Decluttering tips from the estate sales and property clearing company, Unexpected Treasures

Prior to the pandemic, the market was awash with antique furniture, artwork, china, cut glass, fine linens and useful older household items. Even by early 2020, buyers in the Bay Area were disappearing.  Aging collectors were selling off their collections rather than buying.

Antique stores were struggling and many closed. Consignment stores were becoming very particular about what they would accept. A major auction house in San Francisco closed its furniture department because furniture just wasn’t selling.  Non-profit charities increasingly were selective, as they were flooded with donations.  All this before the Pandemic.

Pandemic shelter-in-place (SIP) orders in March caused retail stores to close at least temporarily, including antiques and consignment stores and charity resale shops.  Auctions, flea markets, and most estate sales companies ceased public operations, many for the duration of SIP.  Antique shows across the country, including the venerable Hillsborough Antique + Art + Design Show held in San Mateo, were canceled until further notice.  Dealers have few places to sell treasures other than online.

A good future is in store, however.  Although social distancing and other restrictions have made estate sales and property liquidations very challenging, there is light at the end of the tunnel.  Unexpected Treasures continues to offer a full service to clear out personal property by selling, donating, and hauling.  When finished, your house is completely cleared out.

Unexpected Treasures’ sales now are private, by appointment, to specialty buyers. We and they are masked, use hand sanitizer and observe social distancing.  Our buyers will respond to our invitation only if the sale offers compelling high-quality items. They want the very best and the rare and unusual.  Good condition is critical.  Furniture and ordinary household items have little or no market, and this includes antiques and expensive contemporary furniture.

Because our sales are closed to the general public, more household items remain unsold.  Although fewer local charities currently accept donations, and many remain closed, one by one they are returning. We have good long-standing relationships with many, and we continue to find new non-profits with whom to work.  Nevertheless, donating good items has become more expensive.  We must deliver more donations– usually as truckloads – to other towns.

Ultimately there are more “leftovers” remaining to haul away. The cost of hauling already was high and getting higher. Dump fees and removal costs continue to increase.


What ARE folks buying, you are asking.  And what do they not want to buy.  Here’s the nitty gritty:

“Desirable” items

Not Desirable and Hard To Sell (unless very fine or rare)

Unexpected Treasures, We serve San Mateo and northern Santa Clara Counties, south to Los Altos.