Tag Along Estate Sales co-owners Annemarie Gordon and Hesta Fortgang
BY JANICE LLANES FABRY
Pullquote: “An estate sale is as much a social event as it is a business.”
Hesta Fortgang and Annmarie Gordon’s 45-year-long friendship has endured the test of time. For almost as long, their Tag Along Estate Sales has provided countless homeowners throughout Westchester and Connecticut with estate liquidation services and loyal customers far and wide with beloved treasures.
When Fortgang and Gordon met at their children’s nursery school in Harrison, they discovered they had more than two children each in common.
“We loved going antiquing right after dropping the kids off at school,” said Fortgang.
“It was a different time. In those days, before the internet, there were actual antique stores and it was so much fun,” added Gordon.
The young mothers took their hobby to a whole other level when they enrolled in a master’s program in Appraisal Studies at Yeshiva University in New York City. Once they became licensed appraisers, they took on their first client, who taught them a hard lesson they’d not soon forget.
“We were hired by an attorney and presented him with a thorough, excellent appraisal. When he never paid us, we decided to go into a business where we had control,” explained Fortgang about the birth of Tag Along Estate Sales.
Known in the 1970s as simply Tag Sales, Gordon and Fortgang started off by holding garage sales. No job was too big or too small. Early on, with enormous chutzpah and a rented truck, they left their children with their husbands and drove to Pittsburgh to pick up the contents of an estate. They sold every last item in New York. They also fondly remember going out on a limb and taking their expertise to New York City apartments.
“We used to disguise the sales as ‘parties’ because tag sales were prohibited in the buildings,” laughed the friends.
A good eye and solid judgment earned them an impeccable reputation. By 1980, Tag Along had become a tremendous success, leading to a 35-year-heyday. Most of their 20 employees have been with them for decades. Never resting on their laurels, Fortgang and Gordon pursued their education further at Cooper Hewitt, taking courses on furniture and rug weaving.
Estate owners trusted their expertise and shoppers relied on their fabulous offerings of furniture, rugs, artwork, china, bric-a-brac, jewelry, outdoor furnishings, statuary, lawn equipment, vehicles, boats, and more.
“That was also a time when a passion for collectibles was so hot,” noted Fortgang, a former schoolteacher and an avid collector of Old-World cookie jars and salt boxes. Gordon, a former ceramics engineer at Rosenthal Porcelain in Germany, acquired European porcelain, along with signed first editions.
Today’s shopper doesn’t have the same fervor for “grandma’s” paraphernalia. Buying Hummels, those sweet porcelain figurines that were once all the rage, on eBay diminishes their appeal.
“Everything’s available on the Internet. Young people gravitate towards technology and an easier life,” remarked Gordon. “They don’t have time to polish furniture, dust figurines, or iron linens. No more afternoon tea parties with porcelain and doilies. It’s all glass and chrome.”
Admittedly, the market has changed, but Tag Along Estate Sales has a loyal clientele. The discerning shopper still seeks out designer furniture, fine art from the 17th through the 20th century, vintage clothing, and costume jewelry. A buyer staging a 1970s movie set, for example, will typically select clothing from that period, along with rotary phones and typewriters. In addition, there’s a market for old vinyl records, turntables, and speakers.
Online shopping notwithstanding, people like to see and touch the merchandise. Besides, the voyeur in everyone delights in getting a glimpse of grand homes. In addition, as Gordon said, “An estate sale is as much a social event as it is a business.”
It takes three days for the Tag Along ladies to prepare a home for a sale, and they have it down to a science. Fortgang prices each-and-every item, after which Gordon arranges furniture and merchandise.
The final step is staging the house, according to 9 On Main. After all these years, they’ve both become quite the interior designers.
“I always find a focal point, whether a work of art or a settee,” said Gordon.
“Once Annmarie sets up a dining room, it looks superb. No one arranges china and glassware the way she does,” noted Fortgang.
What about the old adage about never going into business with a friend?
“We fight like hell sometimes,” admitted Fortgang. “But at the end of the day, the job gets done and we go out for dinner.”
Gordon added, “I love Hesta’s honesty. She holds nothing back. We’re opposites, but we’re the best of friends.”
|Upcoming Tag Along Estate Sales: 28 Pleasant Ridge Road in Harrison, Friday and Saturday, November 5 and 6 from 10-4; 3 Meadow Lane in Purchase, Friday and Saturday November 19 and 20 from 10-4. For more information, call Hesta Fortgang at 261-0095 and Annemarie Gordon at 772-0166.|