Walking into his showroom at 248-51 Jamaica Ave. in Bellerose is an experience. The room is filled to the brim with stuff one might have found in his grandmother's home.
Customers make their way around the store through a sliver of an aisle that meanders between the old photos, letters, silverware, African art, jewelry, tables and antique armoires, which are piled high along the walls. Not an inch of space is wasted.
"I started the place in 1981 as an auction house for high-end jewelry and coins," said Schochet, a 45-year-old Long Island resident who grew up in Bayside. "Then somebody came in with 100 Hummels - small figurines.
"I buy everything," he said, "from clocks to furniture to cars - everything."
The Rolls was originally owned by Mr. Gillette of Gillette razor fame and cost $29,500 when it was built. Schochet's father bought the car 35 years ago and since then it has been seen in the movie "The Cotton Club" and Jack Lemon drove it in "April Fools."
Schochet accumulates the majority of his merchandise from estate sales or antique stores that are going out of business. He said families contact him after a relative's death and he gives them an appraisal on the estate.
"I offer them two options: I can auction the estate and get X amount of dollars or I can buy it outright for a lower price," he said.
He said when he gives appraisals, he usually finds things people had no idea were valuable. Nine out of every 10 appraisals pay for themselves because most people have a rug or painting that has hidden value, Schochet said.
"People lose a lot of money on things because they do not know the value," he said.
His stores are full of so much stuff there are boxes and crates in his showroom and warehouse that he has not even gone through.
"I probably have as much here as an entire flea market," he said. "This is an 18th century table, here are old musical instruments. I even have an old Superman comic book for $4,400."
Schochet prices the antiques he sells based on what he paid for them - not on their ultimate value.
"If I buy a clock for $200 that is worth $1,000, I'll sell it at $400," he said. "Price is based on supply and demand. It is very hard to price things. I gave a painting to Sotheby's and they estimated it between $8,000 and $10,000 and it sold for $35,000."
Antiques are not items that go out of style, he said. A particular item might no longer be in vogue, but over time it will come back into fashion. He never rushes to get items out of the store because a painting that people would not pay $5 for in 1990 could go for $300 a few years later.
Over the past three years, Schochet said his business has changed a bit with the advent of the Internet. He said he now puts up about 100 items a month onto the online auction site E-bay.
"The Internet allows me to sell stuff lying around in my store for years at very good prices," Schochet said. "I've sold stuff to Australia and a Beetles album to London."
For those interested in buying the Rolls, you might also want to pick up the two 8-foot, 6,500-pound hand-carved black marble Chinese warriors, which were originally used as temple guards to keep the thieves away from your new wheels.
"I had four of them and sold two for $25,000 each," he said. "I am looking to sell the last two for $20,000."
To contact the Grand Auction Mart call 343-8951 or 516-328-8923.
©2000 Community News Group
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