HGTV’s Cash & Cari

When I first heard about HGTV’s Cash and Cari, I got a little excited thinking this show might focus more on decorative collectibles, plus offer a splash of do-it-yourself (DIY) home decor creativity. While the show has all that potential, I really was disappointed.

Cash and Cari (Cari is not pronounced like “carry,” but like “car” with an “e” on the end, so it’s not quite the pun your eyes expect) follows the work of “estate sale guru” Cari Cucksey of Michigan’s RePurpose Estate Services.

If you like watching how to set up an estate or rummage sale, then maybe you’ll like this. However, for me, the show lost points when it dropped a standard part of the collectible shows format: the visit with the expert or in depth look at a few items. I realize this part of the show’s time was given to the DIY component — and that was something I was looking forward to; but in this particular episode this segment infuriated me.

In this debut episode, Cari purchases an older used bench for $40 and has a staff member give it “an impressive makeover.” The makeover consisted of repainting the bench, removing the older upholstered seat, and replacing it with new fabric — sewing a decorative throw pillow to match. However, the new “upholstery” job was terrible.

The fabric was staple-gunned in place and the staples hidden from view by hot-glue-gunning some sort of open-weave rick-rack lace over it. Use of a glue gun on the seat of a bench in place is anything but quality. (The dried glue will be lumpy, visible, and likely to peel away if the object has any use whatsoever ; it’s not appropriate for furniture or seating or anything besides the purely decorative.) Anything but quality and certainly not worth, in my opinion, the $300 they proposed to sell it for. Normally I don’t like to argue the price someone gets for something; different location alone can create marked price differentials. But this bench was really a shoddy DIY job and not fit for an audience of antiques and vintage collectibles fans.

Collectors of antiques are looking for quality.

Plus, the item was to be sold at “the shop,” and it kind of makes you wonder how the bench will be presented there… As an antique or vintage piece, or as a quickly made home decor piece? It’s the sort of thing an experienced collector wouldn’t be fooled by, but it’s also the sort of thing, like reproductions offered for sale, that most collectors want to know are properly represented so that no one feels tricked. No mention of this — after such a cheap makeover, weakens Cari’s credibility.

Yes, I watch a lott of the collectibles shows, and I did consider how potential “burn out” might be coloring my thoughts about Cash and Cari; but I don’t think that’s it (see my post about Oddities).

Where Cash and Cari suffers is a lack of focus on what makes the other shows great (personalities and drama of “cast,” information segments, &/or presentation of values of items) and a complete fumbling of the potentially fabulous DIY segment.

In trying to be kind, I wished HGTV had, as many of the other networks have, given us more than one episode to watch so that I could see if another episode could make me a fan… But then I realized HGTV thought this episode was strong enough to be the series lean-in and if that was their best foot forward, I don’t think I’ll watch another episode.

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Deanna is the founder of Inherited Values, among other sites. She is also an antique dealer.

35 thoughts on “HGTV’s Cash & Cari”

  1. I watched the first show, since I’ll give any show about collecting a chance.

    I liked seeing all the pop culture finds, like the lunch boxes, but became furious when the host started to sell the items. Granted, she is in the business of selling people’s items, but she had ZERO interest in making the seller any money. She only wanted to make her commission and move on.

    Those lunch boxes were flying off the shelf because she priced them too low. She would have lost the sale on that one car if she couldn’t recoup her own credit card fees. After watching the show, it turned me sour towards estate sellers. Great for buyers, but when I decide to sell, I think I’ll seek out another option.

  2. Hi Cool & Collected,

    I’d have to say that I found her pricing of the vintage lunch boxes too low as well; but pricing, especially by location, varies quite a bit and I can’t speak for the prices in Michigan…

    I will say though that most estate sales I’ve gone to (and I’ve gone to quite a few) are set up quite differently; the estate sale services keep their prices quite high, discounting as each day passes, using a bidding box, etc. not negotiating like Cari did… Cari’s sale was more like a rummage sale, in my opinion.

    As for your future use, it’s easy to shop around for estate sale services — including stopping in at live estate sales to see how things are actually run.

  3. I watched the same show. What was truly very sad and disappointing was how she had a 30% commission for herself, and proceeded to low-price many collectables in order to run up her overall total. I about died when the pristine peddle car was “bundled” for $ 125.-. I’ve seen Peddle cars in that rare condition go for upwards of $ 1,000.- Not to forget her constant hounding the owner the immaculate Elcamino was overpriced at $ 20,000.- It’s not unusual for those in that condition to go for 60 K or more. Then the family owned 1946 Harley he wanted 30K for she thought was overpriced as well. HGTV needs to put her back in her little novelty shop and let her do her show in there selling nick nacks. She is NOT a professional antique person.
    I see this as a limited run show unless drastic changes are made, like getting a different host.

