Monday, December 18, 2017
Business

Auctioneer is selling Patty and Friends Antique Mall

ST. PETERSBURG

As the auction business heats up in part because of an influx of consignors who have learned to be pickers from reality TV, Blake Kennedy is selling the 33-year-old Patty and Friends Antique Mall to focus more on Kennedy Brothers Auctions.

The auction company is expanding, in fact. Kennedy's brother, Brett, recently bought 55-year-old Picture Framing by Volpe, which was a mainstay on Central Avenue for decades.

"It lends itself to the estate business and the art we sell though our auction business," Brett Kennedy said. "We wanted to add another element to what we already do."

Kennedy Framing, behind the Kennedy Brothers auction house at 5510 Haines Road N, is open to the public as well.

Inventory from estates and consignors is so high these days that there are two auctions there each month with Blake Kennedy as the fast-selling and humorous auctioneer. He has played that role at commercial auctions and charity events across the country for 16 years but started holding his own auctions only three years ago.

"It's kind of where my passion is and it has been for a long time," Blake Kennedy said. "I think the antique business is a great business and I'm not leaving it. I'm leaving that retail end of it. It was a hard decision to say I'm going to put Patty and Friends up for sale. But I have four kids. I work seven days a week, and they're growing up fast."

When the 46-year-old twins' mother, Patty McBane, opened the business at 1241 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N in 1980, it was a cutting-edge concept to put multiple antique dealers under one roof. She had seen a so-called antique mall in Nashville and decided to try it in Florida.

Shortly after opening, she explained the unheard-of concept in a Times article. Twenty-seven dealers paid her rent on their space in the store, but they didn't need to be there because she handled the sales, along with taxes, insurance and advertising.

The novel idea stuck.

Today an average of 70 dealers populate Patty and Friends on month-to-month contracts. They own the merchandise, so it's not included in the Kennedys' sale. The two buildings totaling 5,200 square feet have an asking price of $485,000.

"My heart is to try to find somebody who wants to maintain it as an antique mall," said Blake Kennedy, who took the business over from his mom 16 years ago. "The advantage of Patty and Friends is the first day someone buys it they are making money by getting rent and 10 percent of all sales."

He says the store has maintained steady sales, even during the recession, but the antique market in general has taken some hits from the proliferation of online auction sites like eBay.

"Once-scarce items now flood the online auction sites, tipping the scales of supply and demand and diluting values," Kiplinger's, the personal finance publication, reported last year. "Throw in the impact of the economic downturn — during which some folks desperately scoured their attics and basements in search of anything to sell that could help them pay their bills — and the result is a perfect storm: a decline in prices for most collectibles and antiques."

Some things do sell better at an auction than in a retail setting, Kennedy said. A piece of furniture, for example, may go for more at a store; collectibles or rarer items are the stuff of bidding wars.

Among the higher-priced items he recently auctioned were a French porcelain doll that went for $3,000 and a set of iron gates from a house on Park Street for $2,400. Other hot items are midcentury furniture. (Yes, this is an exception to his statement about furniture selling better in a store.)

"Midcentury is hot, hot, hot. That was the stuff we used to kick to the side 10 years ago," Kennedy said. "Now it's the Victorian stuff we can't give away. I still like Victorian, but the decorators are the ones who set the market. They like midcentury."

His auctions average 250 to 300 items, or lots. Between 100 and 180 people come see and buy as about 100 items an hour go to the highest bidder.

At a special New Year's auction, Kennedy called items for seven hours straight.

"It's a marathon and I am exhausted at the end, but that's what I get paid to do," he said.

The auctioneers keep 25 percent of the sale price of items brought in from consignors. The percentage from estates varies based on their size and value.

The hardest part of his job, Kennedy said, is telling someone that a beloved item or house full of furniture isn't going to bring the hoped-for price.

Kennedy is also a certified master appraiser, which means he has reached the level of training that he can testify in court cases as an expert witness. He expected he'd be called in for a lot of probate cases but said he has testified more for divorces as couples are making sure they are getting a fair share of assets.

