Roy Dudley has been in the antiques business his entire life. As a child, growing up in Northwest Arkansas, he accompanied his parents to auctions, and he started selling some of his finds while still in elementary school.
Roy worked for Blue Cross & Blue Shield for a number of years, rising in the ranks to be quite successful. During that time, he kept the antiques business as a sideline. He had booths at local antique malls and conducted smaller-scale estate sales. When an opportunity arose to leave the corporate world and pursue his passion full-time, he did so.
Prior to concentrating solely on conducting estate sales, Roy owned and operated several successful antique shops in the Hillcrest and Riverdale areas. In 2006, Roy closed the last of his antique shops to concentrate solely on estate sales.
Over the years he has expanded the business to include both showroom sales and house-based estate sales. In addition, to conducting sales, Roy Dudley Estate Sales provides estate appraisals and estate mediation services.
Listen to the podcast to learn:
[0:00:00.5] KM: My guest today is Mr. Roy Dudley. Founder and owner of Roy Dudley Estate Sales in Little Rock Arkansas. We’ve all heard about children who at an early age are lucky enough to discover their passion and have a knack for entrepreneurship. Well this was Roy Dudley who grew up accompanying his parents to auctions and as early as elementary school, began collecting and had a good eye for selling his finds. His career in treasure hunting was not always on a straight and narrow path.
For a time, the younger Roy worked as account executive at BlueCross BlueShield but on the weekends, he kept his thumb on the pulse of the antique business with booths at local malls, quaint antique shops and on occasional small scale estate sale. It was in 2006 that Roy took the entrepreneurial leap of faith and began to concentrate solely on his Roy Dudley Estate Sale business.
Today, he has a warehouse full of treasures for sale. He provides estate appraisals and has an estate mediation service that we’re going to learn all about today, I’m not sure what that is. It is a pleasure to welcome to the table, the collector, appraiser and dealer extraordinaire, Mr. Roy Dudley.
[0:01:04.0] RD: Thank you Kerry, it’s great to be here.
[0:01:05.5] KM: Welcome to The Dreamland Ballroom.
[0:01:07.3] RD: It’s great and the first one.
[0:01:09.8] KM: First one, that’s right. It’s really beautiful here, isn’t it?
[0:01:12.7] RD: It is really swell, it’s a fabulous building.
[0:01:15.3] KM: You began collecting as early as eight years old?
[0:01:18.2] RD: Probably a little bit earlier, about six. I didn’t really start collecting it, it’s really an interesting story as my mother and father decided they were going to build a replica of an 1850’s Arkansas cabin and they wanted it to be authentic, they wanted it to be in logs, handmade shingles, they wanted everything authentic to the 1850’s.
They hired a man to build this cabin on our farm and my mother decided to go to auctions to buy things to fill the cabin with authentic, primitive antiques that would have been in the house in 1850.
[0:01:51.4] KM: She wasn’t a collecter?
[0:01:52.5] RD: She was not a collector, though she liked antiques. We started going to farm auctions in Washington and Madison County Arkansas and she would say, “I want a wood cook stove” and pretty soon, she would get a wood cook stove for five dollars and then the next week, there would be another wood cook stove and pretty soon she would have eight to ten wood cook stoves or porches or kitchen cabinets.
They got stored in the barn so she sort of became the lady that people from Fayetteville will come out to our farm outside Fayetteville and buy furniture from her. While she was doing that, of course, I was going to the auctions with her. She would say, "Here’s $20, you can bid on things too.” I maybe would buy the contents of a porch or the contents of the kitchen and I would have fun playing with it and setting up camp or whatever I was going to do.
Well, my mother had an older sister who had what we call a perpetual yard sale.
[0:02:43.3] KM: There’s a lot of those now.
[0:02:44.2] RD: Yeah, exactly. She was on highway 71 outside of Fayetteville, anyone that went to a razorback game, probably went by her yard sale. She had this yard sale and she found out I was buying things at the auctions. She said, “Okay, bring some stuff and setup with me at the yard sale.” She was my aunt Hazel, her name is Hazel and I would bring this box and she would say, “Okay, how much did you pay for the box and content?” I would say, “I paid $6 for this box” and she would say, “Okay.” She would root around in the box and she would pull out an item and maybe it was a lamp and she would say, “Okay, I’m going to put $6 on this lamp and when the lamp sells, your inventory is paid for and we’re going to keep track of that box by assigning it an initial. R for Roy.” Everything in that box was six dollars, that was my inventory cost and we would tag and sell those things and goes, “at the end of the weekend, we’ll see how much you made off your $6 investment.”
Maybe II made $45 off that $6 investment. To a six to eight year old kid, hey, that’s bucks. Also, what she was doing, she was teaching me a fabulous lesson in business and economics, closet, profit, how everything works and at the end of the weekend, she really taught me a strong lesson and that was, “Okay, we work for me all weekend long, you’ve made $45 off your $6 investment, you have $39 profit. You’re going to pay me 20% because I gave you the venue to sell your items.”
[0:04:18.1] KM: Love her.
