He wheels and deals. Hurls insults and jokes. And does it all with lightning speed, making no apologies for his self-described "big personality."
His audacity and unpredictability are surprising in the relatively vanilla world of estate sales.
But those traits make Elenson -- owner of 2muchstuff4me -- ready for his close-up. Or at least truTV thought so, snagging Elenson and his crew for a behind-the-scenes look at managing sales in homes across Long Island and other cities. The series, "Big Brian: The Fortune Seller," premieres Tuesday, March 22 at 10.
PUTTING ON A SHOW
"When you go to most tag or estate sales, you can literally drop a pin and hear it fall . . . not at our tag sales. People are lively," Elenson says between drags of a Marlboro at his Oceanside warehouse. "I feel the more comfortable environment a buyer is in, the more likely they're going to spend their money."
But the level of comfort may be relative for those other than the homeowners who hire Elenson to run their tag sales, for which he earns a commission of the profits (usually 30 percent).
"I scream. I yell. I dance. I do jokes. I do voices," he says and begins to talk quickly in an accent that is not quite recognizable. "I'll talk Irish. I'll talk Italian. I'll talk Jewish."
His sales can attract more than 1,000 people who want to pick through an average of 4,000 to 5,000 items in a home.
"He literally puts on a show," says Cookie Traskos, 56, of Fort Johnson, N.Y., recalling a sale at her aunt's home in Douglaston. Held during Halloween last year, staffers dressed as a jester, cowboy and princess.
But above all, Elenson looks out for homeowners, Traskos says, explaining that he told a buyer offering $400 on a chair worth $3,700 that the chair "will rot before I give it to you for $400."
This tell-it-like-it-is approach is not hammed-up for TV, Elenson says. "If somebody bugs me too much, I'll say it," he says. "It costs me sales, but you know what, they ultimately come back over and over again. . . . I'm fairly pricing the merchandise."
SELLING AS A BUSINESS
Elenson took an uncommon path to estate sales. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he spent 30 years as a business owner, dabbling in medical supplies.
In 1987, Elenson pleaded guilty to felony grand larceny and other charges in a Medicaid fraud case. He chalks it up to confusion over what type of shoe qualified as orthopedic and says he paid $60,000 in restitution. In a statement, truTV said the network felt the legal matter was "properly handled" and moved forward with the series.
In 1997, Elenson decided to focus on estate sales. "One thing led to another and now I do 170 to 200 tag sales a year," he says.
Over the years, he's uncovered a bevy of strange to valuable items -- from a rare coin issued after George Washington's death to a stuffed Bengal tiger. Colleagues agree that Elenson is a thorough researcher and hard worker, but schmoozing is his forte.
"He could sell an Eskimo ice cubes," castmate Joseph Evans, 52, of Wyandach, who handles security during Elenson's sales. "He's good at what he does and he's very knowledgeable."
Elenson's assistant Sheila Lasker puts it another way: Relentless.
"He is one of those multitaskers," says Lasker, 57, of Island Park. "We kind of keep him on track so he doesn't drive us crazy, because he likes to jump . . . he's all over the place."
During an interview at his warehouse, Elenson literally jumps from the top tier of a metal shelving unit more than 8 feet high. Landing on the ground with a thud, he grimaces and grabs his ankle. Not broken, he declares -- just sprained (later a doctor determined it was, indeed, broken).
After swallowing ibuprofen tablets, he's back to work answering a cell phone that doesn't stop ringing. "You have no idea what I do in my business," he says. "I do it all."
WHEN | WHERE: 8 a.m.-4 p.m. March 25, Uniondale
INFO: 516-983-9381, 2muchstuff4me.com
Elenson's next 2muchstuff4me estate sale will feature vintage furtniture, clothes, clocks and other items for sale. The home's address will be posted on 2muchstuff4me.com at 9 a.m. Tuesday.