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Your Job Looks Like So Much Fun!

People tell me this all the time. Doing estate sales must be so much fun. Look at the interesting things you find!

Okay, I do love my job, but it’s a lot of hard work. Let me break it down.

The Hours

Have you checked out my latest sale, WILMETTE WONDERS? Truth be told, this is a really massive estate sale, more work than a typical sale, but here are the hours I have spent:

Setup, Staging, Photography and Pricing: 127 hours

Editing pictures, captions, marketing, etc. 40 hours

The setup and photography is all on site at the estate sale. I set up a little portable photography studio in a room with good light for small objects, and bring in different backgrounds, stands, plinths, displays to really showcase the items in the estate sale.

I take notes while I do photographs so I can start researching prices when I get home and them to my notes. Also, after I get home, I start cropping pictures, uploading them, writing descriptions and captions (another reason for my notes), and then there’s the marketing, updating my website, creating emails and social media posts.

I do have a bit of routine with the at home work for an estate sale. I like to do the photos when I get home and do the descriptions then, because it’s all fresh in my mind from the day. Then in the morning, starting around 7:30AM, I like to do the website, social media, emails, marketing, etc.

And these hours do not include all the late night phone calls from customers, interrupting my dinner, my sleep. Some people have no boundaries but I nicely take their calls and try to answer their questions.

That’s just my time. Others help me too (I even dragooned my husband into giving me some time, and then there is my Girl Friday Patty).

Husband’s time 12 hours

Patty’s time 112 hours

Other staff 75 hours

That’s a grand total of 366 hours over 2 1/2 weeks, and $4300 in staff costs which is included in my commission.

The Actual Labor

You need to be in shape to do this job. According to my fitness tracker, on a typical day’s setup, I walk about 3 miles and climb about 12 flights of stairs.

Customers compliment our estate sales, saying how nice they look. That happens because there is lots of moving items around, some big, some small, some very heavy, so we can create mini departments within the estate sale. We want our estate sales to look like a beautiful antique store. It’s a lot of physical work, and over the years I have torn a rotator cuff, twisted a knee, thrown out my back, and have to be careful to not aggravate the bursitis in my right elbow.

I really love the setup part of an estate sale. I revel in rearranging all this stuff and creating inviting and attractive displays for the estate sale, but it’s very physical.

And It’s Dirty

Don’t wear nice clothes when setting up an estate sale (I have a large selection of jeans, black shirts and aprons). They can be really dirty. Some are not so bad, just the usual dust and dirt in a home that has been lived in for many years (like the Wilmette Wonders house), but some estate sales are downright disgusting (black mold, rats in basement, 40 cubic yards of garbage, no working toilet, the whole fridge became a science experiment, etc). Sometimes, you need a really strong stomach, but we sort through the garbage and clutter, deep clean, and manage to turn these sow’s ears into silk purses.

And A Lot of Patience

The clients can be difficult. I understand that they are going through a difficult time because a loved one died or they are downsizing and leaving a home that they loved because they have to. Running an estate sale and dealing with the client requires a lot of empathy.

Some of the customers can be difficult too. Some of these customers are serious collectors, and serious collectors are passionate about their collections. They have to have whatever item has caught their attention. They are obsessed and despite the fact that it’s 11:30 at night, they will make the call. If it’s 3:30 in the morning, they will send an email or a text and then call if I do not get back to them by 8AM. You gotta be nice but firm.


I love doing estate sales. I am proud of my work, but it’s not for everyone, and I earn every penny of my commission.

About Miss Sophia….

Since 2015, Sophia’s Estate Sales has provided premier estate sale and appraisal services to families throughout the Chicago area. Need an estate sale or an appraisal? Call Sophia at 773-729-0638 for a consultation.


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