Whether it's a divorce, auction or yard sale, he offers strong advice.

"I always say you should never sell something unless you know exactly what it is," he said. "I'm a big fan of saying if you don't like the price you can get, keep it. Give it to your relatives, give it to your kids.

Times researcher Natalie Watson contributed to this report. Katherine Snow Smith can be reached at (727) 893-8785 or [email protected]

   
Comments
Tampa flights affected as Atlanta airport outage creates holiday chaos

Tampa flights affected as Atlanta airport outage creates holiday chaos

ATLANTA — While power has been restored to the world’s busiest airport, the travel woes will linger for days. Thousands of people were stranded Monday morning at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, where more than 1,000 flights were gro...
Updated: 28 minutes ago

Bitcoin futures begin trading on CME, price little changed

NEW YORK — Another security based on the price of bitcoin, the digital currency that has soared in value and volatility this year, began trading on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on Sunday. The CME Group, which owns the exchange, opened up bitcoin f...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Fueled by indulgence and machismo, restaurants are a hotbed for sexual harassment

Fueled by indulgence and machismo, restaurants are a hotbed for sexual harassment

When Brenda Terry was 16 and living in St. Louis, she was a host and food runner at a sports bar where female employees wore cute little cheerleading skirts. One night, she said, a patron grabbed her crotch. She ran to her management team and they de...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Taxpayer subsidies of Tampa golf courses are on the rise as struggles continue

Taxpayer subsidies of Tampa golf courses are on the rise as struggles continue

TAMPA — For the half of the year that Harry Nichols lives in Oldsmar, he plays 18 holes several times a month at Rocky Point Golf Course. On a good day, Nichols said he shoots close to par on the Dana Shores course. And if he’s really lucky, it’ll on...
Published: 12/15/17
Updated: 12/16/17
Pigs can be therapy animals too. So can horses and rats and cats and llamas and … (w/video)

Pigs can be therapy animals too. So can horses and rats and cats and llamas and … (w/video)

Shrieks of laughter echoed off the walls of the hospital as Thunder the mini pig flopped onto his side and the children huddled around him, scratching his pink, hairy belly. He and his wet-nosed partner, Bolt, drew patients in wheelchairs and bandage...
Published: 12/15/17
Vology landlord challenges property tax assessment

Vology landlord challenges property tax assessment

LARGO — Eight months after paying $10.15 million for the office building that houses IT services company Vology, a New York company is suing the Pinellas County Property Appraiser and Florida Department of Revenue contending its $5.5 million tax asse...
Published: 12/15/17
Florida’s $1.1 billion Hardest Hit Fund winding down after some hard knocks

Florida’s $1.1 billion Hardest Hit Fund winding down after some hard knocks

In 2010, Florida was in the throes of an unprecedented housing crisis. One in every eight homes was in some stage of foreclosure. Today, the foreclosure rate is one in every 83. Because of that enormous drop, Florida’s Hardest Hit Fund will s...
Published: 12/15/17
Report: Rich will get still richer unless policies change

Report: Rich will get still richer unless policies change

By ELAINE KURTENBACHTOKYO — Global inequality has stabilized at high levels in recent years, a report said Friday, despite gains among the poor in China and much milder disparities in incomes and wealth in Western Europe. The World Inequality Report ...
Published: 12/15/17
How the Disney/Fox deal will shake up Hollywood

How the Disney/Fox deal will shake up Hollywood

Associated Press NEW YORK — After years of tremors, the earthquake that had long been predicted finally shook Hollywood. Disney’s deal to purchase most of 21st Century Fox ends the era of the "Big Six" major movie studios, toppling one ...
Published: 12/15/17
St. Petersburg’s Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement set to be complete in 2019

St. Petersburg’s Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement set to be complete in 2019

ST. PETERSBURG — The Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement, under construction since 2015, is scheduled to be complete by the summer of 2019.The five-story, 137,100-square-foot building will house businessman and collector Rudy Ciccarello’s...
Published: 12/15/17