Co-founder Jacquie Denny is ready to spread the word to national TV viewers about Everything But The House.
She wasn't quite ready when someone suggested doing a TV show back in 2008.
"From the second year that Brian (Graves) and I had this business, people kept saying, 'You ought to do TV.' And we said, 'We're too busy,' " says Denny, chief development officer for the Blue Ash-based online auctioneer.
Denny finally had the time last summer. She and 10 employees spent three months shooting seven Everything But The House shows with Lara Spencer from ABC's Good Morning America and HGTV's Flea Market Flip. HGTV is expected next week to announce a March premiere for the show.
The EBTH team helped seven families declutter, downsize, distribute or monetize items from homes in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. The shows end with Denny and Spencer revealing how much the family made from an EBTH online auction.
Although some families used the proceeds to provide financial security or reach a monetary goal – such as a vacation or a college fund – "it's not always about selling stuff," Denny says.
"This can give people closure. For some families, it's a social archeology. We go through the things with people. We help them decide what they can donate, and how to split up some items with siblings, and which items have the most value" on the second-hand market, she says.
EBTH shows viewers how a "terrible loss or a life change can turn into the best thing that happened," she says.
It wasn't glamorous or easy. Some places were a tight squeeze for the 10 EBTH experts and a TV production crew to work for a week at one location under pandemic protocols.
"The worst thing about the East Coast is that most of the older homes don't have central air conditioning," she says. "In some places it was 110 degrees in the attic by 1 p.m."
They helped siblings and their mother sort through classic dolls and other valuable items as she downsized her New Jersey home. Another show features a New York couple who moved to the family farm with an art collection they didn't appreciate.
"They thought it was the ugliest art they've ever seen," Denny said. The couple was surprised to learn that their "museum quality art collection" was worth thousands.
The history of the EBTH television show is almost as complicated as the company's story. Denny and Graves lost control of EBTH when they sold a majority stake in 2012 to a local investor, who greatly expanded operations. The co-founders, who had stayed involved in the company, re-acquired the financially struggling company for $3.5 million in 2019.
The TV show effort was started under previous managers in 2017, "and Brian and I were not asked to be in it," Denny says. Spencer, who has hosted Flea Market Flip since 2012, "got wind of" the EBTH television project early on and championed it, Denny says.
A pilot episode aired a year later – on May 20, 2018 – with Spencer as "narrator and creator," along with EBTH former executives Andrew and Jonathan Nielsen as co-hosts. All three were listed as executive producers.
Days after Denny and Graves resumed control of the local e-commerce site in 2019, HGTV ordered new episodes. A new pilot was filmed that fall with Spencer and Denny, but it didn't debut until shortly before Thanksgiving 2020, after the additional seven shows were in the can.
"We got a lot of positive feedback. People loved it," Denny says about the pilot.
Spencer and EBTH are in excellent hands. They've partnered with High Noon Entertainment, which has a very impressive cable TV resume: HGTV's Fixer Upper, Good Bones and Restored By the Fords; Food Network's Unwrapped; TLC's Cake Boss; Animal Planet's Dr. Dee: Alaska Vet; Nat Geo Wild's Dog Impossible and Pupparazzi; the Weather Channel's Hurricane Hunters; Netflix's Southern Survival; and Travel Channel's Extreme Screams and Extreme Waterparks.
Contents from the seven houses were transported back to Blue Ash for the online sale, "because that's where we ship items from," Denny says. Online bidders were told in September and October that the items were involved with a television show, "but we didn't say what TV show." Then Denny flew back to New York to film the finales presenting each family with a check.
Despite the long days and hot houses, Denny says she hopes to shoot more shows with Spencer.
"It was a wonderful time," she says. "At 65, who would have thought that anyone would want to see me on TV?"