[0:04:19.9] RD: She taught me all about the inventory cost, the cost of doing business, you know, placing the ad, running the ad and then working the sale and paying her for using her expertise and her options of having the sale. That was my first lesson and it just –
[0:04:37.0] KM: You were six or eight years old?
[0:04:38.3] RD: Probably six to eight, yeah. I was third and fourth grade so whatever age that is, probably seven. Yeah.
[0:04:44.4] KM: Yeah.
[0:04:47.8] RD: That was just a lesson and that just parlayed into a fever really, you know, a chance to make money, all the other kids were like mowing Mrs. So and So’s yard or raking leaves, some making $6. I made $50 this weekend, you know? I’ve got it going on.
[0:05:06.3] KM: Your mother kept taking you –
[0:05:09.3] RD: Kept taking me to auctions and then pretty soon I started badgering to go to auctions, we would go to auctions or state sales or whatever venue to buy things and just go to yard sales and have a good time buying these things. I continued selling with aunt Hazel. Went to college –
[0:05:24.3] KM: All the way through college.
[0:05:26.7] RD: I started selling to my mother and my mother’s friends, antique dealers I knew. I would sell things to them and making money to sell time. Well, I got out of college and it was the 80’s and anyone that had a son in the 80’s knows how hot auto insurance was. It was a little different insurance market then and boys were a higher ranking.
Our auto insurance was really high. Out of college, I moved to Little Rock from Fayetteville and I went to work at Arkansas BlueCross and BlueShield and my insurance premiums were crazy high. I wasn’t a bad driver, there was just high for my age bracket.
[0:06:00.8] KM: You were driving? Moved to Little Rock?
[0:06:04.1] RD: I moved to Little Rock. I was trying to make money so I started going to local estate sales and once again buying things and reselling and pretty soon I had a mentor, I’m lucky in my life to have a lot of mentors who have taught me lessons and just inform me about business and just I really listened to them. My very first mentor besides my mother and my aunt Hazel was John Banks, from Fayetteville Arkansas.
He was a renowned antiques dealer and I moved to Little Rock, I was going to the state sales so I was buying stuff and I was selling to John and John said, “You know? I really appreciate you selling these things to me and I love that opportunity but I think you should try to sell your things locally.”
[0:06:45.4] KM: Get out of wholesale and get into –
[0:06:46.2] RD: Exactly. Which was a very smart thing to do. I rented a booth and went to local antiques malls and that spawned it all. While I was working at BlueCross, I had a secondary business in an antique –
[0:07:02.1] KM: You spent your weekends going over there and restocking.
[0:07:03.9] RD: Well, I actually spent the weekend shopping and then spending a little bit time, Saturday or Sunday afternoon restocking the booth and making it look good because it’s a man facility. You rent a space and you just put the items and price it and then there’s a main desk where the purchases are made.
[0:07:19.7] KM: That’s a lot of work.
[0:07:20.2] RD: Yeah, but you know, it was good money.
[0:07:22.9] KM: You got to love it?
[0:07:24.2] RD: I absolutely love antiques, I love my job, I’ll always have something that I always enjoyed doing and while I enjoy my job at BlueCross and I was good at my job, it wasn’t what I was meant to do and I think we all –
[0:07:36.8] KM: You could just tell.
[0:07:37.2] RD: Yeah, we all know that businesses, we have our gift and that my gift was definitely with antiques.
[0:07:43.5] KM: What made you decide to leave BlueCross BlueShield?
[0:07:45.7] RD: I did not make that decision.
[0:07:47.2] KM: Lay off?
[0:07:48.1] RD: Yeah, I worked for subsidiary of BlueCross which was called US Able Systems and we sell computer software packages to other BlueCross plants which is already a very limited market, you know? 50 plants in America or less. The subsidiary work for BlueCross, the parent company decided to close us down in 2000 and at that point, I was 36 and I can go on into all tail Axiom, others, same type of arenas. BlueCross were going to offer me a chance to go back there and I thought you know, I’m going to try to wing this and do something myself. I’m really frustrated working for a company where I don’t get to make the rules and I want to see if I can do what my passion is.
My goals was to find a way to make a living out of being Roy Dudley. Not being Roy Dudley the software person, the account manager, Roy Dudley, anything, I wanted to make a living out of my passion which was antiques and sharing that knowledge and meeting the people getting out in the trenches and working with that and that’s what I want to do so I said, “I’m going to work and try to make a living out of being myself” and here we are in 2018 and seven people make a full time living out of Roy Dudley.
[0:09:04.6] KM: Really? Seven employees.
[0:09:06.7] RD: Full time employees.
[0:09:06.8] KM: I had no idea.
[0:09:07.8] RD: Yeah, you know, basically, my dream of being self-sufficient and doing my passion has parlayed into a business.
[0:09:15.1] KM: Into helping other people too?
[0:09:16.3] RD: Absolutely. Yeah, I have a great job.
