• Jill

Estate Sale Success: Our Top 5 Secrets!



Whether you are an avid collector, a dealer, or both, estate sales can be an important and helpful source of great vintage and/or antique finds! Throughout the years, we have amassed quite a number of helpful tips and tricks, and we would like to pass these on to you. Here are our TOP 5 SECRETS for estate sale shopping success!


The thrill of victory! Notice the Pyrex bowls on the ground next to me.


Lots of Trial and Error


Sister and I have quite a bit of experience with estate sales. Over the years we helped our mother with her estate sale business, ran our own sales, and we also have attended tons of them as buyers. We were fortunate to learn from our mother, who was an antiques dealer for years and ran her own shop and estate sale business.


In our years of attending estate sales, we have experienced many highs, as well as, lots of disappointments. We have attended some sales that caused us to leave with that amazing feeling of complete euphoria that occurs when you find a home filled with reasonably priced treasures. You can read about one of those here! We have also experienced that disappointment that occurs when either you don't find anything of interest, or worse yet, when you do, but the items are outrageously expensive! With that being said, we do know something about estate sales, and here is our best advice.


We arrived one hour early to this sale... Look at that line!!


Our Top 5 Secrets for Estate Sale Shopping Success:


Use www.estatesales.net to locate great sales!


Oh, how I wish that our mother had known about this fabulous resource! This website is an antique shoppers dream! On this site, you can search for estate sales in your area. You can set your search parameters to within a certain location. Make sure to pay attention for specific information, such as payment options, special parking instructions, dates and start times. It is a great resource!


Use the photos from www.estatesales.net.


This is one of the most important resources that we use! We spend a lot of time studying the photos that are posted by the sellers. This is important for several reasons. Firstly, you need to see the photos to get an idea of whether or not the sale would be of interest to you. Secondly, if you're lucky, the photos will have been taken after the merchandise was priced. This can help you to decide whether or not you feel that the sale would match your overall budget. The third reason is that you can try to familiarize yourself with the layout of the house. This will help you tremendously with our third secret...


Have a plan!


We use the photos mentioned above to make a plan for navigating the sale. This means that we decide upon our priorities for what we would like to purchase and plan accordingly. If your are a serious estate sale junkie, you are there when the doors open. Everyone else has the same goal as you... to find the best treasures quickly! This is why it is so important to have a plan.


Let me give you an example of what this might look like. Sister and I always split up initially. At a recent sale that we attended, Sister's plan was to head straight to the kitchen and locate the Pyrex bowls that we had already found in a photo. My assignment was to find the head vases that were clearly located in a bedroom. I nearly always, try to complete my initial assignment, and then quickly scan the entire house looking for obvious bargains and/or treasures. This brings us to our fourth secret...


Arrive Early!!


This is super important if you locate a sale that looks promising! The old expression, "the early bird gets the worm," is absolutely true in this case. Sister and I have been known to arrive as much as one hour before a sale begins. This is what separates the hard core treasure hunters from the casual bargain seekers. Sometimes it's not a lot of fun braving the elements in a quest to land that stack of Pyrex mixing bowls, but nothing beats the high upon leaving a sale with a carload full of treasures!


We arrived thirty minutes early to this sale, and look how many people were in front of us!


Dress and Pack Accordingly!


This might seem like a no brainer. Dress comfortably and for the appropriate weather. This can be challenging at times. Make sure that you wear comfortable shoes. This is not the time to drag in a huge, heavy purse. I like to carry a tiny crossbody purse. Many houses are small and have very narrow hallways. It is much more difficult to navigate these homes if you're trying to drag around a giant purse. Finally, I always bring along several small grocery type plastic sacks. I stuff them into my purse or pockets to hold treasures as I find them. Of course, most estate sales will have a "holding area" close to the check out, where you can begin a pile of items that you plan to purchase, but those plastic bags do come in handy as you shop.


Sister with a carload full of treasures!

I realize now that I have many more tips for successfully surviving and thriving at an estate sale, but I will leave it at five for now. We would love to hear any great secrets for success that you may have, as well.


Sister and I have found quite a few fabulous treasures recently as some local estate sales that we have listed in our Etsy shop. You can find them here!


Don't forget to subscribe with your e-mail so that you will know each time that we publish a new blog post! Subscribing will also allow you advance notice of any sales that are occurring in our Etsy shop.

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