From Hobby to Franchise Biz: How One Family Sees Growth with Managing Estate Sales

Handling the sales of estate assets after the passing of a loved one or of a family trying to downsize isn’t easy, and sometimes help from an outside company might be necessary.

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In this Salute to American Success, we’re taking a look at Blue Moon Estate Sales. Debra Blue, who started her career in the field of medicine, and her husband Ken founded the company in 2009. Despite the industry typically being comprised of local “mom and pop” businesses, the Blue family decided to start franchising.

After selling antiques as a side-hobby for years, Debra and her husband decided it was time to take it to the next level, realizing there was a market for estate sales.

“We found a huge need because there weren’t any other estate sale franchises with the same business model,” Blue said.

A common misnomer, according to Blue, is the area where most sales come from.

“About 20% [of the business] comes from death, 80% from baby boomers and a little bit from young people moving,” she said.

Though, in principle, an estate sale is similar to an auction or garage sale, the actual process is a bit different.

“An auction is bidding competitively,” Blue said. “We start our sales at eight o’clock on Saturday morning. We have a number system to let people into the house. They gather up what items they want to purchase. We pay out to our clients within five days.”

Continuing to grow and priding itself on business ethics, Blue Moon Estate Sales will add to its existing franchises and have 18 territories with 16 owners. Looking forward, Blue expects to see 10 new territories this year. The long-term plan for the business is to have about 200 locations by 2020.

As an entrepreneur who started her career in a different field, one piece of advice Blue has for people looking to change their occupations is to “trust your gut.”

“Know about yourself… what you really do well and hire people who are good and know what you don’t know,” she said. “You have to continually look ahead. Those baby steps turn into giant strides before you know it.”