Clear the clutter with donations, sales

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published May 31, 2017

 Donations of furniture, home décor and other household items can be dropped off at Humble Design’s Pontiac warehouse, or pickups can be arranged.

Donations of furniture, home décor and other household items can be dropped off at Humble Design’s Pontiac warehouse, or pickups can be arranged.

Photo provided by Humble Design


METRO DETROIT — Spring cleaning.

It’s a fairly broad term that means everything from a little dusting and window washing to sore backs and blistered hands as years of junk is hauled out to the curb.

Clutter is a problem for many, and paring down our things is easier said than done. When garage sales don’t seem like an option, it’s time to look at other ways to shoo out the stuff.

When your clutter can make you a bit of cash, that’s always good news. 

Rick Bahar, owner of Estate 48 estate sale company, said he’s made thousands for his clients who didn’t know how valuable their “junk” really was.

“We let somebody with a third-party perspective come in and look at what you’ve got, someone experienced in that niche area. We’ve built up a team of experts with knowledge on collectibles who can help maximize the income you get from the sale of a lifetime’s accumulation,” said Behar.

These days, Behar’s clients are largely made up of older residents who are looking to downsize to smaller homes. Of course, divorce and death are also reasons why a family might want to liquidate a large portion of their furniture and belongings. But when it comes to letting go of decades’ worth of possessions, it takes someone with a little know-how and a lot of compassion. 

“An estate sale is usually a once-in-a-lifetime experience for a customer, but a weekly thing for estate sale companies. You want to know you’re hiring the right company to host your sale: Do they know the worth of your coveted collectibles? Do they have a way to even the playing field for buyers so that pickers don’t get in first and wipe out everything — that’s people with a large amount of knowledge about a certain area of collectibles that can spot underpriced items,” Behar explained.

Estate 48, in recent years, has shifted its focus to hosting sales in gated communities and condominium complexes, where sales aren’t normally permitted. The company hosts auctions and sales online for those clients without compromising the homeowner’s privacy.

If your house isn’t packed with priceless antiques and sought-after baubles, an estate sale might not be appropriate — but neither is a trip to the dumpster. 

Humble Design can make great use of those household items that still have plenty of wear left, according to designer Lauren Hawkins.

“We work with about seven different agencies,” she explained, mentioning organizations like the Coalition on Temporary Shelter, the South Oakland Shelter and HAVEN of Oakland County. “We get referrals from social workers there for families who have secured housing. It’s those organizations that help people in need on the front end to secure housing. Then we come in and make it a home and a welcoming space.”

The nonprofit, launched in 2009, takes donated furniture, bed linens, artwork, toys and other items and creates beautiful, fully furnished spaces for families transitioning out of homeless shelters. Donated items can be dropped off at Humble Design’s Pontiac warehouse or picked up with the addition of a $30 cash donation.

“The families we work with know what we’re doing in their home, but they never know the extent of what we do. We’re really designing them a home that fits their needs and their personality,” Hawkins said. “And I think people who donate are happy about their items not being resold. We post photos of the reveals after we design a home — and we furnish about three homes a week — and people will follow us on Facebook and say, ‘Hey, there’s that picture I donated,’ or, ‘There’s that bed spread I gave them.’”

To donate to Humble Design, visit or call (248) 243-7144.

To learn about Estate 48 estate sales and auctions, visit