My Biz: Cedar Rapids estate sale company grows 'cult-like' following over the years

Top Drawer plans clients' tag sales

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Published: March 20 2014 | 6:00 am - Updated: 1 April 2014 | 9:52 am in

When Top Drawer’s storefront opened in 1991, Randi Hoefing, who had a long interest in antiques and interior design, was a frequent shopper.

“I was always in their shop,” she said. “And one day I told them if they ever decided to sell their business to give me a call.”

Fourteen years ago, the owners did just that.

The company, which has well as an established following in the Corridor, conducts estate tag and moving sales. Tag sales are held on site for clients who have estates to dispose of or who are moving or downsizing.

Top Drawer Estate/Tag Sales also has a storefront in the New Bo district, which sells pre-owned consignment items such as furniture, home décor, antiques, artwork and costume jewelry. Appraisals and auction services are available as well.

"It’s almost like a cult,” Hoefing said. “It’s fun for people and a relationship forms because there are people who are collectors and follow this type of thing. They attend our tag sales and before they leave the sale they want to know where our next one is going to be.”

The business handles anywhere from 18 to 26 sales a year.

With years of experience tucked under her belt in assessing the likes of glassware, jewelry and furniture, Hoefing has developed her process for lining up the sales.

“First we go out and take a look at the estate to be sure that there is enough to even do a sale,” she said. “If there is, we set a date, and then we have our clients sign a contract with us.”

“The percentage I charge is anywhere from 35 to 50 percent,” she said. “It’s all on the amount of dollars the sale ends up being.”

Top Drawer brings everything to the site — display tables, linens, secured displayed cases and even props. She has a crew of 12 to 14 part-time workers who have been with her for many years and help with the preparation, set-up and management of the sale.

“Once everything is priced and tagged, we handle the advertising, bookkeeping, and we host and manage the two to four day sale,” she said.

Getting ready for a sale is a lot of work, Hoefing said, adding she prefers a minimum of four weeks to prepare properly.

“A lot of people do tag sales,” she said. “But I don’t think people realize that we here at Top Drawer do a lot of research in this process. We really try to find out what the going market is on stuff so that we can price items accordingly, and that takes time.”

At a glance

  • Owner: Randi Hoefing
  • Company: Top Drawer Estate/Tag Sales
  • Address: 1012 Third Street. S.E., Cedar Rapids, IA
  • Phone: (319) 365-2430
  • Website: www.shoptopdrawer.com

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