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For Estate Salesman, Furniture Never Dies

By Benjamin Woodard | November 2, 2012 5:38pm

EDGEWATER — Ray Williams' yard in Edgewater is littered with junk.

Old chairs. Dented metal chests. Paintings of big-game aafari animals — such as giraffes and zebras.

But to Williams, and to hundreds of happy customers, the cluttered back yard is an antique furniture gold mine.

"Certain furniture has a soul," said Williams, who scavenges estate sales throughout the city and some suburbs depending on the type of load he expects to haul out. "Somebody had fun at this table. Someone listened to records on that player."

Williams said the furniture and other knickknacks, such as a box of old dolls, lives on through the new owners after he rescues them from the dump.

When describing the furniture he sells, he sounds more like a philosopher, like a René Descartes of selling furniture that once belonged to the dead.

"I'm not in love with this stuff," he said.

But he respects all of it and wants to give it a second life.

"People dying, man," Williams said. "It's not happy."

He said he started his estate business, Vintique Discoveries, five years ago after losing interest in the refrigerator repair business.

He started small, picking up a few old pieces and selling them on Craigslist for an extra buck or two, but now he goes to estates with a truck and takes everything left over after the high-end dealers get first pick.

He's actually paid — as much as $300 — to take the stuff off the property owner's hands. But he's got to take all of it.

"You got to have the whole place cleared out. Like this table," he said, pointing to a wrought iron glass table with grape-vine ornaments on the legs. "It's a nice table, but just to get that one table you got to throw away a whole load of stuff."

Williams is selling the table and five matching pink leather chairs for $120.

While most sales are made online through his website or through Craigslist, Williams opens his third-floor apartment and back yard to the public when he's overstocked.

He'll be selling through Nov. 4 at 6326 N. Clark St.