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Technology & Innovation

For Local Antiques, Auction and Appraisal Companies, the Web is Big Business

Category: Technology & Innovation

SBJ Staff Report

11/23/2009 - On a Thursday night in early November, some of Savannah’s leading couples enjoyed wine and cheese at an auction preview party hosted by Everard & Company, one of the Savannah and the South Carolina Lowcountry’s antiques and auction companies.

But there was no auctioneer standing on a stage, hammering a gavel or yelling, “Sold!”  Instead, bidders were looking over items before the auction company’s online auction of antiques and art from the estate of Ron Strahan of Savannah was set to begin. The auction also featured items from other local sellers, assembled by the firm.

The estate of Strahan, being handled by Franklin Williams of Celia Dunn Realty, which is also handling the sale of his home in Savannah’s Historic District, featured furniture, art and an array of a life’s love of collecting.

According to Amanda Everard, president of the firm which was founded in Savannah in 2003, approximately 87 percent of the items and lots sold during the auction period which ended Nov. 19. “We had bidders from across the U.S., as well as China, Canada and France,” she said.  “But there were items with reserves as low as $25,” she was quick to add.

The start bid, or reserve, is set by the Everards – her husband Chris is CFO and also works in the firm. “We relisted a handful of items for an additional day with new starts bids,” she added, and “we are conservative to begin with,” in setting reserves, she added.

Everard auctions have always been an online strategy, never an actual live auction. But they how have a showroom where items can be viewed in advance for local and regional buyers, located at 2436 Waters Ave. at the corner of 42nd St., in what many would consider a “tough” neighborhood.

And, while there may be paper over the windows, with the entrance around the back, the interior of the showroom was chock full of beautiful antiques and objects d’art on which to bid at the preview party.

They run a quarterly auction, planned months in advance. “It allows us to live in Savannah and reach a global marketplace.  We get the quality of life and do what we’ve been trained to do,” she explained.

“We have a huge photography auction coming next spring, which will sell one of the largest collections of photography equipment in the U.S,” Everard added.

The firm also does some estate tax, insurance appraisals and charitable donations appraisals, “but the core of our business is auctions,”she said.

She is a graduate of Trinity College with a Bachelors of Arts degree in Art History and Studio Art, and worked at Sotheby’s for 11 years as a coordinator in the Trust and Estate Department, head of the Arcade Furniture Department and most recently as Vice President in the English Furniture Department, and is continuing to work towards her certification as an antiques appraiser, she states.

The Everards use for their online auctiosn, which along with, are the equivalent of on the Web for antique dealers and auction houses. They set up a link to from their company Web site at, and ran the Strahan auction from Oct.30 through Nov. 19.

The Web is a growing part of the antiques, auction and appraisal business, allowing such businesses to reach a much broader national and even international audience of potential buyers, and is a methodology being used by a number of local antique appraisers and dealers.

Savannah’s only certified antique and residential contents appraiser, Beth Kinstler, president of Avalon Appraisals, has used the Web for years to help her reach new clients and to sell their valuable items. She often uses, linking a sale or auction from her Web site at, and just completed an online auction that ran from Nov. 8 through Nov. 21.

Unsold items can still be seen online, and Kinstler can be contacted about a specific item at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Avalon Appraisals is the leading appraisal and estate sale company in Savannah, founded in 1997, which also offers “clean out” services, and has handled a number of estate sales for families at The Landings. She is also an active member of the Savannah Estate Planning Council.

In many cases, even after a successful estate sale, items are left, according to Kinstler.

“I might use an auction house; I might use a jobber – somebody who takes the remainders and pays cash on the spot, and then takes it all away – or I might donate the remainders to gain a tax donation for my client,” Kinstler explained. “It all depends on the clients’ wishes and the value of the items left. But the Internet is gaining as another option to help sell items when there is no local buyer,” she said.

“My strength is doing the appraisal of each item, and then finding the venue to help them liquidate assets. Once people have decided what to keep and what to part with, I help them understand the actual value of various items,” she said, “which can vary depending on a number of variables.”

“In many instances, a client will believe that their personal effects are worth far more than they really are, or hold the belief that because they purchased something 20 years ago, it now has more value. But items fluctuate both up and down, and it’s critical to study constantly,” said Kinstler.

“Right now, prices across the board are very depressed on everything except the rarest and the very best.  That segment of the market has generally held its value, and almost always will – though even there, there has been downward pressure for more than a year,” she added.

Certified appraisers are members of one of the three respected, national appraisal associations, and are required to engage in continuing education and to recertify every five years.

Kinstler just returned from the Tuscaloosa Antiques Symposium, for example, a continuing education event where Wendell Garrett was the keynote speaker. He was formerly head of Sothebys furniture department, and is editor emeritus of Antiques Magazine, the bible of the industry. “It was thrilling,” she said.

Certified appraisals are often needed for other purposes, including insurance valuations, divorces, estate taxes, donations, bankruptcies, loan collateralization and general buying and selling. It’s a professional designation she takes very seriously, as a certified member of the International Society of Appraisers, and serves on ISA’s Designation and Review Committee, making decisions on whether other appraisers around the U.S. should be certified.

Of course, if local buyers want to go to a traditional auction, there are still options in Savannah. Bull Street Auctions holds onsite auction events throughout the year; the company’s next auction will be held on Sunday, Dec. 6, at 2819 Bull St.  Previews are available on Saturday, Dec. 5 from 11 a.m to 2 p.m, and before the auction on Sunday.

Co-owner Lisa Arcos uses the Web to promote her auctions and to provide information on the items in the auction on the company’s Web site at www.bullstreetauctions. Information on the auction is also available through e-mail. The firm accepts quality consignments for the auctions, and helps sellers set their minimums. 

Another brand new young firm in the Savannah area that is using the Web to build an auction business is Alex and Megan Sullivan of The Sullivan House of Pooler.  “But there is no house!” explained Megan. “Our business is all on the Web,” she explained.

The couple uses an online store site at, to sell antiques and other items that they have purchased for re-sell or are selling on consignment for customers. 

Both have full-time jobs, but are augmenting their earnings for now, and building a business for the future, they explained, using their professional training and experience in the antiques and sales fields. “We’re being tutored by one of the finest antique dealers in the South, with over 40 years of experience,” said Megan.

It’s a sign of the times, and the changing antiques business...and another example of how technology is changing the face of an industry to reach a larger customer base.

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