[0:09:19.5] KM: All right, this is a great place to take a break. When we come back, we’ll continue our conversation with Roy Dudley, founder of Roy Dudley Estate Sales, we’ll talk about antiques, how to tell a good one from a reproduction, about the do’s and don’ts of restoration, I don’t know if you all heard about the Ming Vase that was recently turned into a lamp, we’ll talk about that and we’ll continue talking about the business side of treasure hunting. More to come right after this.
[SPONSOR MESSAGE] Arkansas Flag and Banner is proud to underwrite Up In Your Business with Kerry McCoy. McCoy began this broadcast with the intention of offering a mentoring platform for those with an entrepreneurial spirit. Through candid conversations and interesting interviews with business and community minded Arkansans, listeners gain insight into starting and running a business.
The ups and downs of risk taking and the commonalities of successful people. Kerry McCoy founder and president of Arkansas flag and banner believes in paying knowledge and experience forward and developed this radio show as a means of doing so. The biographies, life experiences and wisdom of her guest would likely go unheard if not for this venue.
Rarely do people open up for an hour to an audience about their life in the stakes, triumphs and pitfalls. This unique radio show allows the listener intimate access into the stories of prominent leaders in our states. I’m Adrian McNally, manager of the Arkansas flag and banner show room and gift shop, located on the first floor of the historic Devonian hall on the corner of ninth and state streets in downtown Little Rock Arkansas.
In business for 43 years, we offer an old school shopping experience with front door parking, clerks to help you and department store variety. Open Monday through Friday, eight to 5:30 and Saturday, 10 to four.
[0:11:03.9] KM: Okay, go ahead inside, they call you and Roy, I need a –
[0:11:06.0] RD: The house is empty, I need to get out of here and you know, sometimes they want a house base sale where we have a sale in the neighborhood in the house or they may need to move the item so then we either move them in our show room or B to the warehouse.
[0:11:20.1] KM: If it goes to the warehouse, how long does it sit there?
[0:11:22.4] RD: We try to get it out within two to three months but you know, sometimes –
[0:11:25.8] KM: You have that much warehouse that turns over two to three months?
[0:11:29.3] RD: Yes. It is phenomenal the amount of things that go through Roy Dudley Estate Sales hands.
[0:11:37.7] KM: How many employees did you say you had?
[0:11:39.1] RD: We have seven full time employees and we have a pool of about 15 part timers that can help.
[0:11:44.4] KM: you just call them in and say…
[0:11:46.4] RD: You know, maybe it’s like. We had a sale a few years ago in Greenbrier, we had that call in, anyone that could do any form of appraising, we’ve got movers, we’ve got people who clean, crushers, I have a lot of people who have a vent that can help me decorate with the stuff.
[0:12:04.1] KM: Is there something you’re exceptionally good at finding and collecting?
[0:12:08.1] RD: I have been sort of an innate ability of understanding what Kerry McCoy wants and remembering what she wants.
[0:12:16.3] KM: Really?
[0:12:17.8] RD: It’s a neat ability but I can say, I mean, we’re crossing stuff, and the whole stuff and all the customers should not laugh about it because I can pull a tea pot and say, “Kerry McCoy’s going to buy this” and everyone laughs and then Kerry McCoy comes in and buys the tea pot. That’s sort of my ability, I also have a good ability to tell an antique and a fake.
[0:12:41.9] KM: Let’s talk about that, how do you do that?
[0:12:43.1] RD: Well, it depends on what different item it is and the one thing I like to clear up for maybe the novice to know is for an antique has to be 100 years old to be qualified for an antique. A lot of people who say they are antiques dealers or an antique mall or something, they may not necessarily be selling antiques so as a customer, you need to know that.
[0:13:04.6] KM: They’re more like periods, they’re buying a 50, 20.
[0:13:08.1] RD: Yeah, something from the 50’s is highly collectible but it’s not an antique, it’s vintage. Basically, you know, with each category, you can tell with paper, if it’s a vintage paper, it’s going to be over 100 years old, that’s going to have a rag content which means it has some fabric mixed in with the pulp to give the paper a different feel. Construction, you know, as far as the techniques inside the drawers, underneath, everyone looks at the exterior of a table and think, that’s the great thing.
I can tell you more about the table by looking underneath it or underneath a chair, you can tell more about the construction, the age but not necessarily the finished and the appearance but the construction and that’s going to tell you a lot.
[0:13:49.9] KM: Are you self-taught on all of that?
[0:13:51.5] RD: Yes. Well you know, self-taught to some degree. John Banks was a phenomenal influence, I talk about him being the infamous, the late John Banks. A great Fayetteville antiques dealer who I apprenticed with by his side for three or four years and he taught me incredible things about that.
There are other dealers who always share their knowledge and then of course, cruising antique evaluation guys, coffee table books. I’m constantly looking –
[0:14:19.1] KM: You watch antique roadshow?
[0:14:20.1] RD: I don’t watch antique roadshow very much. That’s actually – you talk about something like you know, getting up and going to an estate sale does not make me nervous but watching antiques roadshow makes me nervous.
[0:14:30.2] KM: Why?
