Friday, July 8, 2011

Estate sale tips and hints

I'm not a pro yet, but I have learned a few things in the past few weeks that I can share! If I miss anything, please post your tips in the comments!

First: make a plan. If I'm wanting to hit multiple sales in one day, I prioritize based on the area, the items available, and the time the sale starts. I jot down the addresses or save them to my phone and use my GPS to navigate around. Be sure to bring cash!

If you want the best selection, the best thing you can do is to SHOW UP EARLY!

Be there on the first day, at least 20 minutes before the sale opens. You'll stand in line, but you'll get to meet interesting people and find out about other sales and hear what other people are interested in.

See the lady in the bottom corner who has a plastic basket? I didn't think to bring a bag or basket or box to this first sale and I wound up trying to balance everything which is dangerous in a crowded, cluttered estate house. Now I keep a tote bag in my car that I can use for my sales!

Talk to people - they're great resources. Sure, they're kinda like competition but chances are, they're not looking for the same things you are. And be sure to have fun with them!

Expect the unexpected:

This pretty lady was hanging around one of the estate sales I went to. She was friendly and trotted around the crowded house with all of us. You never know who is going to show up or what is going to happen! Be alert! Don't get in people's way. Say "excuse me" and be polite to the older folks and try to even be nice to the rude people. There are plenty of rude people.

Pay attention to the ads and photos posted- if you don't see anything in the photos that looks appealing and the sale is far from your house... you may not want to waste your time on, for example, thousand of rocks:

If there are certain items you're interested in, start noticing where those who run estate sales typically place those items. I tend to like items in garages more than items in dining rooms, for instance. If I'm disappointed in items I find in the house as I do a quick walk-through, I'll tend to bee-line for the garage or basement to see if I have more luck there.

Be on the lookout for items for your friends and family - and ask them to do the same! I came across these cameras and texted a photo to a friend who collects vintage cameras. She wasn't interested but it's nice to scout out for other people. I would be lost without my mom who is always on the lookout for me!

Check for sales in your area and begin to notice the companies that are frequently holding sales. Visit their websites and sign up for their mailing list or follow them on facebook so that you can always be in the know. I really like being able to correspond with and support my favorite estate sale company on Facebook - it helps develop a relationship and it never hurts to be friendly with the folks running the sale! In fact, one of the girls who runs a company with her mom is around my age, lives in my neighborhood, and according to facebook we have 12 friends in common! We just hung out at a neighborhood mixer and I'm really glad I'm making a new friend who shares my passion for vintage!

If you see something you REALLY like or if there is a collection of multiple items that you're interested in, check back after the sale to see if they're still available. I have done this twice so far with great success!

The first time was at an estate sale of an artist whose paintings I really liked but couldn't afford on the first day - plus there were SO many that it was hard to dig through all of them. I bought a few then when the sale was over, they posted on Facebook that they still had items. I went out on the Wednesday following the sale and bought a ton of great things - at a really awesome discount! The second time, I was the first person to an estate sale that boasted on Craigslist that they had over 100 owls. I bought 5 or 6 but when the sale was over, I emailed the address that was used to post the Craigslist posting and she sold me all the leftover owls for a great price!

Each time, the estate sale holder (is there a word for that??) was so happy to get rid of more items and I was so happy to get a discount!

Do you have more tips?? Let us know!


  1. I think I'm too cheap to go to Estate Sales. Seems like just the name makes people think they can ask higher prices for their junk. My personal opinion. Although I will still stop when I see one, just in case I find something for you! :)
    your mom

  2. i have found the prices to be very cheap and reasonable actually!

  3. Neato post! I recognize some of the photos and anecdotes!
    A couple thoughts on pricing from the "inside"--Garage sale stuff deserves garage sale prices, but better stuff deserves better prices. Also, first day prices are for collectors and end-users, so-to-speak, not really for people to turn a profit or get a bargain; come the last day (or after) for the real steals! Last, most companies have some sort of pricing policies or at least pricing strategies in their contracts with the sellers, so it's good to ask at each sale what the deal is.
    Happy hunting!

  4. I love your little "o" in the tab up there! It's sooo cute and relative to your blog.

  5. melissa - thanks for the extra tips! it's nice to have an expert around!! :) i'm still so excited for next week's sale - have you been uncovering lots of cool things??

    mom - thanks! :)

  6. I love your blog, Jamie! Just spent some time stalking it haha.. I oohhed and awwed over your wedding for forever! Love love love it.

    -Bonnie @ Revolutionaries

  7. I've never been to an estate sale. An estate auction yes. Auctions intimidate me but I think I could handle the sale. There just aren't that many around here or they happen when I'm at work.
    But really great tips!



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