  4. I watched a recent segment of Cash & Cari and was dissappointed in total by what I saw her doing. This was the 2 sales in one weekend show. How she can run 2 sales w/staff and each gross under $4,000 grand is way beyond my ability to keep a business open. We do sales here in North Alabama and we can’t do that kind of sale and make anything with a staff. Then someone told me she charged 30% PLUS expenses back to the owners. Well, that would help you make money! Anyway. I am not impressed with anything about the show, it lacks any type of professionalism and pushes in my opinion the limits of what is ethical practices. She buys some things, she then takes some things on consignment, startled owners who sometimes know nothing of the values on this stuff let her do this. I call it a conflict of interest. Anyway, moving on, there was an appraisal done on what was proported to be an original Currier and Ives Winter Print with the appraiser saying it was worth $10,000 if in good condition but due to yellowing, etc., the print was only worth $4,000 or $5,000. Hello, that print, from what I could tell was a 1940’s knock off and worth $40. I wrote my comments to the HGTV Cari page and they didn’t print them. Oh, well. Glad I found you. Scripted reality shows like this really do a disservice to the viewers who think they are seeing something fresh, it’s just pure formula and meaningless for the most part.

  5. Although I enjoyed behind the scenes of these type of sales, I was disappointed with the show as well as much of the HGTV programming anymore. In my opinion, if you have seen this show once, that is enough!

  6. I was really excited when the ads for this show first started showing. After watching it a couple times, I am really disappointed. As some of you have pointed out, she (Cari) repeatedly talks about her commission before expenses and it is exhorbitant! I thought it was going to be a show about the items being sold. Instead, it appears to be a show about a cute girl making a killing selling other people’s items.

    Robert, I still watch the Pickers but have to agree with you, they do act a little dumb at times. And the way Mike laughs like a little girl is enough to make one wretch!

  7. I just caught a re-run on the lunch box estate sale and that god awful remake of the cheap (circa 1975 ) bench that no matter how much you paint it and staple on new covers, it is still cheap. For her to intend to price it at $300 is an insult to anyone who knows what that stuff is. Just the way Cari runs a sale makes me nuts and I have a hard time watching it. I saw a price marked on a collectors thermos in magic marker!!! You don’t write on product! Also, we do estate sales here and I know everyone has their particular method to do these things but we work strictly with a contract and in no way invite the owner to participate in the proceedings (99% don’t want to). We take sealed bids on items, furniture and other big $100 plus items, we ask for a bid for over 1/2 of what we have it marked. On cars, boats we let the purchaser bid, we show the results to the owner after we close the last day, who then decides how little he wants to take. We have had our clients at the sales, we usually assign them a particular job and ask them to refer all inquireys regarding their belongings to us, that’s what they are paying us to do for them.

  8. I commented the show on the older woman (Hazel) who kept the old milk jugs in the living room and the Roseville collection is a cardboard box in the basement!? I suggested being a little bit more realistic when staging. Also commented on the overly pretentious haggling… and also why every show has to have a dumby (Hoss)

  9. I was disappointed that the show is just about estate sales–I thought that with some of those valuable Antiques that she really sold them to cheap just to make her profit. Some of the items in the Older Ladies Home that was going into a retirement home–were very nice and some were sold to cheap.Kind of sad when a person collects for years and all of a sudden strangers come into a home and go through all your items –I know that it is way things have to be –but it still is sad.

  10. I’ve watched a few shows now, hoping they’d get better. The show that featured the vintage pool table in the basement was the best of her worst! For a person who claims to know her business, “the girl” knows her tools. Well first she had a home loaded with tools & tool shop fulled with parts. A man was just about gitty when filmed sitting along side his van packed with metal shelve drawers filled assorted parts. The same show featured a pool table inland with mother of pearl and the felt covered slate top piled with assorted little low cost items. The $550.00 buyer later boosted he would clean up the table and could sell it for 10 grand. This women doesn’t know a thing about running a estate sale. Most items don’t even seem to be even ticketed. She makes up prices only when someone asks. She buys items from her clients on the cheap only to say later she will resell them for hundreds of dollars in her shop. When someone hires a company to run an estate sale, they expect someone to get the top dollar for their stuff or they could just have a garage sale themselves.