[0:14:30.8] RD: I don’t know, I guess I’m so excited and I also don’t want ever to disappoint a person, I think sometimes the evaluations they give are a little bit unrealistic. They’re doing it for a little bit, it’s reality television to some degree, they’re doing it to get a little slash.
[0:14:46.6] KM: That’s probably why you don’t like it. It’s because you know it’s not really real.
[0:14:50.6] RD: Maybe so.
[0:14:51.7] KM: Everything. Running an antique store sounds really hard. Running an antique store.
[0:14:57.5] RD: Yeah.
[0:14:58.6] KM: You did that before your Roy Estate.
[0:15:00.4] RD: Yes. I’ve had three antique shops here in Little Rock, a lot of people don’t remember that but I’ve had two shops on Cavanagh and one on Cantrell. It’s a different world, it’s a slower pace and you’ve got to turn that merchandise over and get a reason for people to come into the door, they want to see you, they want to buy something from the owner and they want your merchandise to change and be new and that would be my advice to –
[0:15:24.1] KM: You got to be there. Did you keep it open eight to five, Monday through Friday or Monday through Saturday?
[0:15:28.7] RD: 11 to five Tuesday through Saturday. I always close Sunday and Monday.
[0:15:33.6] KM: Because you have that time to go shopping.
[0:15:35.6] RD: Had the time to go shopping but it’s a commitment, it’s a big commitment and you know, people love the shop with the owner, they want to talk with you.
[0:15:45.3] KM: If you were going to give advice to a collector who wants to support his habit which is a lot of people have these habits.
[0:15:52.2] RD: Sure, yeah. I do know that, I see some habits.
[0:15:56.2] KM: Do you recommend getting an antique booth at an antique mall to kind of push your stuff out the door so that you can turn it over a little bit?
[0:16:02.7] RD: Yeah, the one thing I think that most really serious collectors they wind up dealers. I think the one thing to do is to learn and that is to talk to other dealers, watch what people are buying, what shoppers, now we’re so blessed to have Facebook and Instagram and a million other things that you can actually get your finger on the pulse of what people are talking about, what’s generating buzz that I didn’t have.
You know, I think, watch your auction sites, eBay, One King’s Lane, First Dibs. Look at all those places and learn from those other dears. Learn that. I think a booth is a good place to start but also go in realistically and know that just there’s people say, “If I pay $50 for this, to double my money," that’s not always an option, you know?
[0:16:50.5] KM: I would think that it’s not very much. Don’t you have to pay the flea market?
[0:16:55.4] RD: Right, that’s what some people say, people coming in they say, “Hey, I’ve made my rent this month, I’ve made money.” No, you haven’t. You’ve lost money because you’ve got your cost of inventory, you have your insurance, you have your taxes, you have your space rental so you know, there’s a lot of factors besides just making your space rental money.
[0:17:13.0] KM: Do you compete with people that don’t have business permits?
[0:17:16.1] RD: Yes, you do.
[0:17:19.2] KM: I would think that would be big in your industry, people would not get business permits.
[0:17:22.6] RD: Well, that’s something that we’ve talked a lot about this state sale industry, the auction world is regulated by standards and ethics and rules. The estate sale liquidator world is not. Technically, anyone can throw their hand out there and say, "I’m doing an estate sale” but you know, you need to be educated, have a license.
[0:17:44.2] KM: Yeah.
[0:17:44.6] RD: Yeah.
[0:17:47.0] KM: I think this a great place for us to take another break. When we come back, we’ll continue our conversation with Roy Dudley, founder of Roy Dudley Estate Sales, we’ll have him explain the do’s and don’ts of antiquing and restoring because restoration’s a big deal. I know you’re not supposed to restore a lot of stuff.
And we’ll talk more about the business of treasure hunting.
[SPONSOR MESSAGE] Arkansas Flag and Banner is proud to underwrite up in your business with Kerry McCoy. McCoy began this broadcast with the intention of offering a mentoring platform for those with an entrepreneurial spirit. Through candid conversations and interesting interviews with business and community minded Arkansans, listeners gain insight into starting and running a business.
The ups and downs of risk taking and the commonalities of successful people. Kerry McCoy founder and president of Arkansas Flag and Banner believes in paying knowledge and experience forward and developed this radio show as a means of doing so. The biographies, life experiences and wisdom of her guest would likely go unheard if not for this venue.
Rarely do people open up for an hour to an audience about their life in the stakes, triumphs and pitfalls. This unique radio show allows the listener intimate access into the stories of prominent leaders in our states. I’m Adrian McNally, manager of the Arkansas Flag and Banner show room and gift shop, located on the first floor of the historic Devonian hall on the corner of ninth and state streets in downtown Little Rock Arkansas.
In business for 43 years, we offer an old school shopping experience with front door parking, clerks to help you and department store variety. Open Monday through Friday, eight to 5:30 and Saturday, 10 to four.
[0:19:24.2] KM: Before the break, we were talking about you, well, I don’t know if we want to go all the way back, we talked about you starting your business, adorning capitalism when you were eight years old from aunt Hazel and then we talked about you leaving the corporate world and going out on your own and like so many entrepreneurs say, you spent two years putting your money back into your business.
