Can I call myself a professional “estate saler?” My husband and I like to think of ourselves as two. When you use up every weekend rummaging through other people’s homes, watch shows like Auction Hunters, Pawn Stars, Storage Wars, and American Restoration, and are able to tell the difference between a book that is worth money and a book that isn’t….I feel you pretty much qualify. I think our dream job is to run an auction house.
Now I know what some of you who do not share this passion of ours might be thinking…but you’re going through people’s old junky stuff! or who wants old junk anyway? Well, we do for one. And most of the time…it’s not just old junky stuff. Lemme tell ya somethin’ about people back in the day…..they REALLY knew how to build stuff. It was all about quality, not about quantity. They used REAL wood for furniture, not the fake junk like particle board they use nowadays. They put actual TIME into their work. Things were built sturdy and strong. And they were built with someone’s hands. Plus….these things have a story. I love imagining where they came from and who used them.
Now, not all estate sales are filled with antiques. But we’ve found that the majority of them are because it’s usually the house of an elderly person who has passed on. Sometimes families will hire estate sale companies who receive a portion of contents sold. A lot of times….they don’t. This actually works to your benefit because:
The family is left to get rid of the contents of the home and potentially sell the house.
Which means prices are LOW. Think about it…..if you were left to get rid of everything in your parents house, you would just want to get rid of it as fast as you possibly can, right? Right. So contents are priced to go. Sometimes the family doesn’t know the value of what their deceased relative has, which means you score a sweet deal. The other benefit of this is that:
You can bargain. The more you buy, the easier it is to bargain because you are removing more from the home.
Take this picture for example:
All for $40. Do you know how much that vintage trunk alone is worth? Hundreds of dollars. HUNDREDS. But again, the majority of people do not care. They just want the “junk” out.
The most important key to estate saling (is that a word???)?
Get there early.
You want to be one of the first people in the door. There are other people who have the same idea as you, and therefore if you want to get the good stuff, you need to compete with them. This may sound crazy, but look at it this way…..you will also have the first picks of everything.
Basements, basements, BASEMENTS.
Some of the best stuff is in the basement! Pat found a 1913 Webster’s Dictionary that he just thought “looked cool” for $3. It’s appraised at $175. $175! And I’ve found some pretty awesome vintage stuff in basements as well. Rusty vintage scales, vintage suitcases, vintage soda crates…the list can go on. If you enjoy displaying these things in your home like we do, you can appreciate what I’m talking about 🙂 And last…
Take your time.
Some of the best stuff is the stuff that’s front and center of a display. Take your time REALLY looking through what’s there…I guarantee you will find something that suits you whether you enjoy antiques or not.
I hope I’ve encouraged you to at least check out one estate sale in your lifetime…the RIGHT way. Or maybe you’ve been doing this all along? Leave me a comment with your BEST estate sale find…I’d love to hear all about it!