I went to a couple estate sales this past weekend…including the cool one I had been talking about.
Found a few REALLY neat things:
This is a photo album filled with about 100 pictures of the crew and their adventures on the USS Cepheus in World War II….plus some other neat archives found in it. This is going to require some research…
So…as I was at these sales…and they both were KUH-RAZEE with people…I thought it would be a good topic for a “treasure lesson”.
So here are some helpful hints for finding things at estate sales:
1. This is the most important, I feel. Most estate sales are being held because of unfortunate circumstances. Death of a family member, moving to an assisted living/retirement facility, bankruptcy, financial problems. If the sale is being held by the actual family themselves, I think its important to conduct oneself in a manner that shows respect. You are walking through THEIR house and looking through THEIR things…some of which may be sad or hard for them to have to sell. Its okay to haggle over a price…but if you are doing it on every dang thing…that’s obnoxious in this circumstance. If you don’t like the prices…just leave. No need to make a scene.
Okay..enough on the “moral” tips…here’s some game plan stuff for estate sales..
2) Get there early or get there late. With early…you will deal with a line/crowd…but all of the stuff is out. If you can hang until the crowd thins…even better…then you can do a few circles. Its amazing the things you miss even going around a couple times. If you can’t get there on time….showing up on the last day is great too. Usually everything is 1/2 price (ask though!) and they are really trying to get rid of it so they don’t have to repack it or donate it.
3) If they are letting you go through cabinets, desk drawers, dresser drawers…do it! There’s a LOT of treasures in these places. A lot of people don’t want to take the time to dig through stuff….too bad for them. I have found some AMAZING things in these places. Okay…one more moral tip…if you find something REALLY personal (checkbooks, keys, social security cards, etc) give them to the sellers…I have found a lot of these things and they are often unaware that they were there.
4) Closet shelves and floors are also great places for treasures. Ask though, before going into a closet/room that looks like it may be shut off. Sometimes doors get accidentally closed during a sale….so it may be open…or it may be off limits.
5) My favorite place in an estate sale is the garage (if they have one)….I have found some great things hidden in corners/cabinets…and usually the stuff in the garage is really cheap.
6) Ask the sellers if there is anything else for sale besides what is in the house. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told “Oh yes..the shed is PACKED!” or “Sure…we put a ton of things in the backyard!”. Doesn’t hurt to ask.
7)Estate sales run by businesses can be okay too. Most often I found that they have MUCH higher prices and the “treasures” have already been found and priced WAY too high. But there are the exceptions…not everyone knows everything…so you never know.
Some awesome things I have found at estates sales:
A Jazz Festival program from the 70’s signed by Thelonius Monk…I think it was a dollar. It was hidden between some books on a book shelf. I found it on the last day of the sale.
That big box of Christmas ornaments from this story.
A vintage “State of California” tablecloth from the 40’s…stuck in the back of a drawer.
Estate sales can be really fun….good luck and happy hunting!