Islip homeowner Cathy Conway sells virtually everything but the house — which she also wants to sell — on Friday's episode of "Everything But the House," HGTV's new appraisal and auction series hosted by Garden City native Lara Spencer.
The home, on Bayberry Road, still remains for sale, according to real estate sites. But Conway, 66, did manage to part with what veteran ABC newswoman and "Good Morning America" contributor Spencer describes as 546 items that filled four trucks bound for the titular estate-sale online-auction company based in Cincinnati.
"Cathy was going through a transition in her life," Spencer, 51, tells Newsday. "She had gotten divorced, her kids were grown, she had a house that was too big and it took her a little while to get some closure on that chapter of her life. And she was finally ready" to sell her lifetime accumulation of stuff, primarily in order to fly her family to Singapore to meet her new granddaughter.
How big an accumulation? Conway, a well-to-do woman who says on the episode she had attended one of President Barack Obama's inaugurations, not only devoted an entire room to storing Christmas items including Spode dinnerware, Byers caroler figurines and Annalee dolls, but filled others with the likes of a Roberto Cavalli dress with original tags and a pair of Christian Louboutin wedges in the original box.
"I'm very happy that she's lightening the load," her brother, Peter Costa, jokes in the episode, "because I almost felt that she was going to be on the show 'Hoarders.' "
"And then she also used to own a gift shop," Spencer says of Conway, who declined to be interviewed. "But when her gift shop closed, she didn't liquidate" and instead brought home her inventory, including a swarm of Mariposa serving platters.
Spencer, who is also the series' creator and an executive producer, says the show had a long gestation: "It's been like making a baby for four years!" She had co-created and narrated an HGTV pilot that aired May 20, 2018, and featured the company's then-principals, brothers Andrew and Jonathan Nielsen. The siblings in 2012 had taken over the firm, founded in the 2000s by Jacquie Denny and Brian Graves, but after a downturn and management changes, the company reverted to its founders in 2019. Denny appears in the new series, accompanied in the Islip episode by Andrew McVinish, the show's select-consignment director.
"We all know that sometimes when people die you get left with their stuff and don't know what to do with it," Spencer reflects. "But we found families that have really interesting reasons for being ready to do this, and so we not only discover the background of their things and hopefully find them money they never knew was sitting there, but then we get to see what they do with it. That was one of the criteria in choosing the families," she says. "How will this change your life? What will you do with that?"