Cornerstone Auction Gallery customers are so loyal, they do business with the Fricker family even after they have died.
âWe have customers who have come here for the last forty years, and they still come. We have people who pass away, they are still our customers, if they want to sell their stuff. Weâre even in peopleâs wills,â said Bob Fricker, who, with son, Bob Jr. and grandson Jason, operates the longest continuously run auction company in Rhode Island.
âOne time, we liquidated this motherâs stuff, and their heirs came in like vultures,â said Bob Fricker, Sr. âThe husband and wife (the children) put us in their will. They gave their lawyer the key and their stuff went to public auction. We never recommend that. Weâve never recommended that, to be in their will, but this is what they wanted.â
The three Frickers represent three of four generations in a family who have auctioned off estates and items for more than half a century. âAnd weâve got a 5th and 6th generation coming. Theyâre on the way,â added Bob Fricker, Sr. who was handed the gavel from his father, and is the cornerstone of Cornerstone, working with his wife, son and grandson.
âItâs very personal,â said Jason Fricker. âWe work on a one-on-one basis with clients. Everyone is different.â
âWe really enjoy what we do. Itâs still fun,â added his grandfather.
Their auction house is built on trust and honesty. Why trust amateurs to appraise, handle or sell your precious collectibles, family heirlooms and undiscovered great stuff?
Take for instance, clients â and there are many â who simply do not know what they have or the value of it, especially the elderly.
âWe went to one home and the woman said to me of this one particular closet, âOh, thereâs nothing in there. Just a tea set.â I said, âYouâve hired me to sell your stuff. Iâll be the judge of what is ânothing,â â said Bob Fricker, Sr. âIt was Sterling Silver. She got $2400 for it.
âAnother time, there was a toy car on a knick knack shelf,â he added. âThey got $2600 for that. I could have bought the silver set for $20 or the toy for $30, and they would have been happy. But we have a policy. We donât buy from clients (when dealing with estates), because there are surprises everywhere and we are serving them.â
The Frickers are especially proud of helping groups like the Boy Scouts, churches and the elderly, who might easily be taken advantage of.
âWe give them a program of how to liquidate their (assets),â said Bob. âWe go to Senior Citizen complexes. We donât get anything for doing it, but they are very happy when we leave, because they learn and know how to get rid of their stuff, when they are ready.â
They are in the business to make money, sure, they added, but it is not their first goal. Customer loyalty means a great deal and, âIt is so much fun going out and finding stuff,â said Jason.
âYou see that lamp?,â said his grandfather, pointing to a beautiful table lamp just before their latest auction Feb. 21 at Ivy Garden on Cowesett Avenue in West Warwick. âThe woman who owns it, said, âYou donât want this. Itâs junk!,â I told her, âWeâre taking it. Thatâs why you hired us.â Well, that âjunkâ sold for $700. When she got her check three weeks later, she said, âBob, I canât believe how much I got. Is this real?â We know what weâve got.â
He pointed to another lamp. âYou see that one? She said, âItâs junk and itâs broken.â I changed the socket. It cost me $3 and an hourâs work. Sheâs going to get a check for that lamp for $300 and sheâs going to die again. They canât believe what this stuff is worth.â
The Frickers sell in a live, open market competition that helps objects achieve their true, fair market value. Typically, they sell on consignment (retaining a percentage of the selling price), but occasionally they buy outright. Cornerstone has the capability to move an entire estate to the auction block.
During the auctions, absentee and phone bids are accepted from those who cannot attend.
Sales are conducted monthly year round, on the third Monday of the month, somewhere throughout Rhode Island.
âI love the work so much,â said Bob Fricker, Sr. âI am not going to hang up my hat any time soon.â
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