[0:19:48.7] RD: Yes.
[0:19:48.2] KM: I did the same thing. I think that you just need to be prepared to do that. I think it’s interesting that you even use part of your IRA and retirement to do it, that means you are really committed.
[0:19:58.5] RD: I was committed, yeah.
[0:19:59.7] KM: You were really committed and when you left the BlueCross BlueShield, you started out with antique stores, antique malls, which always kept all your life and then got serious with antique stores and you had to spend your weekends running around, finding these treasures. It’s a seven day a week job, all the time?
Somewhere in there, you decided you were also doing small estate sales but somewhere in there you decided to get out of a retail store front and strictly into Roy Dudley Estate Sales. How did that come about?
[0:20:32.0] RD: Well, it came about in a very odd way and I think that we talk about how businesses grow organically and I was doing the small estate sales in homes and everything was growing great and someone, there was a gift shop in the heights that went out of business and –
[0:20:49.5] KM: Which one?
[0:20:50.4] RD: Et cetera. Actually, Mrs. Samuel. Lila Samuel passed away and I’m going to give them all a great amount of credit Mr. Samuel for sort of inspiring me and going on. He called me, he said, “Roy, my wife has passed away and we’re needing to liquidate the shop and we have a few things of hers from the house that we want to sell, would you be interested in doing a sale in our retail environment.” I was like, he said, “she’s got some friends who want to sell some stuff.”
I was like, “You know, sure, I’ll do that” and that afternoon, my phone rang 17 times from 17 people who wanted to sell a few things. They didn’t want a house based sale, have enough for a house based to sale but they had things they wanted to sell. They heard I was doing a sale in the Et cetera building so 30 consignors later, we had a sale in the Et cetera Building in the Heights.
It was a great success. Organically, I thought hey, there’s a market for people who maybe don’t have enough to have a whole house based estate sale. We started what we call our show room which is an empty room like this and 30 people bring stuff in, we decorate it, keep their initial straight just like aunt Hazel.
Here we are, grown up, I’m still doing what aunt Hazel did which is tagging things with initials and we’re selling things for other people. That parlayed into the bulk of our business and doing our show room sales and our show room is at Cantrell Mississippi and that’s – each one of those sales probably has 30 consigners.
[0:22:21.3] KM: You just kind of let your lease run out on your buildings and took all that stuff and moved it in.
[0:22:26.1] RD: Yeah, I just decided, you know, this is – I can’t do the antiques business just as I’m not out there finding stuff, I’m not in the shop enough to take care of the people. I was just going to go to estate sales. And estate sales are really great for me because I meet lots of new shoppers, I meet lots of new consigners and the stuff, when the shop can get stale, you get tired of it with an estate sale, it all goes away within the matter of three weeks. It’s not you know, you don’t get tired of your inventory. It’s a great situation.
[0:22:58.6] KM: But you have to move it around all the time. When I see you.
[0:23:03.2] RD: That’s the cost you know? I have to, and a good example is, if you call me and say, “I need this in our house,” I’m going to come to your house and visit you. I’m going to send, come back with my guys or my guys are going to come and they’re going to pack your things up so they’re going to touch it, pack it up, it’s going to go on our truck where it falls under my insurance policy, it’s going to be moved to our location where I’m going to pay someone to unpack it, we’re going to clean it, we’re going to tag it, we’re going to arrange it and make it look pretty with everybody else’s stuff.
Then we’re going to have a public sale which I will pay for advertising. I’m paying a lease on the building and then we’re going to curate, when someone else comes in and they want to buy something, we’re going to curate to the cashier, we’re going to wrap it, we’re going to record it so that proper consigners are paid and we’re going to carry it out the door.
[0:23:49.6] KM: That’s a lot of steps.
[0:23:50.7] RD: It’s a lot of steps and a lot of –
[0:23:53.4] KM: You got to trust your people.
[0:23:54.6] RD: I have the best employees but yes, you do have to trust your people and to some degree, the customers have to trust us completely too that A, that we’re going to take care of this stuff and that we know what we’re doing, we’re going to sell it for a fair amount.
[0:24:05.1] KM: How often do you open up your warehouse?
[0:24:06.9] RD: We open our warehouse up about every six weeks and our warehouse sales run three weekends. We have a Friday, Saturday weekend where everything is full price. Close, reopen the next Friday, Saturday, Sunday, everything is 20% off, close, reopen the third weekend, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, everything it 50% off.
At the end of that cycle, someone I have a whole sale who comes and buys everything that’s left then building his empty, we start all over again. The inventory that the customers see of Roy Dudley will change every six –
[0:24:42.0] KM: Every three months.
[0:24:42.8] RD: Yeah, every six weeks. Yeah, it changes every six weeks.
[0:24:48.4] KM: I am so impressed. I had no idea.
