Happy Friday! Today, I’m starting a new series called The Friday Five. Each week, I’ll give you a list of five things that relate to DIY, upcycling, home decor, home improvement, thrifty shopping, etc.
Today I went to an estate sale, and as I waited in line to get in, I thought of these five things to share with you about shopping at estate sales. Here are five of my tried and true tips for getting the most from shopping an estate sale!
1. Have a plan.
When I go to estate sales, I usually have a shopping list of what I’m looking for. That doesn’t mean that I won’t find other good vintage stuff I might want; it just means I have a plan in mind for what I want to find first and foremost.
Many of the companies that run estate sales – there are several in Atlanta – have Facebook pages or email blasts about upcoming sales and they often post pictures of what’s included in the sale. I scour those and look for anything interesting. If I find something I know I want – like the kite in the picture above – then I plan to look for that at the sale first.
P.S. About the kite: my daughter and I were looking at the pictures posted for this estate sale and she found the kite. She loved it and thought it would be cool in her room. For $10, now she has a one-of-a-kind vintage kite/wall hanging!
2. Start in the room with the stuff you want, or in the back.
This is where looking at the pictures of what’s for sale in advance really helps. You can usually tell in what room the stuff you want is located. When you get to the estate sale, ask the person at the door how to get to that room. Then go and get your goodies.
If I don’t have a particular item I’m looking for, then I start at the back of the house. Why? Because usually everyone else starts at the front of the house, when they first walk in. They linger in those first rooms. I go to the basement or the room farthest away, where there are fewer people and the stuff is less picked-over.
3. Bring a big cup of patience and a smile.
Today’s experience at the estate sale is my case-in-point. It was raining. And windy. And cold. And raining some more. Not a pleasant day weather-wise.
As we stood in line to get in – and sometimes you have to stand in line to get in – the people around me were kvetching (i.e., complaining) like nobody’s business.
“It’s so cold!”
“Why don’t they let us in?”
“I think that woman was here after I was – how did she get further up the line?”
You get the idea. So. Much. Whining.
If you are going to an estate sale, and one in a rather nice neighborhood like this one, and you get there right when the sale opens, you might have to wait to get in. Bring patience, and lots of it. Also, bring an umbrella if it’s raining. Bring a coat if it’s cold. Bring a book or a smart phone to entertain yourself. One of the women in line said we’d been waiting an hour, but I didn’t notice because I was doing work on my phone the whole time and it flew by.
Also, bring a smile and a positive outlook. I don’t like complaining, even though I was cold just like everyone else. So I started dancing when we were in line. Yes, I looked like a goof. But I had a smile on my face, I was staying warm, and everyone else around me smiled for a bit, too.
4. Wear comfortable shoes.
For the estate sale today, I had to park about a half-mile away from the sale. Once I got to the house, the driveway was like the Everest of Driveways. It was steep. (If I hadn’t been so focused on not slipping and falling down the driveway, I would have taken a picture.) Then we stood in line. Then I had to walk back to my car, with my loot in hand. I was on my feet and moving and grooving a lot.
So, wear shoes that are comfortable for moving and grooving. Since it was raining today, I wore comfortable, waterproof boots and they were perfect.
5. An estate sale is NOT the same thing as a yard sale.
It depends on the sale, of course, but my experience is that, usually, if a company is running an estate sale, you can’t negotiate prices on the first day of the sale. On the first day, the price is as marked. Usually the price drops the second (and third) day of the sale. This is, of course, different from a yard sale, where I always negotiate the price.
There’s always an exception, though. For example, the ironing board above came from an estate sale that was run by a relative of the homeowner. There were no price tags on anything. I offered her $5. She agreed. Boom. (Mic drop.)
So, there’s the first Friday Five! Fabulous! What tips do you have for shopping at estate sales? The list above is not an exhaustive list; just the top five. I’d love for you to share your tips.
super great tips! Ive never been to an Estate sale but I’m going to look into finding one! Great finds! Look forward to your new series!
Karen Cooper says
Veronica Marks says
The tip to start at the back of the house is great! I’ve definitely found most people start at the front of the house, and it makes it hard to leave the excitement of the crowd and search for other treasures. The tip to arrive early is so good as well! With winter coming, I definitely don’t want to have to wait outside at all. Thanks for a great article!
Karen Cooper says
Are prices usually higher at an estate sale vs a yard sale? You mentioned prices were a bit firmer.
Karen Cooper says
I think so, but that’s often because the stuff being sold is either bigger (estate sales often have lots of furniture and rugs) or of better quality. Not always, but for the big estate sales (run by a company), that’s often the case. The prices are definitely firmer at an estate sale. Usually the prices are as marked on the first day, then the next day, reduced by 25%, then the last day, 50% off. Yard sales you can negotiate much more easily.