25 Years Of The Magnusson Group!

How the time flies!

Back in the 1980s and ‘90s the Magnusson Family owned Rascals Comedy Club & Restaurant in West Orange and Ocean Township.  The West Orange location was quite successful, but the southern Rascals needed a little extra something to push it into the black.

Enter The White Elephant Bar and Grill, born out of the idea to add a revenue stream by selling the “stuff” we decorated the place with.  Unlike your neighborhood Cracker Barrel or Applebee’s, everything was for sale.

The “stuff” included things like LPs, posters, lunchboxes, seltzer bottles, toys, advertising and pop memorabilia. Customers loved the restaurant’s funky vibe and bought everything we brought in.

Replacing inventory became a full-time job. Drew, his brother John, and I were scouring garage sales and flea markets for product.  By the time our daughter, Lauren, was in kindergarten, we were spending our Friday nights at the Old Feed Mill Auction in Boonton.  Drew occasionally auctioneered while Lauren and I helped show and carry lots to their buyers.  We were learning how to identify and buy cool “stuff” and having a blast!

Magnusson Group 25 years

As The White Elephant prospered, we became busy pickers-for-profit buying more than we could possibly sell.  We started to help people liquidate their estates and filled the huge garage at Rascals West Orange with our purchases. We would open the garage and sell the “stuff” on Saturdays. Our connoisseurship skills blossomed as we studied books and auction catalogs about antiques and art.  The internet was in its infancy and not useful for research…yet.  It was at this time we discovered that Drew possessed a near-photographic memory.  What an asset!

By the end of 1994, we had incorporated our newly minted firm as Personal Property Consultants, making a business helping others buy and sell art, antiques, collectibles and home contents.  Shortly thereafter, I decided to pursue professional appraisal accreditation by joining the American Society of Appraisers.

We opened a small gallery in Dover and then, an office in Parsippany. We hired Leslie, then Laura, then another Laura. Drew jumped into eBay as soon as that marketplace opened.  We hired Drew’s brothers Eric, then Lianna, then Lorraine.  John stayed on with us as our operation grew.

ASA Logo

Around the turn of the century, I had earned my accreditation in Antiques and Decorative Art, after completing the required hundreds of hours of fieldwork, classwork, and testing. Twenty years on, there are still fewer than 200 Senior ASA accredited appraisers in this category nationwide.  Certification by the equally prestigious Appraisal Association of America followed soon after.  We found ourselves deep in the “art world.” We were aided by our associations with friends at Sotheby’s, Christie’s, Heritage, Bonham’s, and many New York City galleries, museums and shows.  We also developed relationships with local and regional auction venues to best assist our NJ clients de-access their personal property.

In 2008, we moved to a larger location in Harding Township, hired more help, and opened an “accidental gallery” of interesting artwork and objets d’art. Lauren brought our estate sales business back-to-life after she graduated from college in 2013.   

Looking back the humble origins of our family business, The White Elephant is but a memory and our days as seasoned restauranteurs are long behind us. I think I can say, now, that we are seasoned Personal Property Consultants.

Over the past 25 years, we’ve had the privilege of working for some the most interesting and kind clients. Our clients typically require our services at the most challenging times in their lives, like dealing with the death of a loved one, divorce, major property loss or damage, downsizing, transitions to assisted living. Our full-service multi-faceted firm has always been geared to help our clients through such difficult times.

From Appraisals to Estate Sales and Brokerages to Buyouts, we have aspired to understand the needs of our clients and their collections since day one.

Have we helped you as clients? Do you love our estate sales? Whoever you are, help us celebrate this milestone!

Leave a comment below and let us know about your experiences with The Magnusson Group.

Co-authored by: Lynn Magnusson, ASA, AAA , and Kollin Handler, Communications Director

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