[0:24:52.0] RD: No one realize and it’s when you think we probably go around 350 consigners or so in a year. In one year, I’m dealing with roughly 350 individuals or families that we deal with. That’s sort of how our business works and the show room sales, we still do house based sales because our people who may –
[0:25:13.0] KM: That’s where I always see you.
[0:25:14.1] RD: You know, you tell a great story because I was doing light sales all around your personal house and you said, I’m nailing my furniture down, you’re getting too close. Three sales around you. But still do house made sales but there are more and more instances where people, new home buyers maybe don’t want someone in the house. Maybe people live in a gated community, the neighborhoods where they have cabinets where you can’t have sales.
There are lots of reasons that people don’t want to have a sale in the house anymore and that’s where our showroom really takes off and helps that.
[0:25:41.5] KM: Part of the fun of coming to your sales in the houses though is to see the house.
[0:25:43.9] RD: See the house.
[0:25:44.9] KM: I went to one of your shows a month ago downtown across from the governor’s mansion.
[0:25:49.1] RD: beautiful house.
[0:25:50.9] KM: and it sold I saw the other day.
[0:25:52.0] RD: Yeah, actually, the night before the sale.
[0:25:54.9] KM: It did?
[0:25:55.8] RD: Yeah, but no, that’s part of it and a lot of people do love to see the houses and that’s the charm and the one thing when someone calls me, I’m going to be able to give them advice and saying, “We’re going to make more money if we can do this sale of your stuff out of the house, where people will be curious to come see the house or where it sets a real personality or maybe it’s just best to add it into a show room” and a lot of people want confidentiality from selling their stuff.
You know, a lot of people don’t want people to know they’re selling their things.
[0:26:23.8] KM: Yeah, when you go in to one of your sales, even if it’s in somebody’s home, you may have brought stuff in from another –
[0:26:31.0] RD: We very rarely do that.
[0:26:32.5] KM: Okay.
[0:26:32.6] RD: Most everything with our show room, we would take the things into our show room with the house based sale, we’re going to keep everything in this, in the house and not bring other stuff in.
[0:26:42.2] KM: That’s kind of easier to keep up with because you don’t have to keep with –
[0:26:45.0] RD: It is nightmare. Plus, if I’m going to represent you, I want to bring your stuff into a three weekend sale, not a three-day sale.
[0:26:52.0] KM: What a sensitive subject. It’s such a sensitive subject. I mean, grandma has just died and all the kids want her stuff. How do you deal with that?
[0:27:03.9] RD: Well, something I tell all of my staff, we iterate each other all the time but we’ve focused on with our new employees but we come in someone’s life at a very emotional time. You know, the easiest situation we come to is a move. Maybe you’re moving and you’ve got stuff you want to sell. We come in and everyone knows, moves aren’t easy and we come in and divorces and bankruptcies and deaths and you know.
[0:27:29.3] KM: You got a degree in psychology?
[0:27:30.8] RD: I should have. I do now and mediation. You know, the one thing people need to remember is just because you love your grandmother, you love your mother and as we all should, you don’t have to have their possession to have that memory.
[0:27:45.1] KM: You just need one of them, you don’t need all of them.
[0:27:46.5] RD: Yeah, you don’t have to – don’t burden yourself with that, you still have your memory just because you have the punch bowl, you still remember grandma’s punch.
[0:27:54.8] KM: That’s right, that’s a nice way to say it. What percentage’s about do you normally take off something like that?
[0:28:02.2] RD: We are –
[0:28:03.9] KM: 50%?
[0:28:05.0] RD: We are somewhere between 35 and 50% depending on the estate.
[0:28:09.1] KM: Yeah.
[0:28:09.3] RD: And the location.
[0:28:09.6] KM: After I listened to all the steps you have in there and all the people you have to pay and the insurance and the –
[0:28:16.1] RD: Yeah, taxes.
[0:28:17.4] KM: The moving it around and all that.
[0:28:19.5] RD: Worker’s comp.
[0:28:20.5] KM: I know.
[0:28:21.4] RD: Things that we don’t think about, that you have to have.
[0:28:24.6] KM: What’s the best thing you’ve ever found. If there’s one thing that sticks out in your mind?
[0:28:27.9] RD: The one thing that sticks out of my mind is a little bit of a story but I think we have a bit of a time. We were doing a sale for a very old family here in Little Rock. They had actually built the house in 1870 and there was some out of state heirs and they called and they said, “Would you come and look at our sale, we’re interested you doing it.” I drove out and met them and when I pulled in front of the house, there was a dumpster in front of the house and it was one that you rented from Lowes and they would come haul it away.
It was full of all the stuff and I went in the house, met the nieces and nephew and I said, “What’s in the dumpster?” They said, “Oh we cleaned the attic out this morning” and I was like, “No, no, no don’t do that” and they’re like, “Well we already have Lowes coming to pick the dumpster up” and I said, “Well would you mind if I brought my guys out and we pull the dumpster under the carport and then we’ll still call them but give me a chance to go to the dumpster first?” they were like, “Sure.” So we got to the dumpster and what we didn’t know and they didn’t tell me, the best part of my job was being a detective.
