My first memory of an estate sale centers on a beautiful oak table with a pink marble top. Even though I must have only been five or six years old, I still remember the exquisite carving on the legs, and the extreme weight of the marble slab. I also remember how happy my mom felt when placing that fine table in the living room.
Many times, people think that estate sales only offer furniture like the example mentioned above; however, they offer much more than that. They usually have bargains galore – everything from clothing to dishes to collectibles. Some of my most recent finds include: Haviland china, Mexican postcards, Jackson 5 records, and even a German candy dish.
I realize that estate sales might not be for everyone. This is because usually the owner of the items has passed recently, and family members may be present during the event. I’ve found interacting with them a positive experience. It not only gives them a chance to talk about their loss, such as relating that “Aunt Betty” loved to travel the world, or that “Dad” had been collecting trains since he was a child, but I also learn about the history of the items I am interested in.
Another positive is that these sales also allow people to buy items they normally wouldn’t be able to afford. For instance, a few years ago I stumbled upon the estate sale of my former high school English teacher. What an honor to go through her collection of quality books and to purchase a few for my own collection. I also bought a set of gorgeous dishes (enough for 12 settings). Luckily the books and dishes only cost $25.00! Even better than saving all that money was knowing that my beloved teacher, the woman that sparked my love of words, used the items.
Last week I experienced another estate sale surprise. The owner of the items had been an elderly woman, and she had several designer tops that still had the tags on them. The best part – the tops fit me perfectly! I bought three to wear to work for $3.00. I knew I had made a great deal when even my teenagers complimented me on them.
So, if you decide to give estate sales a try, keep in mind the following tips:
1. Items can go quickly.
You have to realize that estate sale shoppers are serious shoppers. If you find an item you really want, buy it the first day, or it may be snapped up by someone else. Most of the time, items will not be “held.”
2. Sometimes bargaining works.
A few times I’ve asked for a small item to be “thrown in” with my other purchases, and it has worked. If you like to bargain, try it; it doesn’t hurt to ask for a price reduction as well.
3. Many estate sales offer items at half price the last day.
If you visit sales on the final day, you will usually increase your buying power tremendously.