Estate Sale Shopping Tips

Estate sales My husband and I have always liked collecting old things and have been going to private estate sales on and off for years. Besides our sofas, beds, and appliances, most things in our home are vintage.
My husband has taken up welding as a hobby and is looking for vintage tools to outfit his shop and I’m always on the hunt for vintage fabrics and sewing supplies.
 I get e mails every week letting me know when and where the estate sales are and sometimes if the photos interest us, we go. This sale was on an old ranch and there were going to be several outbuildings, plus a house full of stuff, so we decided to go.
When going to an estate sale it’s important to try to get there early. Sometimes people are lined up and waiting a half an hour before it opens, like vultures. Extreme Pickers. Most of them are antique and junk dealers who resell the stuff they find at estate sales at either the flea market or on E Bay. But some of them are people like me and my husband, on the hunt for something unique and just curious to look around.
  
I suppose a lot of people might think it’s weird to go and look around at estate sales. And many might think it’s even weirder to bring your kids, but I didn’t have a babysitter so the kids had to tag along. There is something morbid and sometimes depressing about looking through people’s things for sale. Sometimes a person has died and the family is selling everything off, sometimes an older person is moving into a nursing home and needs to unload their posessions: you can’t fit much in those little rooms, sometimes people are just moving, and sometimes people have fallen on hard times and liquidating. That’s a lot of sometimes.
Often, a professional company handles the sale and things are very organized and then there are the times a family member has died and the immediate family is handling the sale, clearly distressed and confused about what to charge for things. Usually when a company handles the sale the prices are higher because they take a cut but sometimes the seller is highly motivated to clear EVERYTHING out and thus, incredible deals can be found.

estate sale tips

 If you are planning on going to an estate sale you should always bring some kind of box to put things in as you shop. I didn’t need this giant box as I bought only a few sewing notions and a vintage Pyrex dish but I was prepared anyway!

 This sale was a terrible mess. The company who handled this sale did a bad job of preparing things  in my opinion. AND their prices were too high. We took turns watching the kids so they didn’t get into anything too dangerous. There were a lot of sharp tools just lying around.

estate sale tipsDon’t forget to negotiate when buying things at an estate sale. Unless you feel the price is great or feel guilty low balling people. If the seller is a family member I usually just pay the price they ask or ask for a small discount. You have to feel out the situation out case by case. it’s a personal thing, estate sales and you need to be respectful. You don’t want to seem like a vulture.

I’m always on the look out for sewing machines and this house had two, an entry level Brother from the 90’s that wasn’t worth the bother, and this old Singer which was cool looking, but I DON”T need. But it was fun to look through the drawers, etc. 
 
This machine was from 1941 according to the manual I found in the drawer.



I did find some packages of bias tape and rick rack and a little fabric, but not much else besides a vintage Pyrex dish.

  
My daughter had fun hula hooping and my husband waited for me because I always take way longer than him to poke through things. I became engrossed in an old box in the shed full of old photos and old letters, trying to piece together this person’t long life. According to this photo they graduated Robert Fulton junior high school in 1961, wherever that is.
Then everyone came to get me to tell me it was time to leave. I wonder if someone will be looking through my old things one day? I’d better keep them organized just in case!

 This truck belonged to one of the dealers who showed up. He restores cars and looks for parts.

And while going to esate sales isn’t necessarily the most wholesome family outing it’s just what we do sometimes. Hopefully my kids won’t end up too eccentric because of me!

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-McKenzie

Comments

  1. amy mayen says

    It looks like a fun thing to do. Thanks for the tips about being respectful and bringing a box. I always look at them in the paper and wouldn’t have thought to bring something if I go to one. I imagine a lot of people wouldn’t connect the emotional aspect to it- so it’s good that you talked about it.

    It’s kind of neat you looked through the photos and things. When we are gone it might be nice to have people thinking about us.

  2. MsKRS' Pink Stitches says

    I wished I lived closer…then we could “shop” together!…I love going thrifting and I always go…even if its by myself…Some people think its weird but they have no clue what treasures you may find…..and I just like to search through the clothes; like a calming type of thing you know?….Thanks for sharing! I love your blog!…:)

  3. Victoria says

    I love estate sales, my favorite kind of sale because they are so personal. It is so interesting to see how others maintained thier lives and what treasures they have collected oover the years. It is weird I know, but I feel that I am visiting with the person even though they are not around.

  4. says

    As an estate sale company owner, let me just say WOW! That was really set up by a company??? OMG! I would be SO EMBARRASSED if one of my sales looked like that! That is usually how it looks when we just walk in the house BEFORE setup! Those boxes look completely untouched! Who knows what items were left in there…. just amazed. WOW. It pays to know what to look for in an estate sale company!