Practically every night, stuff you never knew you wanted sells to the highest bidder during Everything But The House’s online estate sales. Bid smartly at the 8 p.m. close (4 p.m. on Sundays) and that hand-loomed Persian rug or antique sterling silver cigarette case might join everything in your house for a steal.
A real human skull originally donated to a medical school, a vintage Coco Chanel beaded necklace, a guest chair from Queen Elizabeth’s coronation—there seem to be no limits to the shake-your-head amazing items you can buy, or just browse, on ebth.com. And you won’t be alone. “It’s a pastime,” says Brian Graves, founder and chief sales officer of EBTH. “When people are at home, they grab their iPad and get into bed. Instead of getting on Netflix, they say, ‘I wonder what’s selling on EBTH tonight?’”
The company grew out of Graves’s love of antiques and yard sales. After buying and selling “treasures” for years—and shopping and organizing tag sales—Graves launched EBTH’s first online estate sale with partner Jacquie Denny in 2008. Now, with some 200 employees and $14 million in revenue, EBTH attracts 350,000 website visitors each month. A recent infusion of $13 million in venture capital signals more growth to come.
EBTH has modernized estate sales: Instead of hauling their stuff to a curbside yard sale, downsizing baby boomers can hire EBTH to sort, photograph, market, and auction their unwanted antiques and vintage treasures for a 35 percent cut. Monthly online consignment sales are run from EBTH’s headquarters near Lunken Airport; in-home previews are available too. In 2014, EBTH added locations in Lexington, Columbus, Louisville, Indianapolis, and Nashville—with plans to add eight more cities this year.
What are the best bargains? China, crystal, Victorian furniture, regional artwork, and jewelry. What’s hot? Anything Mid-Century Modern. And it can be cheap, too: A Baker sofa, usually $6,000 to $10,000, sold for $847 on the site not long ago. “Everything starts at a dollar,” says Graves. But the market sets the price—and can reveal an item’s actual value. Take the original 1940s Art Deco Edouard Cazaux French-glazed ceramic elephant statuette that sold for $6,900. “To the untrained eye, it looks like you could buy it at HomeGoods,” he says. “At a yard sale, someone would think it was just an elephant figurine and put a $100 price tag on it.” But EBTH is not your average yard sale.
Photographs by Jeremy Kramer
Originally published in the January 2015 issue