  11. My wife and I love shows like this, but not this one. They apparently think their audience won’t notice very obvious differences in items or objects from one moment to the next. First example, how about that nice yellow old truck she drives from place to place, they show her driving it down the road then they cut to the interior camera view and suddenly she’s driving along in a new truck. They show this over and over and I guess we aren’t supposed to notice that they are trying to fool us? Second Example, Cari get the green Schwinn Varsity ten speed and has it restored. Then they show her riding it down the strre and she mentions that they restored it back to it’s original condition. Oh please!!! It’s not the same bike, not even a ten speed, not even close!! Except of course for the green paint. This insults my intelligence, they target this show at people who have an interest in collectibles and unique items, which means we examine the details, and then they expect to easily deceive us? Cash & Cari should be titled Bait & Switch.

  12. Yep, D & D, that bike episode was a classic misrepresentation of a classic. It’s hard to believe that the producers expected us to think that a lightweight Varsity bicyle with a derailleur, hand brakes, curved handle bars, and no fenders or chain guard was transformed in a bike shop to a middleweight model Hollywood with a coaster brake, chrome fenders, upright bars, and “Schwinn Hollywood” silk-screened on the chain guard in bright white! They were both green Schwinns of a like era, but that’s where it ended. It does make one wonder how many of the show’s stories are contrived for convenience and drama.

  13. I just watched it today for the first time, and was disappointed. She prices things VERY high, with cheapo fixes to “update” them. Then on an item she wanted for herself (the tool cabinet) she priced it very low at $75. It felt like she was taking advantage of the seller. As I watched, I thought to myself “I would not like to shop at that estate sale.” Something about the way it was run was distasteful to me. Don’t care for the show — kind of a waste of time to viewers. (Are we supposed to learn something or be entertained?)

  14. I just looked at HGTV Website, the Be On HGTV Page, Do you need someone to handle your estate sale in Michigan? If you are searching for someone to manage your estate sale, or a downsizing/relocating/liquidation sale, we can help. We will handle all of the details of your sale, from start to finish, including research and valuation of your items. Guess the producers haven’t been reading internet blogs with viewers complaining about the show.
    All I can say is OMG!

  15. I have a vintage looking antique picture & was wondering if it is worth anything? The National Police Gazette 1949.

  16. Hi Jennifer,

    We think everything has value; but that’s a relative word 🙂

    We don’t do appraisals here. (Check here for more info.) But you’re welcome to share more about your picture with us!

  17. Cari is a sweet heart who is very kind to the people that own these items. She is a great person who knows a lot. This is all new to her! The t.v thing, give her a chance! You have a camera in your face all day and see how you feel!

  18. Hi Cari,

    I LOVE your show,& I’m so disappointed when I encounter comments on this blog that criticize your no-nonsense ingenuity as a businesswoman, your amazing knowledge of antiques, & your charming, quirky personality. I hope you will keep being yourself, & ignore the uppity collectors who take their hobbies too seriously. My collecting obsessions are Fiestaware & vintage linens (i.e. Startex, Wilendur), but I strive to find only what I like, as opposed to what’s currently “hot”, or most valuable. You are truly an inspiration for those of us who collect for the joy of it, & the unique way our hobby helps us understand our social history. Thank you so much for all that you teach us & entertain us with your marvelous program!

  19. I was disappointed as well, having actually come close to having our business be one of the reality shows. We are estate liquidators in Vegas (yes, just a few miles from the Pawn Stars) and have a 12,000 sq ft antique consignment warehouse just filled with estate liquidations that are too small to be done on site – as well as those who bring in just a few great items. We have a few videos posted on youtube and we are a lot of fun. I like Cari and her store very much but work the estate sales differently than the show. Its really hard work – and takes us 8 days or more from beginning to end. Anyway-its fun to watch and much luck.

  20. I watched the show on 7-3-11 and there was a haywood wakefield piece that Cari refinished. I have several pieces in the champaigne finish and wondered what stain you used to refinish those you had in the champaigne finish. They looked perfect. I need to know what kind and color of stain you used? Thank you!

  21. Carol, if you didn’t get an answer to your question above, Cari’s store “RePurpose” is located in Northville, Michigan. We were there the past couple weekends; we like her store a lot and intend to go back.