So we are in this dumpster and we’ll going through them and we found this binder and what we discovered that we knew we were working for their maiden aunt that had never married. Well there were two sisters who never married in this family and they stayed in the family home and they were emptying their things out of the attic and one of the sisters was an art teacher and she taught art at the Rower Internment Camp in Little Rock, Arkansas for the Japanese-Americans.
So she taught art there every summer and she saved, I mean chill bumps talking about it, she saved all of the children’s art and she had a journal for every day she was there in the camp and what was going on in the people’s names and the personal art that the kids drew and also that adults drew because the classes report every one. So there is just this incredible capsule of a sad time of America and this is capsuled and I am proud to say that collection is now in the University of Arkansas.
And we were able to pull that out of a dumpster and get it to people so that everyone can enjoy it and that is one of the finds that I am most proud of is the fact that we pulled something out of this eminent death. It was going to dump and it got to where everyone can enjoy it and everyone can see what was going on in those people’s everyday life.
[0:30:36.5] KM: It is a historically significant event.
[0:30:38.2] RD: Yeah, it was very significant and it was great that we had a part in that.
[0:30:42.2] KM: I love that. Let’s take another break. When we come back, we’ll continue our conversation with Roy Dudley, founder of Roy Dudley Estate Sales. We’ll talk about restoration, the do’s and don’ts because somebody turned to mean vase into a lamp. We are going to ask him about that.
[0:32:17.6] KM: Before we went to break, we were talking about the business of estate sales and I think it is fascinating how many steps you have to go through. We talked about the psychology of working with the families, that’s a big deal and then we talked about what I like about the state sale business is you don’t have an inventory. All the inventory is what?
[0:32:38.5] RD: New equipment.
[0:32:39.1] KM: Yeah.
[0:32:39.8] RD: And the inventory belongs to someone else.
[0:32:41.3] KM: Yeah, I love that. Consignment I guess you’d kind of say yeah and then we talked about how much work goes in to getting ready for an estate sale. You’ve got to go of course go make the sale, look at the stuff then box it up gingerly.
[0:32:57.5] RD: Gingerly, correctly.
[0:32:59.3] KM: And correctly and take it back to your place, plain it, label it, price it then either move it again or display it in a way –
[0:33:07.7] RD: Right, attractively.
[0:33:09.6] KM: And then you have to keep up with where it came from, who it belongs to so you can pay the consignment money back to them.
[0:33:15.9] RD: Right, pay the consignment back to the people, exactly and then the one thing we have been entered is just one of my favorite parts of the business is dealing with the public because you don’t know what’s –
[0:33:25.8] KM: You like that part?
[0:33:26.4] RD: I do because you don’t know what’s going to walk in the door. I mean a circus may walk in the door and yeah, I like that. I like people. So you know you are also going with the variable of the public.
[0:33:37.1] KM: Oh yeah you are. I have been doing it for 42 years.
[0:33:39.9] RD: And that’s where you have to remember that customer service, those customer service mantras and that’s what allows to have a business are those people walking in the door.
[0:33:47.8] KM: Well it is better face to face because I did a lot of email and internet and man, they get on those emails sometimes and they can be crazy a little bit.
[0:33:56.8] RD: Well and of course in the world we’re seeing here, social media has changed everything too and I get comments on social media posts that in reality –
[0:34:04.0] KM: They would never do, they would never say.
[0:34:06.2] RD: No one would ever say those things.
[0:34:06.9] KM: And that is kind of bizarre.
[0:34:08.9] RD: Yeah.
[0:34:09.1] KM: So let’s talk about restoring something.
[0:34:11.3] RD: Okay.
[0:34:11.7] KM: This drives me crazy. It drives me crazy that people buy stuff, sand it down and put new varnish on it, is that right or wrong?
[0:34:19.0] RD: Well and now particularly you know it’s the chalk painting phase so people are painting everything. Well there’s a paint that has a chalk formula mixed in it and everyone is painting this sort of milk paint weathered pieces and I’ve sold a ton of furniture, traditional furniture that people are painting that may have a wood finish when that leaves me in two weeks is going to have a painted finish.
[0:34:40.8] KM: Painted furniture comes in and out of style.
[0:34:43.3] RD: Right now it is very in so if something –
[0:34:44.9] KM: I don’t even feel like antiques are really popular right now, do you?
[0:34:47.1] RD: No, they’re not and –
[0:34:48.5] KM: There was a time.
[0:34:49.5] RD: Well the 80’s and 90’s when I had those booze in that shop that was the time.
[0:34:54.1] KM: Oh tables were the craze.
[0:34:55.2] RD: Yeah, everyone wanted really everything. You could sell almost anything that now it is a really harder market and antiques aren’t in favor. They still have value. They just don’t have the value of what you might have paid for in the 80’s or 90’s.
[0:35:09.9] KM: Yeah because people are liking modern furniture.
