When You Must Liquidate

John Genovese Jr. and John Genovese III
Owners, Malama Auctions & Appraisals

Please tell us about your business.

John Genovese Jr.: My son and I own Malama Auctions & Appraisals ,which is a service that fulfills a tremendous need for people who are in situations where they need to liquidate or move many items quickly. We provide live auction services for individuals, businesses and charities.

John Genovese III: We also have a buy-it-now store in Lihue. If there is someone who has only an item or two that they wish to sell, we put it in there on a consignment basis. But our primary business is live auction. Also, the major portion of our business is the benefit live auctioning we do for organizations including Wilcox Memorial Hospital, Kauai Humane Society and Rotary Club of Kapaa – we’ve done fundraisers for all of them in the last six months.

What is an auction?

John Genovese Jr.: An auction is a “bid and ask” – it’s just an “ask”; it doesn’t mean that’s what the price is. You can ask anything you want. At an auction, we’ll typically try to start at what we feel the item would sell for or maybe a little lower than it would sell for. Wherever we start, it should go up rather than down like in a garage sale or selling something online.

How does an auction work?

John Genovese III: When we do “pots-and-pans” estate sales, estate liquidations or business liquidations, we go through and tag everything – everything gets itemized and we create a catalog. Then all of the auctions are listed online, so up until the day of the auction people can bid online. Then we hold a live auction, selling everything in the entire house. After a one-day auction that starts at 7 a.m. and goes to 7 p.m., by the time we leave at 7 p.m. we are sweeping empty floors; everything’s gone.

John Genovese Jr.: The properties people inherit here are sometimes full of items. They used to have to pay to have someone come in to remove the items, clean up and empty the house. Now, they are receiving large sums of money for something that used to cost them money. You can sell basically anything – the sky’s the limit.

Do you conduct real estate auctions?

John Genovese Jr.: Real estate, we think, actually is going to be a much bigger portion of what we do here than the pots-and-pans auctions we’re doing now. Real estate can sell higher in auction, especially well-sought-after real estate as we have in Hawaii. The world looks especially to Hawaii for real estate; it’s a Mecca for property investment.

Why did you start this business?

John Genovese III: It’s fun. I like the interaction with people and the service part of it. We used to auction off foreclosure properties, but we wanted to have more fun, be less stressed and spend more time with our family. This is the first business I’ve ever been in where people show up, buy things, leave happier than they came and invite you over later for dinner and drinks. If it wasn’t why I did get into it, it’s definitely why I want to stick with it.

John Genovese Jr.: I love collectibles, and I love collecting things. And so this business really scratches an itch for me. There’s not a collectible I don’t get to see, touch and deal with. I enjoy going to work and digging through boxes.

John Genovese III: He’s in it for the adventure. for sure.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of your business?

John Genovese III: When people approach us, typically it’s because they’re in a situation that’s not comfortable, and they don’t know how to get out of it. That’s the most rewarding part, helping the sellers. We recently did an auction where the sellers had a house full of stuff and only seven days to get rid of it. They had to leave because of a family emergency on the Mainland. They didn’t have to do anything except pick up their check.

John Genovese Jr.: The reaction is the same when we do the benefit auctions, as well. My son has a benefit auction specialist degree from Auctioneers Institute – less than 1 percent of auctioneers in the country have that. That has changed the way benefit auctions happen on this island. Organizations are realizing a new level of monies they never knew could happen. We have thank-you letters from these nonprofits that make me blush just thinking about – it’s really, really nice. Every portion of the auction business can be that way.

What sets your business apart from others?

John Genovese III: We work solely for the benefit of the people.

Open Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
3-3215 Kuhio Hwy., Lihue