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Home Vivian's Blog Vivian Duplant Cash & Cari, Treasure Hunter - Estate Sales or Garage Sales on HGTV

Vivian's Blog

I will try to write as often as I can about different things happening at the Estate Sales or about antiques, antiquing, appraisals, and anything else that comes to mind.  There will also be tips and information about how to get the best bargains.

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Cash & Cari, Treasure Hunter - Estate Sales or Garage Sales on HGTV

Well, I watched another episode of Cash & Cari on HGTV.  I'm afraid that my opinion took another hit.  Let me add to my previous review of the show.

For the show's principal, Cari Cucksey, this was a high end sale.  She kept talking about the great antiques and how nice a sale it was.  Looking at the estate, I thought it was nice as well.  In this area, it was probably close to a $30,000 sale on a good day; $25,000 on a not so good day.

There were a few differences that I noticed in this episode from the others I have seen.  HGTV has added a few detail inserts into the show.  All at once there is a bit of information about a particular antique or maker.  While the information was good, it was a little intrusive and I couldn't help but wonder if it wasn't an attempt to add to the shows "authority" after so much negative publicity on the Internet.

What was really interesting about this episode was how she set up the sale (the same way she has in the previous episodes but those sales were not as "high end").  For example, she had some rather nice sets of china and there was a lot of conversation about them.  They talked about the makers and gave a little history.  She expressed some concern on being able to get a good price for them.  So how does she display them?  She sets them on a card table....  Yes, that is right, a card table.  No table cloth, fancy covers or plate stands or anything else, just on a bare top of a card table.  As is evident in many ways, she really doesn't follow some of the basics for getting the best results from her sales.  Did she actually think that was a proper display for such a beautiful set of china?  Did she think putting nice china on a card table helped people see their beauty or enhanced their value?  I am absolutely amazed.  Does she not understand the very basics of displaying merchandise so they will not only look great to a perspective buyer but enhance their apparent value?  Again this is Estate Sales 101.

Professional estate sale specialists understand the value of merchandising and setting up displays.  When you properly display the merchandise, people see the merchandise as being more valuable and they raise their expectations about the value.  That means they are likely to expect to pay more for the item.  That is why department stores do it.  That is why the little corner mom and pop shops do it.  That is why anyone who has a clue about holding estate sales does it.  When you display items like you would in a garage sale - in other words, just toss them on a card table, you are not likely to get good value. 

This very nice estate sale was set up like a garage sale and guess what?  It got garage sale prices.  She seemed thrilled that the sale brought $17,000. 

I really think that Cari means well and tries hard, but the show does not give a good indication that she knows more than the basics of the business.  On the HGTV website, it says that she has 10 years of experience.  In ten years some people add to their knowledge each year and others add ten years of doing the same thing they did the first year.  I see very little that looks like someone who has ten years of experience in handling estate sales.

I love HGTV and have for many years.  I am usually impressed with the quality of their shows.  In most ways, they provide quality programming.  To me this show does not live up that quality.  I will say again that Cari is probably a very nice person and is likely working hard to do a good job.  Unfortunately she just seems to have missed many of the things that make sales a bigger success.  Has she not been to estate sales that are being held by professionals?  I certainly don't blame her for taking the opportunity that was offered to her by HGTV.  She chose the spotlight and now is attracting the criticism from the people in her industry who are experienced and see the things she is yet to learn.  The blame for all this is on HGTV who made this choice and promoted her as if she were an expert who is respected in her field rather than find someone who really does an outstanding job.  Looks like HGTV took cute and personable over experienced and respected.

Perhaps in her area, this is the way estate sales are conducted.  Maybe she is absolutely the best in that part of the country.  I believe she works hard for her clients and she definitely seems to take a personal interest in the proceedings.  But overall, I believe she needs to spend more time checking on how professional estate sale managers operate.  She could greatly improve the quality of her sales and in doing so generate a much better return for her clients.

Comments on her page on the HGTV website and changes in the program would lead me to believe that she and HGTV are listening somewhat to some of the criticism of the show.  That is a good thing.  If you search the Internet, you will find plenty of criticism.  Some of it valid and helpful; some of it vile and nothing short of ignorant.  Criticism can make you better.  You don't learn much in a vacuum. 

I may talk about some of the criticisms in another post later, especially the ones that are unfair.  They should be addressed and she really may not have the platform to do so.  Those posts negatively affect the industry as well and should be be ignored completely. 

