happen.”
I recorded this episode with Lloyd at a house in LA’s Miracle Mile as he and his team worked feverishly to turn the 3,000-square-foot home into, essentially, a pop-up department store. Until seeing it for myself, I had no idea how much effort goes into liquidating an estate. As Lloyd reminded me: “It’s NOT a garage sale!”
Many thanks to the composers of the music featured in this episode royalty free through Creative Commons licensing:
1. "As I Was Saying" by Lee Rosevere - leerosevere.bandcamp.com
2. "Farsical - Thematic" by Blue Dot Sessions - sessions.blue/sessions/