[0:35:12.4] RD: They are and also you have to realize that I am now liquidating the baby boomer generation of stuff and that’s the largest generation in America. So maybe right now there’s such a saturation of goods on the market from people downsizing. There is such a huge downsizing phase and their kids don’t want it. The kids want modern or they want minimal or they want –
[0:35:35.9] KM: Minimalism is so in.
[0:35:37.3] RD: Right, well they want as a good friend of mine in Saint Louise told me which he was very astute and very wise. He said, “They all want an antique and one, you know they want the great antique in their dining room. They don’t want an antique dining room.” They want just one staying there and everyone says, “Oh that’s neat as an old bicycle, great” on restoring antiques, I have a different theory. There is an intellectual educated theory and then there is the live with theory and I go to you have to live with your antiques.
That’s the beauty of having antique is that you get to enjoy it and then live with it and you need to modify that to your life. Now, 90% of the things that we see that people call this antiques are not antiques. So do the new finish, paint on them a little bit on but there are antiques that have their original finish. Drilling a vase is not good, people do things to metals and silver. I always just consult with someone who knows something before you do it.
And say, “Hey”, I get people calling me all the time. They are saying, “Hey, I have this dresser. Should I refinish it?” and that’s a five minute question for me and I am always happy to answer those because –
[0:36:47.0] KM: Well that’s nice, how do people call you? How do people get in touch with you?
[0:36:48.9] RD: Yeah, they can get in touch with me. They can call, we have two business numbers, 501-666-1344.
[0:36:56.3] KM: That was so fast.
[0:36:57.4] RD: Yeah, 501-666-5856.
[0:37:01.0] KM: We’ll put that on Flag and Banner’s website with your podcast. If anybody wants it, we’ll put the link there.
[0:37:04.5] RD: Thank you.
[0:37:05.2] KM: And you said there was another number?
[0:37:06.6] RD: And my cell phone, 590-5242 –
[0:37:08.9] KM: You don’t need to give your cell phone out.
[0:37:10.3] RD: Oh it’s all rolled in one number.
[0:37:12.4] KM: They do?
[0:37:12.7] RD: Yeah, I have found in my business that people want to talk to me. I’ve had employees that monitor phones. I’ve had other people that try to take over the phones but basically that’s the most important job and that’s the face of our company that’s talking to those new customers, talking to those existing customers and maybe even talking to someone who is not a customer. That’s the most important job for a business owner. It is to be that face of that business.
[0:37:36.7] KM: You have a lot of repeat business. Your word of mouth is huge.
[0:37:40.6] RD: Yeah, it’s huge and I am very proud to say now I am working with three generations. There are some families that I’ve worked with liquidating the grandmother stuff. I’ve worked with the mother, I’m working with the daughter and it is pleasing to know that people are coming back generational.
[0:37:54.4] KM: If you could tell yourself something of 20 years ago, what would it be?
[0:37:57.4] RD: Be more selective in everything in life.
[0:38:04.6] KM: I love that.
[0:38:06.1] RD: But I think probably, I would probably have slow downed a little bit, work hard in your business, getting your business built and then be selective of where your business goes that you don’t need to please everyone, you need to please yourself.
[0:38:18.5] KM: That’s right, you can’t please everybody and I was going to ask you who has probably left the biggest impression in your life and who is the person that made you who you are today, is it Hazel or Banks or your parents I guess?
[0:38:31.5] RD: Well, you know everyone. All different phases, parents and Hazel was instrumental. John Banks, a lady in town, Adrienne Cockerel who did estate sales has given me numeral crazy advice. The late June Blankenship, they all have shared their knowledge and that’s something I work really hard on. I want to share my knowledge with someone new.
[0:38:52.2] KM: Love it. So I’ll put a link to how to get in touch with you on and I’ll share it with you and we have a gift for coming on since you do antiques, this is kind of an antique license plate.
[0:39:03.5] RD: Yeah, thank you. Thank you very much. I love that.
[0:39:06.1] KM: From flagandbanner.com, yeah you’re welcome. Thank you so much Roy.
[0:39:08.7] RD: I love being here Kerry, thank you.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
[0:39:09.2] AM: Arkansas Flag and Banner is proud to underwrite Up In Your Business with Kerry McCoy. McCoy began this broadcast with the intention of offering a mentoring platform for those with an entrepreneurial spirit. Through candid conversations and interesting interviews with business and community minded Arkansans, listeners gain insight into starting and running a business, the ups and downs of risk taking and the commonalities of successful people.
Kerry McCoy, founder and president of Arkansas Flag and Banner, believes in paying knowledge and experience forward and develops this radio show as a means of doing so. The biographies, life experiences and wisdom of her guest would likely go unheard if not for this venue. Rarely do people open up for an hour to an audience about their life in the states, triumphs and pitfalls. This unique radio show allows the listener intimate access into the stories of prominent leaders in our states.
I am Adrienne McNally, manager of the Arkansas Flag and Banner showroom and gift shop, located on the first floor of the historic Taborian Hall on the corner of 9th and States street in downtown Little Rock, Arkansas. In business for 43 years, we offer an old school shopping experience with front door parking, clerks to help you and department store variety.