Frequently Asked Questions

What is an estate sale and how does it differ from a garage sale?

An estate sale is held when all or most of the contents of an entire home are no longer wanted or needed. Nearly everything in the home can be sold from furniture, home décor and artwork to clothing and accessories to tools. Estate sale patrons tour the entire home including basements and garages to view and purchase the items. Garage sales are generally held when a family is looking to downsize a smaller quantity of possessions. Garage sale patrons only access the garage and driveway of the home. They tend to look for extreme bargains while estate sale patrons seek out unique antique and vintage items as well as utilitarian and new items and love to dig for treasures.

Aren't estate sales only held in huge mansions or when someone has passed away?

Estate sales can be held when a loved one has passed away but there are many other reasons estate sales can be held. Many of our clients are downsizing from a larger home to a smaller home, condo or townhome or are transitioning to an assisted living facility or nursing home. Any reason for moving from one home to another can qualify including downsizing, divorce, foreclosure or short sale. We have held estate sales in homes ranging from condos to multi-million dollar mansions so virtually any type of home can be eligible for an estate sale. The Chicago area is the most active for estate sales in the country, it's how we turn households over here so take advantage of our location!

How does the process work?

The first step is to contact us by phone at 847-253-3986 or by e-mail at We will answer any questions you may have and offer to e-mail our information sheet to you. The information sheet will summarize how the estate sale service works and detail the commission schedule. The next step would be to schedule a no-obligation appointment so Brigid can meet you in person and take a tour of the home to see what is for sale.  From there, she can suggest a plan depending upon your schedule to most profitably and effectively sell the household items. Once the plan is accepted, dates for the preparation and sale are scheduled. All you need to do is decide what you would like to keep and what you would like to sell and Brie's takes care of the items you are selling. If desired, the end result can be an empty, broom-swept home ready for its next step!

There is a lot of "junk" in the home, should I toss it out?

As a general rule, please DO NOT throw anything away! In this economy more than ever, people will buy anything they can save money on as opposed to having to buy it from a regular store. Yes, even that half-empty bottle of shampoo or laundry detergent. All of the little things really add up, meaning more money in your pocket and saving the items from the landfills. However items such as personal papers, medication and expired food or toiletry items should be removed from the home or disposed of.

Please do not be embarrassed if the home is in a disarray.  We are professionals and have seen homes at every level of organization. We understand that this is a process and the first part of your process is to go through the contents of the home to see what will be kept, sold or thrown away. We will organize and stage the items you wish to sell and bring in tables and other display props to make the environment look beautiful like a store.

What kinds of items can be sold? How are items priced?

Brie's can sell anything located in a private residence, as long as it is legal to sell. Please note that we cannot sell alcohol or firearms. While it's impossible to know everything about everything, as a collective group Brie's has all the bases covered. We each have our own interests and areas of expertise and general knowledge about all sorts of items but will use other resources to back up our thoughts on pricing when needed. Items are priced based upon our experience and what we feel the market will bear.

How will the items be displayed?

Brie's takes a great deal of time and care into displaying the items in a home. We group like items together and place them on tables skirted with beautiful fabric. Items are placed at varied levels to create interest. We use computer-generated price stickers in a lovely font which are attached directly to the item when possible. If not, the stickers are applied to a scalloped paper price tag and attached with a professional tagging gun. We create matching signs on card stock for furniture and items priced higher than $80. Jewelry and more valuable small items are kept at the cashier table for added security. During the sale, we will continually consolidate and move items to keep things looking attractive and to promote their sale.

What is the commission rate and how is it calculated?

Brie's works on a commission basis, the commission rate is determined based upon the size of the sale. Major expenses (helpers, advertising, credit card processing) are tracked for each sale and deducted from the commission charged. There is never a deposit or upfront fee. Brie's will cover all of the major expenses up front; the major expenses are then reimbursed to Brie's when the sale results are calculated. Brie's automatically pays for any minor expenses associated with the sale. For more details, e-mail us at and we will happily send you an information sheet for your reference which will explain everything.

I see you conduct mostly 4-day sales. Why?

In our experience, we have found that a 4-day sale with advertised discounting on the weekend days is the most effective way to maximize the value of the estate. Our goal is to get the most we can for your items while balancing this with your need to liquidate the contents of the home. Most estate sales run Friday-Saturday with a non-advertised discount of some sort all day on all or part of the day Saturday. If at all possible, we conduct our sales Thursday-Sunday. There is far less competition from other sales on Thursday and estate sale die-hards are more likely to attend the sale the first day. In the 2-day format people tend to wait until the second day in the hopes of purchasing larger items at a discount. In the 4-day format, items are not heavily discounted until the third day so patrons are more likely to purchase rather than taking a chance and waiting for the prices to go down. Sundays are also wonderful days to hold estate sales. Patrons generally have more free time and enjoy attending the sales as a family. There are exceptions to the 4-day rule though and we are happy to conduct 2-day or 3-day sales if we feel it would be best or if condo or townhome association rules prohibit longer sales.