With all this would I recommend Cari's services to anyone in her area who happened to read this review of her show?  Absolutely.  My impression from her show is that she works hard, has her client's interest at heart, and is honest.  Those are three primary qualities that are sometimes hard to find.  I always suggest checking out others who offers the same services in the area, but I would not hesitate in suggesting that she be the first one you call.  Her following has probably greatly increased due to her show on HGTV and that is a very good thing.  She also appears to be very sharp and I am sure she is dedicated to improving her business to provide the very best service possible.

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Owner of Estate Sales by Vivian.  Founder of Antique Mall of Lumberton and Antiques of Beaumont in the Parkdale Mall. Member of Certified Appraisers Guild of America. Co-owner of Appraisals of Southeast Texas and Antique Trails of Texas. She has personally managed over 400 estate sales. Vivian has trained other successful Estate Sale Specialists and occasionally provides training services for qualified individuals.
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  • Vivian Duplant
    Vivian Duplant Thursday, 28 July 2011

    I like the show. She seems sweet. I would go to her sales. Her prices are so low.

  • Guest
    Jazzy Tuesday, 18 December 2012

    Hi, her prices are actually high...........been to her sales with and without the show being filmed. She charges antique store store prices at an estate sale......we aren't going pay those prices, we go back day 2 or 3 and snap it up for a value. Unless you really have to have it, you won't pay "Antique Store" retail at an estate sale. Sorry, we've figured out the estate sale business..........wait and get it cheap! You estate sale companies know this too.

  • Vivian Duplant
    Vivian Duplant Saturday, 22 December 2012

    Thanks for your comments, Jazzy. I am not sure that her prices are high, but then we only see a few of the prices when someone starts to bargain with her. Then she shows that she will quickly drop the price to make a deal. In one of the latter episodes last year, she dropped the price on one item by about 30% just minutes after the sale opened. She didn't even give it a chance to sell at a good price. Again, this is another sign of her not understanding some very basic aspects of pricing and bargaining in this environment.

  • Vivian Duplant
    Vivian Duplant Saturday, 30 July 2011

    Cari Cucksey Estate Sales

    Hi, Linda. I really don't have anything personally against Cari. She does seem sweet. And I am sure when HGTV offered her a show, she did what any normal person would have done - she jumped on it. Good for her. My problem with it is that she really does not appear very knowledgeable about estate sales. The fact that she has a television program gives the impression to viewers that she is an authority (or she wouldn't be on TV). That means that whatever she does is taken by much of the public as how estate sale managers really operate, this is what they do, this is what they know, etc. Unfortunately, she really does not appear to be very knowledgeable about any part of the business and sometimes gives a very bad impression of the industry. It appears that HGTV has backed off a little in their glowing descriptions of her abilities, particularly as an appraiser, but I believe they still are losing a little credibility over their airing of this show. I think it is entertaining; I think Cari is very personable, honest, and is trying to do a good job; I just think the show does not come close to properly representing a professional estate sale service and often makes the profession look both foolish and not trustworthy (particularly buying from the estate prior to the sale).

  • Guest
    Electa Thursday, 11 August 2011

    JEALOUSY is a devil!

  • Vivian Duplant
    Vivian Duplant Thursday, 11 August 2011

    Thanks for the comment, Electa.

    I will be the first to admit that I am a little envious of Cari for having a TV show. That must bring in a lot of income plus it must be a lot of fun. But "jealous" is not the word.

    I am proud of the work I do and am proud of how hard I work to do the very best I can as a professional. I am proud of being a certified appraiser and not just someone who plays one on TV. I am proud of the way that I have taken care of both my clients and my customers. I am proud of how I base my business on integrity and professionalism in everything I do. I am proud of the fact that I have learned to provide the very best estate sale possible for my client so I can get them the very best return possible, which is what I am hired to do. That is the type of business I have and I have worked hard to create it. And I continue to work and learn so I can improve with every sale.

    I certainly don't blame Cari for jumping up when offered a show on HGTV, but nothing about her business is anything that I would be jealous of in any way. I am sure she does the best she knows how. I believe she still has a lot to learn. That is not just my opinion. It is apparently shared by many others in this field. Read the many, many comments on the internet from other professionals who are not near as kind with their comments as I am. Many of the same things that I find lacking in the services she provides are topics of conversation on website after website and have been the discussed over and over again with a great deal of disdain.

    Is there jealousy on those people's part? I don't know. I can only speak for myself.

