junk haul from estate sale

Estate Sale Guide

When Kenny and I first began our vintage, art and nature business, we had never been to an estate sale.  We knew that might be a good way to get inventory, but were clueless about how to attend.  One of our local business coaches gave us a few tips and we have been hooked ever since.  We have learned you win some and you lose a lot!  But, it is fun if you appreciate architecture, art, and antiques.  We have also met a lot of knowledgeable folks along the way.

How to Find an estate sale

We use a website called estatesales.net to find estate sales all across the United States.  We have also learned which companies put on the sales that best match our needs.  Like I said, it is hit or miss.  Sometimes a sale is awesome and we buy a truckload.  Sometimes, everything is priced higher than we can pay for resale.  Many times, the items for sale are just common household items, clothes, furniture, etc.  What our customers are looking for might differ from what you or your customers are after.  Anyway, each sale listed will have pictures of many of the items for sale which helps us decide whether to attend.

attending the sale

rusty bicycle at an estate sale

Always read the directions on the listed sale.  Sometimes we find information on parking or other details in the description.  When we arrive, we usually just park on the street unless there are specific directions.  Most of the time, we are able to walk right into the home.  Sometimes, especially in bigger cities, we have to take a number and enter at a designated time.  

If there is something you really want, arrive early!  A few weeks ago, I really wanted to pick up a “bird girl” statue (Think Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil) that was listed in a sale.  We went on the second day thinking it would still be there since discounts aren’t until day three.  It was the first thing I asked about when we got there.  I was so disappointed when I found out it had sold on the first day.

checking out and payment

The company putting on the sale will have a table set up somewhere for checkout.  We have always found these folks are roaming around helping throughout the house as well.  When we are ready to check out, we head to the checkout table.  We also find out ahead of time what form of payment the sales will accept.  Sometimes we have been caught unaware that they only accept cash.  

The company will sometimes wrap and bag your items.  Sometimes you have to just carry the items out.  Most of the time, we load everything ourselves although a few companies have help for loading.

respecting the home

farm estate sale

At first, when we began attending estate sales, we felt weird going through the owner’s belongings. I usually can’t help but wonder about the circumstances leading to the sale and get a little sad.  However, it didn’t take us long to realize that you can attend an estate sale respectfully.  Many times we find something to admire about the home.  It might be the view, sense of style, or taste in art.  Sometimes, we feel a connection to our own upbringing or things that we like. Often we find a treasure (flowers to us)!  

Kenny and I make it a point to appreciate the opportunity.  We do not get upset when people act childish over being first in line or something like that.  We do encounter those folks especially at the more urban locations, so be prepared.  Most folks we meet are just like us.  An estate sale is what you make of it.  It is a fun opportunity to get some good deals and find some interesting things. 

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