    I have to say, everyone should keep the “concept” and premise of the show in mind. It’s not called “Antiquing Across the Mid-West”. And it’s not a tutorial on antiques and collectibles. There’s “Antiques Roadshow”. From all the shows we’ve seen, it seems clients seek out Cari’s service (and I’m sure she discusses her process and commission with them beforehand and that they’re going to be on tv) to make their items available to a wider public who are willing to select, pay and take them away – “cash and carrry”. I think the “re-purposing” of items is a sidebar that aligns with Cari’s principles around reuse and recycling, as reflected in the name of her store.

    We also watch “American Pickers”, “Canadian Pickers”, and “Pawn Stars”; you have to wonder why people who bring their items to be sold or pawned still choose to accept totally ridiculous offers in the couple hundreds from Rick and company, even after expert appraisers have examined the item and told them and Rick it’s worth thousands! – they’re free to put it on eBay or auction it! These types of shows are just what they are – entertainment with some historical and cultural value-add – and shouldn’t be expected to be more than such. And, they each have their faithful fans, I’m sure!

  22. @ Robert Baker re: The Picker Sisters…I was interested in seeing this show because I love the trash to treasure idea. There were several episodes on back-to-back and I watched several. By about midway into the 2nd episode, I was completely annoyed by the constant chatty banter of these two. I wanted to scream at the television for them to just stop talking!!!! I also had to laugh at the wardrobe choices. Wearing very short shorts and flowing chiffon tops for digging around in dumps and junkyards?? Yeah right! The show has some potential if they would just stop talking so much and quit trying to be cute!

  23. I love your show! If people dont like it. So what! You have plenty of people that do!
    I have a little boutique & sell unique furnishings and antiques. We provide furniture, fun finds & inspiration!! I look everywhere (and I mean everywhere) for cool items to bring back. I’m not perfect, but I try to be fair to the seller & to my buyers, while still making a profit and having fun! Its a hard balance. People have no idea how much work it is, & how much time & money goes into it. I admire you! ((Hugs))

  24. I just found your site (love it) and have spent about an hour so far reading your articles.

    I watched Cash and Cari online a few months ago and wondered about some of her pricing. I’m not a collector but even I recognized that her pricing was low.

    Cari’s pricing changed when she sold her grandfather’s items. She wasn’t nearly as fast and loose with the pricing and often held firm to close the asking price.

    After that show, I lost some respect for Cari. If only she cared about getting the best prices for her customers’ belongings as she did when selling her families possessions. If only.

  25. I find the show very interesting and I am an antiques and collectables dealer in VA. The bottom line is that the show should be an hour long not a half hour because there isn’t enough time to present what we need to see.

  26. I work for an estate sale company in Atlanta, and there are a few things I think that are not being considered in these comments. 30% is standard industry commission. Anything lower and you can’t afford staffing, credit card machines, fees, general business material, signs, advertising, etc.

    As far as pricing, you CAN NOT price things for what they are worth. Families host estate sales mainly to move out items they no longer want in order so that they can get the house on the market to sell. 95% of customers with left over items donate these items to charities. The object of the company is to liquidate as much merchandise in THREE DAYS as they possibly can.

    When you sell things based on commission it makes NO SENSE to price unreasonably low because your cutting money out of your own pocket! The more money you make the homeowner, the more money you make. When you do as many sales as these companies do, you have a tendancy to know how to price things based upon what is left over at each sale. If everything was marked full value, you wouldn’t see items moving… and as I said most families want to move things out so they can sell the house.

    It’s very hard to judge how she runs her business based on a 30 minute show that is edited as entertainment. Every home we enter has different circumstances…. without knowing those, you can’t possibly say she’s taking advantage of others…. especially since the family is usually overwhelmed with the amount of work which needs to be done, which I can attest is A TON.

  27. You guys answered a question that’s been driving me crazy! I wanted to learn more about this yellow van with it’s classic body and new interior. What kind of new frame did they mount the body to? How long did that take? etc. etc. I got on the internet to learn about that special van. Then DUH…they’re just using two vehicles. How dumb of me. And how disappointing. Ken

  28. I watched the show also and I think that she prices some of the pieces to low and others to high. On the Pickers show, do you know that they have a company tell them where to go and if the pieces are worthy. I sent the Pickers an e-mail because I have an old southern cook stove with the water heat that is in excellant condition and I wanted to sell it. My Grandmother had one of these and this one still works. Never hear a word from the e-mail I sent. What kind of business is that at least I should have gotten a response back stating they were not interested.

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