Profile of a Sierra Madre Character

Sep 17, 2010

While catching up on the last few months of Los Angeles magazines recently, we came across a wonderful profile of Cynthia Abernethy, the queen of L.A. estate sales and a longtime Sierra Madre resident. Most of the sales she runs are here in the San Gabriel Valley, which article author Dave Gardetta says are better, on average, than the more storied sales in places like Beverly Hills. This is a tremendously entertaining read—if anyone from Showtime is reading this, take note: A series based on her, and the cast of characters who go to her sales, could be the next Nurse Jackie or Weeds.

Here’s the opening excerpt of the piece; you can click on the link at the end to keep reading.

Tough Sell
By Dave Gardetta, for Los Angeles magazine

Cynthia Abernethy wears a button pinned on either lapel to work. One reads I’m the boss, the other, No. When approached by customers seeking a deal or discount—queries she deems inane and unworthy of reply—she points an index finger to the second button and offers a smile. A woman who ventures, “I saw this bed for less on eBay—can I have a discount?” gets the button; so does a man holding out a blender, asking, “Will you sell this to me for a dollar?” Abernethy’s regular customers know the button is always waiting, and some try anything to make off with her merchandise cheap. They switch price tags. They hide items before a half-off sale, then return to retrieve them and the markdown. They lug boxes of goods to her register, stowing something expensive in the last, hoping Abernethy will shrug off the chore of addition and offer a bulk price instead. Caught stealing—even whining about a price—a customer risks public humiliation. “One day,” says Abernethy, “this really dirty, supercheesy guy was complaining for the fifteenth time my prices are too high. I said, ‘That’s it—you’re done. Get out and don’t come back.’ I noticed his fly was open, and while he’s leaving I yelled, ‘And another thing—your zipper is open!’ ”

Read the rest here at

2 Responses for “Profile of a Sierra Madre Character”

  1. By chance I read that piece and you’re right, it’s a delight.

  2. H Smith says:

    I just came back from one of her estate sale in San Marino and my son was just standing on the floor when a woman told me to hold onto my son. I made a complaint to Cynthia who collects money at the front of the house and she said the email said “No Children.” I went back to the email and there was not a single thing marked “No Children.” She did like to make her famous unprofessional column called “Hall of Shame,” which she complains about various different customers. I do not care if you are the “queen” of Estate Sales. You can be President Trump, and still can not make comments and tell neurotic stories. Listen, in the medical realm, what would you say if a Doctor complained about your attitude and states that you are a malingerer and that all your health complaints are nonsensical when he/she has a bunch of other patients waiting to see him/her? Is that fair??? So be professional and put down under your Hall of Shame that you do not like children. Enough said.



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