You own a retail store. Isn't that a conflict of interest?

We used to own a retail consignment store but closed it in 2014 to fully concentrate on estate sales. We do hold two or three pop-up sales per year at our home base of items we purchase from private individuals. We do not purchase items from our estate sales to resell. We take a commission on the items we sell so it is in all of our best interests to sell items for as much as possible. We are on the same page! We consider our retail store experience to be a great asset. After Brie's conducts a 4-day sale with recommended discounting over the weekend generally there is little to nothing left of value but if there is, we can take certain items on consignment after the sale or recommend other alternatives. You can be assured that we will tirelessly work to make sure all items of value in the home are sold at a fair price, whether during the sale or afterwards. The manner in which we conduct estate sales is comprehensive from start to finish.

May I attend the sale?

Brie's never tells clients they must stay away from their own homes. However in our experience we have found that the estate sale process is an emotional one for clients and it is best not to attend the sale. Estate sale patrons do not have the same emotional attachment to the belongings in the home and it can be upsetting for the family to see patrons leaving no stone unturned in unearthing the treasures they are looking for. Think of it in the same was as when your realtor tells you not to be present when potential buyers are touring your home. It just makes the patrons more comfortable and in turn they will stay longer and hopefully spend more money! We are happy to keep in touch with the progress of the sale by telephone and/or e-mail. The decision to hire an estate sale company to conduct a professional sale is a very smart one - allow Brie's to handle all of the minutia involved, relax and wait for the check to arrive!

Can't I just do my own estate sale? Why should I hire Brie's?

Conducting a successful estate sale is not easy. It takes a great deal of time and effort to pull it off, even for a company as experienced as Brie's. We present the items in the home in a high-class manner, adding value to them. We know how to price items properly, balancing our desire to get the most we can while still satisfying the patrons. We know how to effectively advertise to get the right buyers to the sale, using a combination of marketing to our regular customers and reaching out to new ones by highlighting particular items of interest. During the sale, we foster a lively and fun environment - patrons love to follow us from sale to sale! Our service more than pays for itself in the manner of generating a greater total value of the estate. We are honest and hard-working and will do everything in our power to ensure your sale will be a successful one.

Friends would like to buy items from the estate. Should I just sell them the items?

We have seen all too often the value of the estate depleted by presales to family and friends for a fraction of their fair market value. The items that interest family and friends tend to also interest estate sale patrons to come to your sale. Ask yourself - is the relationship with that person such that you would give the item to them? If so then by all means simply give it to them. Otherwise, invite them to attend the estate sale. We can then price the items properly, increasing the value of the estate. We are happy to work with you to offer a discount to family and friends if desired.

What should I do with the items the family wishes to keep?

If there is any doubt as to whether an item should be kept, please keep it. The item can always be sold at a later date. Ideally items that will be kept are removed from the home before the estate sale setup begins. If this is not possible, designate a room to store smaller items which would be off limits to patrons. Clearly mark items that are not to be sold and cannot be moved "Not For Sale" before the estate sale preparation begins.

What happens to the unsold items?

After one of Brie's sales when our recommendations are accepted there is generally not much left of value. Our goal is to sell as many items as possible onsite during the weekend. Because the next step after the sale is generally to either donate or dispose of unsold items, Brie's does not clean up or clear out items after the sale. However we do not leave you without an action plan - we suggest charities that will come into the home and pack up unsold items as opposed to your having to box them and leave them out on the driveway. We also recommend professional clear out crews for jobs small to large that will remove everything you would like from the home and leave the home broom clean for a fee. If a more thorough cleaning is desired, we can suggest a professional house cleaner who can vacuum/mop floors, clean bathrooms etc., leaving the home totally ready for its next step!

How and when is payment made?

We use a state-of-the art point of sale system at every location, recording EVERYTHING that has sold, even if the item is only 25 cents. Items of lesser value are categorized and items of greater value itemized. After the sale, a package is then prepared which includes the check, summary sheet and detailed report. This is a labor-intensive process which takes 2 weeks but when complete you will have comprehensive information which will satisfy any executor, attorney or bank representative which may be involved in making sure the estate sale was conducted in an ethical manner.

There are so many estate sale companies it's overwhelming, how can I choose the right one?

We strongly believe that you choose an estate sale company that you feel is a good fit for you. There are so many companies to choose from in the Chicago area. Choosing a company with a lower commission rate does not necessarily mean you will make more money. A company with better advertising and presentation skills will be more successful at selling your items. We do not believe in badmouthing other companies but please be careful with your choice. The estate sale business is not regulated and anyone can start a company as there are no requirements. We started our company as people who attend estate sales and were alarmed by the questionable business practices we saw. We knew that there was a better way and always strive to be the best!