Combine an eye for decorating with organization and a background in the retail and antique industry and you’re got LaNee A. Benefiel Pfeiffer, co-owner of HP Trader Estate Tag Sales in Paris.
A native of Paris with more than 26 years of experience in retail and antique business, Pfeiffer was a fulltime seller on eBay, managing 300 auctions most of the time. With her husband, Fred, they established HP Trader as an alternative to using an auction to downsize or liquidate a lifetime of treasures from an estate.
He is retired after 42 years with the Canadian Pacific, Pfeiffer said. “We’re not people to just sit around. We need to keep busy.
“Quite frankly, we kind of fell into this,” Pfeiffer said recently as she worked to prepare for a large downsizing sale for Bob and Cathy Morgan of Paris. The couple has conducted sales throughout Illinois and in west central Indiana.
“We’ve been in Indianapolis, Springfield, Danville and Carmel, Ind.,” she said.
Pfeiffer and her crew liquidate estates, completely cleaning out homes. “ We come in, sort, clean, clear items, stage them and price every item,” she said. The company has an active online presence, she said, not only through their web site (www.hptraderestatesales.com) but on social media as well. HP Trader is also part of seven networking sites across the U.S. featuring other sales. They are also a member of the Antiques and Collectibles National Association, a professional trade organization. “We are professionals,” she said.
“We take and post a lot of pictures and videos,” she said. “People are able to see what is in the sale.”
This has been the busiest year for the HP Trader owners and their employees, she noted. “We’ve had eight sales this year,” Pfeiffer observed. “We’re a bit worn out. This is the last one of the year.”
There are sales already lined up in the spring when the season begins again. “We get calls all the time,” she said.
Pfeiffer said estate tag sales are not common in this area, so she and her crew have been educating area residents. “People know auctions and are familiar with them,” she said. “Tag sales are something new.”
Tag sales are common in larger metropolitan areas, she said, but work just as well in smaller communities — especially when liquidating an estate.
“When we’re done, everything is gone and the home cleaned,” she said.
For the Morgan tag sale, Pfeiffer said Cathy Morgan had the items organized. “Our job is to make the items presentable in a fun way,” she said. “We stage the items.”
Pfeiffer organized the furniture and special items in vignettes to “show them off,” to prospective buyers, she said. “I enjoy doing it, too,” she said. “I’m doing something I love.”
Three years ago, Pfeiffer and HP Trader conducted a sale in Carmel, Ind., for a retiring priest. There were 5,000-6,000 people who were buying. “It’s the largest sale we’ve ever done,” she said.
In addition to organizing items including several decorative Santa Clauses and Halloween décor, Pfeiffer was challenged to displaying and pricing several unusual items for the sale.
“When you take one of these on, you never know what you’re going to find,” she said. Pfeiffer is confident with her extensive background with retail, antiques and EBay selling “I have a good idea on the price of items.”
A large walnut highboy desk — which belonged to Dr. Wilbur Menke — was an item that created interest online, she said, as well as a cannonball safe. The safe was removed from the Kansas State Bank and “is very rare,” she noted. There was also a potbelly stove and a slot machine.
“We are very technology savvy,” she said. “We use it wherever we are. We do a lot of research. I can look at an item and know what it is worth.”
Depending on the size and scope of the sale, HP Trader may have from six to upwards of 40 workers employed during the sale. “We are very mindful of security,” she said.
HP Trader is paid depending on the sale and what is required, she said. “It’s a way to liquidate items in a short amount of time with someone else doing the work,” she said.
“You just never know what you’re going to have when you walk in,” she said. “It may be jewelry or furniture or antique items or collectibles. We handle it all.”