Mid-century furniture, like these Saarinen chairs, is in high demand.
`A house is just a place to keep your stuff
while you go out and get more stuff."
— Comedian George Carlin
remain behind. Cohen also attends the
sales, always on the lookout for books,
sculpture, art — whatever catches his
"I don't necessarily look for Judaica;
but if I come across something, I
will pick it up if the price is right,"
says Cohen, who has taught at Akiva
Hebrew Day School in Southfield for
more than three decades.
He showed a visitor a sculpture,
acquired for a shin (song), that turned
out to be signed by Frank Meisler, a
prominent Israeli artist. Cohen also
tells the tale of purchasing more than
he bargained for. A pair of shoes
turned out to have been the prior
owner's hiding place for $1,100 cash.
"The estate sale company traced the
sale and gave my name to the owner,"
he says. "I was able to return the
money to him."
Cohen shared other extraordinary
finds, including a prayer book printed
in 1699 in Sulzbach, Germany, and a
Chumash (Bible) printed in 1798 in
Offenbach, Germany. Sleuthing on the
Internet, Cohen learned that a twin to
his Chumash recently sold at auction
in London for 9,600 £, or $15,000.
Estate Sale Maven
West Bloomfield resident Marlene
Rosenberg caught the vintage cloth-
ing bug early, having been co-owner
of a new and vintage clothing store in
Royal Oak back in the 1960s. Five min-
utes with this exuberant woman and
you'll never buy retail again.
Rosenberg has found sculpture, furs,
artwork, furniture and more for herself
and for friends and family on the look-
out for special items.
"A lot of people say, 'I don't want
anyone else's stuff' But how many
people have tried on that garment at
Nordstrom's and thrown it on the floor
for the sales girl to pick up before you
tried it on? You just don't need to buy
new:' she says. "Does it matter that
your dishes are stored in a cabinet you
bought at an estate sale? You're talking
of acquiring something of value for
50-60 percent less than you'd find at a
Not only does Rosenberg have her
system down pat — each Wednesday
evening she scopes out estatesales.
net — but she has analyzed just who
lines up at estate sales each Thursday,
Friday and Saturday morning.
Chatting with a visitor at the vintage
Knoll dining suite she picked up a few
years ago, she explains, "Your No. 1
person is a huge collector. They are
always the first 10 people in the door
at any sale. They know exactly what
they are looking for.
"Second are the hobbyists who go
for a look-see. If they find something
they like, they buy. Third are those
who need something but don't want to
spend much. They case the estate sale
on the first day and return on the third
day during the last two hours when
everything has been discounted. They
might have $100 to spend, and they
know they can buy so much more for
Estate Sale Mania on page 20
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August 23 • 2012