Last week I found some great items at a local, unadvertised yard sale. My friend Anne called me and told me she had seen a sign for the sale in a nearby neighborhood so I immediately headed over. The sale was run by a local antique dealer. The sale was a perfect demonstration of the estate sale shopping tip I am going to share with you today.
There are several estate sale website that advertise upcoming sales. You can do searches based on your location or based on a particular item that you are looking for. Some sales, such as this one, are privately run and not advertised on these sites. Most estate sale sites include a general description, a list of specific items, and lots of photos. If you see something that you really want, you can usually tell from the photos which room an item might be in. By looking closely you will know if it is a bedroom, living area, basement, or garage. If it is something that you have been searching for for a while, then you might want to arrive early the first day and wait in line and try to get to the room it is located in before other shoppers get there. This ensures you the best chance of being able to purchase the item you want.
I usually go with a different approach. I look at the listings and if I see a variety of items that I am interested in, I will go to the sale. Here is my tip. If you are not after a specific item then start in the basement or garage. You can often find items that are almost identical to items in the main living areas that are so much cheaper in price.
I bought this beautiful and unusual embroidered/needlepoint candle wall sconce in the basement of this house for three dollars! I saw a needlepoint piece in the main living area for 40 dollars. I would have liked to have purchased both pieces but I wasn’t going to spend that much. The quality was just as good.
I also purchased this unique carved sliding book shelf for two dollars. I had looked at one identical to it at a local antique store for 15 dollars and had seen them for more than 30 dollars on etsy. What a huge price difference.
This vintage Oliv Art mortar and pestle was only two dollars. I will probably list it for 25 dollars. If it had been on a bookcase or mantel on the main floor of the house it would have probably had a price of eight to fifteen dollars.
This over-sized brandy glass full of matchbooks was three dollars. It had almost 150 books of matches in it. They were vintage and were decorated with interesting graphics. I hope to resell them for 25-30 dollars.
Last month I bought this Marklin model train roundhouse at an estate sale for four dollars. I found it in the garage. I sold it in less than a week on ebay for 45 dollars. The prices in the main level of the house were crazy high and this was only four dollars. It didn’t have a price on it so I just asked.
When an estate sale company prepares a home for a sale, they focus on the main living area and the items that they think will bring the most money. If you think about it, there can be hundreds or thousands of items for sale. They often simply run out of time (and energy) to price everything. Some of the items you find in the basements and garages often don’t have price tags on them. Remember too if you bring several unpriced items to the estate sale employee they will often give you a bundle price that is even a better deal.
The estate sale company is trying to make the most money possible for their clients but they are also trying to clear out as much as possible. Just like you and I might move our less valuable or less favored items to the basement, I think they perceive that basement items just aren’t worth as much and they simply want to clear out the space. While this may be true in many cases, there are still treasures to be found in the basements and garages (and even storage buildings).
Shop the basements and garages first and then make your way to the main living areas. You are much more likely to find better priced treasures this way. Plus you will often avoid the crowded living areas, especially on the first day of a sale.