    No doubt I am envious in a small way of the opportunity that she was fortunate enough to get from HGTV, but there is absolutely nothing about her or her business that raises the slightest bit of jealousy.

    I wouldn't trade my estate sale company for hers, HGTV or not, for anything in the world. In fact, if she were to be a fly on the wall at one of my estate sales and saw the excitement all about, she & HGTV might very well be jealous of me!

    Reply Cancel
  • Vivian Duplant
    Vivian Duplant Thursday, 11 August 2011
  • Guest
    Sherry Rae Sunday, 14 August 2011

    I watch all of the Cash and Cari shows. I also go to almost all of the Estate Sales by Vivian. If anyone has a reason to be jealous it is Cash and Cari. Vivian's sales are setup like a department store. Her sales are fun. She has rules that she follows that Cash and Cari should be doing too. If there is a leader in estate sales that others should copy it would not be Cash and Cari, it would be Estate Sales by Vivian.

  • Vivian Duplant
    Vivian Duplant Sunday, 14 August 2011

    Thanks, Sherry. I am glad you enjoy my sales. We have some great ones coming up. See you at a sale soon.

  • Guest
    Melissa Thursday, 18 August 2011

    I have watched two or three episodes and agree with everything you have said in both this blog and the other you wrote about the show. In one of the episodes I watched, I added up the number of employees she used, the number of work days and sale days and then calculating the amount that the sale brought in and only paying the employees minimum wage, she couldn't have taken home more than $500 that month. Either HGTV's pay is making up for her lost wages or she is making a killing in her store. Either way, it does not reflect the real world of estate sales which should be efficiently run as a business. I, too, love HGTV, but this show is not a good representation of our business. You look very familiar in your website photo, so I'm wondering if we have met at one of my estate sales. I will try to stop by at your next Austin sale and introduce myself!

    Reply Cancel
  • Vivian Duplant
    Vivian Duplant Wednesday, 24 August 2011

    Hi, Melissa. Thanks for the comments. So many things about the Cash & Cari show do not give the real picture of estate sales. I think you are so right about the income. No way the numbers work out.

    I am sorry we didn't get a chance to visit at my sale this weekend. We had a lot of fun.

    We are in Austin quite often and I look forward to meeting you.

    Have fun, Vivian

  • Vivian Duplant
    Vivian Duplant Sunday, 09 October 2011


    Okay, one more comment. One thing that really bothers me about the show is the name of her shop, the RePurpose Shop and the way they keep using the term "repurpose".

    When you take an old table, sand it down, paint it, and put some new features on it, but still use it as a table, it has not be "repurposed". It is still a table.

  • Guest
    Vanessa Friday, 20 January 2012

    Michael....very good point!

  • Guest
    vicki c Wednesday, 01 February 2012

    i love the show too, but why does she paint everything yellow?

  • Guest
    Letitia Wednesday, 14 March 2012

    Vivian, I have just recently begun to watch Cash & Cari. Initially I thought, well maybe my opinion about somethings (namely the set up of the estate sale) was a bit much because I am not in the "business"; however, having read your review, I am now of the opinion I was not of base at all. I am always amazed at her being overly excited about what I would consider a low ball sale or the fact that she doesn't encourage more cosignment sales for some of the better antique pieces...

  • Vivian Duplant
    Vivian Duplant Wednesday, 28 March 2012

    It is a shame that so many people have been given the impression that estate sales are handled the way that Cash & Cari does. Professional services offer much more than she even begins to understand.

    Thanks for your comment.

  • Guest
    Mary Saturday, 26 May 2012

    Looks like HGTV isn't fond of criticism.


  • Guest
    pete riley Wednesday, 18 July 2012

    couldn't agree with all of you more!

  • Guest
    Jamie Wednesday, 21 November 2012

    Why is it that everyone has sooooo much time to say something negative or mean about someone or put them down in some way, but it is so hard to find someone to hold a door open for a stranger or give a compliment?? Do people really feel better being a Negative Nelly rather than doing or saying anything positive? So you don't agree with what ONE person does in their job because you do the same thing and feel you are better than them. Who cares. I'm only sad that I stumbled upon this site and wasted time reading negative comments because lets face it, the world has enough. If you are so much better than Cari, then be graceful enough not to put her and her career down. Be better than that. We all have opinions and I understand you are stating yours, but with every reply you have it is about a page long and it looks like you just like hearing/seeing yourself speak. Besides, not everything that happens on camera shows on the show. Example, she may have that one sale shown, but it doesn't mean that she doesn't have more going on that actually earns her more money. However, it is nice that everyone is so concerned... I honestly hope you have a better day, but if you really don't like her show, why do you keep wasting your time watching it? Do something else with your time that is more productive and makes your happy. Life is short, live it the way your want to and not waist time doing something that only makes you mad. Or do you just like complaining that she has a show and you don't? Kinda tacky isn't it?

