Laura Kinsman loves looking through items that others have left behind.
Kinsman, owner of Williamsburg Estate Services, has been operating her company in the city for 10 years and recently moved to a bigger location at 1820 Jamestown Road to accommodate all of the items she collects and sells.
Alongside her 10 employees, Kinsman’s business goes into homes and properties and collects the items people no longer want. Mainly, she said their business does senior downsizing, which is when an elderly person either moves somewhere else or into a smaller location and can’t take all of their items.
“People will say to me ‘I’ve moved 15 times,’ and I’ll say ‘Yes, but have you done it over 80 [years old]?’” she said.
The idea for the business came after Kinsman’s mother-in-law traveled to New Orleans to help an aunt downsize her home. After returning home, Kinsman noticed how exhausted she was and realized this was a service she could provide for people.
Since then, the business has grown to need an extra 2,000 square feet. Kinsman said the business cleans out about three to four houses a week.
Each estate takes a great deal of effort, Kinsman said, not only to move all of the items but to research and categorize all of them by their value.
“Many people think it’s a treasure hunt but it’s a lot of hard work in the field,” Kinsman said.
During clean-outs of houses, she said the company collects a lot of normal items such as kitchenware and furniture. There are times when the oddity of items makes things more interesting, such as the home that had more than 1,500 cat-themed pieces.
“The fun thing is that when we clean a house, there’s a lot of good and bad mixed in together,” she said. “You never know what you’ll find.”
Not everything holds value, though. Kinsman said the company is diligent to find everything of value in a house, but that means sometimes finding a lot of things that can’t be sold.
When that happens, she said the company donates the items or if they are beyond repair, they throw them away.
But many of the items go up for auction at the monthly estate sales. During the sales, visitors can come to buy various items and Kinsman said the mix of items can be a vast array from garage pieces to decorative rugs.
In between estate sales, visitors generally aren’t allowed to come for purchasing unless they’re buying items in bulk, Kinsman said. However, if there are specific items a person is looking for, that customer can inform the business and they will make a wish list for them.
Kinsman said while the move allows her to retain and sell more items, she doesn’t plan to grow the business much bigger. She said she has thought of growing the staff and cleaning out more houses, but the “sellability” of the items becomes difficult and it would saturate the market.
Now that the business is in a new location, Kinsman said she is excited to see Williamsburg Estate Sales thrive.
To learn more about the next estate auction, visit Williamsburg Estate Sales online.