One man’s trash is another man’s treasure are words to live by for Cari Cucksey. “There are buyers for everything,” she says.
Cucksey, 35, has parlayed that adage into a Northville business and, now, a television show: Cash & Cari, which premiered on HGTV in January. When she’s not in front of the camera, she’s minding her store, RePurpose, and her business, RePurpose Estate Services. — Aleene Jinn George
How did the HGTV series come about?
I was contacted in January . It’s the same production company that does American Pickers; they were out scouting and contacted me. I actually thought they were looking for props, since I’ve done a lot of stuff with the movie industry [Little Murders, Red Dawn, and Scream 4]. [The film crew] came here, shot a casting video for 12 hours, zipped that down to four minutes, and sold it to the network.
Has season two been filmed?
They signed us up for season two, just looking at one episode [26 episodes are done].
How was filming?
Twelve-hour days, sometimes 14 hours. Then I opened the store in September; it was brutal and not glamorous, but it was a lot of fun. Being in this business, you always have to be on your toes. Being filmed was like wearing toe shoes.
What’s the best treasure you’ve found?
I collect [nouveau [Art Nouveau] jewelry, and this woman was selling off her parents’ treasures. She was letting some things go, she had this whole boxful of nouveau jewelry.
At estate sales, do you ever feel guilty buying something that the seller might not know is a gem?
I am believer in karma — what you give, you get. I always want to be fair. I feel like it’s super important to help people out. There have been many times when [I’ve said], ‘You know, this is a family heirloom, you should not let this go’.
What has been your most profitable find?
There’s actually something in the store that has been my latest. It’s a dower chest, and I bought it out of gut instinct. I bought it for $750, and I had a YouTube video of it and sent it to an auction house out East. I found out it was worth $10,000 to $12,000.
What’s your system?
I’ve been doing this for a while, [so I get] a lot of referrals from Realtors and attorneys. Consignment is big right now; everyone is looking to make money in this economy. We sell everything from antiques to underwear.
How did you get into this line of work?
I’ve been around it my whole life — my parents, my grandparents, and their grandparents. I just learned by experience.
What is your home like?
Everything is secondhand, except for the linens and the mattresses.
What’s in store for the future?
One of my main missions is to really get the younger crowd into antiques. It’s just not for old, stuffy people going to flea markets and auctions. Everything has a story. We live in such a throwaway society; we need to learn to appreciate things more. There’s a reason we learn from our elders, and people who have gone through the Depression, and why they hold onto everything. There’s a story there. There is history behind every piece.