  • Vivian Duplant
    Vivian Duplant Saturday, 22 December 2012

    Hi, Jamie,

    Thank you for your comments.

    You missed the important aspect of the posts and why we were moved to talk about it. Her show and how she operates has a detrimental affect on my industry and my business. That is NOT a minor issue to me.

    We have nothing against Cari Cucksey at all and even point that out in our posts and in some of the comments. As a matter of fact in one post, I even recommended her services to anyone in her area. I said, "She also appears to be very sharp and I am sure she is dedicated to improving her business in attempting to provide the very best service possible".

    When you are in the spotlight, you can expect criticism and sometimes praise. The problem is that when you are on a television show or have a lot of public exposure, how you represent your industry is definitely going to affect others in that industry. If you represent it in a way that others in the industry believe are detrimental to our livelihoods, you can sure expect some feedback about that.

    Adding to the problem is that HGTV refers to Cari Cuckseyas an “estate sale guru Cari Cucksey”. That implies that she not only knows what she is doing, but is an expert. (Guru is a Scanskrit term for master or teacher). This adds to giving the impression of a level of expertise that I believe she is yet to demonstrate, but one which the television viewing public will believe.

    Relatively few people have direct experience with estate sale services, especially those handled by professional estate sale specialists. Most estate sales are not handled by professionals, but rather part-timers who often jump in the business because they have an antique shop. Lots of other people with antique shops think that qualifies them to handle estate sales. Unfortunately, many of them are not only wrong, but they do things that add to negative stereotypes about the industry.

    Her show places Cari is in a unique position of showing how estate sales work, how estate sales are prepared, the amount of hard work & knowledge needed best results and all the other steps necessary to not only make a good sale but to provide the best possible result for the client. Her show could be a great voice for our industry. My primary complaint is that, in my opinion, she does not demonstrate that she has the knowledge to do this and often fails to create sales that provide the best results for the client. In my posts and comments, I have pointed out some of the places where I think she fails. I also believe that some things she does, buying things for herself before the sale in particular, are absolutely wrong and certainly does not add to an impression of integrity.

    One of the most common negative comments we hear about people who provide estate sales is that we buy all the “good stuff“ for ourselves before the sale. It sure makes it harder to convince people that doing that is NOT an accepted practice by professional estate sale providers when she keeps doing it on television.

    Let me add that I realize she is relatively inexperienced, although she has certainly learned a lot since the show began. In my second post about her, I said, "My impression from her show is that she works hard, has her client's interest at heart, and is honest." That is a compliment. I believe she has a lot to learn about how most professionals in the industry work and how high their (our) standards are. I also believe she definitely needs to start with some basic negotiating skills.

    Everyone in the industry, including myself, went through a learning process. None of us just knew exactly what to do. That is a natural progression. With that inexperience, it certainly would have been foolish for us to try to teach others about the industry or appear anywhere as an "expert". Had we done so, we not only would have being doing an injustice to everyone involved, but we would have been rightfully criticized. I honestly believe that I have learned greatly from criticism and feedback that I received when we first began, as any feedback we get to this very day. We are always looking to improve.

    You indicated that you thought our posts were negative and mean. We see our posts are being a positive statement about our industry in response to a television show that often presents our industry in a negative way. While there were negative aspects of the posts, there were positive comments as well. Was it more negative than positive? Absolutely and so are my opinions of the show. If you think our posts were really negative, you should Google "Cash and Cari complaints" and similar terms. The vast majority of the posts you will find rip her to shreds and most of the ones I’ve read are from others in the industry. Actually, I think some of those posts are rather unfair, but I do understand the anger her actions on the show created.

    This is the bottom line. I make the comments because it is my profession that is being affected and, in my opinion, often being misrepresented. I have worked hard to provide the very best service I can for my clients and my customers. Many times in dealing with clients and the public, I have to overcome misconceptions about my industry and about those who work in it. So when someone appears on a television show, is presented as an expert (guru), and in my opinion are doing things that are detrimental to my profession, you can bet I will take issue.

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