Estate sales are becoming a retail fad and it’s good to know some tips for finding those phat deals. Here are a few:
1. Arrive early — lines can start forming hours before the sale begins. Chatting with the people in line is a great way to pass the time. Also, don’t bring large bags or purses. It’s impossible for sale organizers to keep track of all purchases and large bags arouse suspicion.
Know Your Limits
A major key to successful rummaging at estate sales is knowing your limits. You don’t want to get in over your head, so don’t enter rooms that are cordoned off and don’t make offers on items that are clearly marked NFS (not for sale). Visiting a home that holds sentimental items can be emotional for many shoppers, but it’s important for hosts to separate the sentiment from the business of selling a loved one’s belongings.
When you are ready to buy something, ask about pricing and negotiating with sellers, but keep in mind that a good estate-sale experience requires time and patience. Most people attending an estate sale will be looking for a bargain, so you will be competing with them for the same items you are. If you find an item that you are interested in purchasing, don’t be afraid to ask for a discount.
It’s also important to know your estate-sale company and their policies. Different companies run their sales differently, and some will have a sign-up sheet to add names to an email list that will alert you of upcoming sales. Knowing this will help you to avoid wasting your time at sales that don’t meet your standards.
If you want to be sure of finding your favored item, make it your mission to be first in line at the start of the sale. This means you may have to play hookie from work or fake a bathroom break, but it’s worth it to be the first used furniture ninja to discover that phat couch.
Lastly, be prepared to do some work on your finds once you get them home. Vintage electronics like televisions, typewriters, and dial phones might need a little love before they are usable again. Games and puzzles may also need to be reassembled, or the pieces might be missing.
Shopping at an estate sale is a lot of fun, and it can be an adrenaline rush if you are willing to put in the effort. With a bit of preparation, you can have a great time discovering unique treasures and gaining design inspiration in the process.
If you’re going to spend the time and effort organizing an estate sale, you’ll want to make sure everything is ready for customers. That means cleaning and making any minor repairs. It’s also a good idea to catalog every item that is to be sold so you can give your clients an accurate and comprehensive list for reference when the actual sale takes place.
This is particularly important if the estate is being conducted by an organization that doesn’t allow family members to be present during the actual sale. Having the ability to refer back to a detailed inventory of each item can help heirs feel confident that they’ve been thorough. It can also be helpful in determining the value of an item as well as in deciding whether or not to lower a price on a piece of merchandise.
Another thing to keep in mind when preparing for an estate sale is that some items aren’t suitable for public consumption. For example, any personal documents that contain sensitive information should be removed prior to the event. This includes social security cards, military documents, medical bills and personal photos. It’s also a good idea for clients to remove any firearms from the home before the sale and have them secured by a trained professional.
Finally, estate sales are often crowded and chaotic. It’s a good idea for family members or hired helpers to cover each room in the house during the sale to cut down on theft and to ensure shoppers can easily ask questions when needed.
It’s also a good idea for estate sale organizers to have bags available on site for shoppers who wish to purchase multiple items. In addition, it’s important for organizers to clearly state if there is a line for an item as early as possible. This helps avoid confusion and irritability for those who may be eager to get their hands on a particular item. It’s also a great way to cut down on shopper frustration and keep people moving through the process as quickly as possible.
Don’t Bring Your Pets
It’s usually best to leave your pets at home when visiting an estate sale. Most hosts are busy juggling multiple tasks related to settling the estate and may not be willing or able to remove a family pet, especially if the animals are elderly. Additionally, estate sales are rarely childproof, with stairs and fragile items all over the place. It’s also not safe for your young children to be wandering around an unknown property where strangers are milling about.
Moreover, most estate sales have a no-refund and as-is sales policy. As such, you won’t be able to return that set of china even if it has three chipped pieces. It’s therefore vital to bring a few quick snacks like granola bars or trail mix, so that you don’t get too hungry and lose focus while hunting for bargains.
If you’re planning to spend a significant amount of time at the estate sale, consider wearing comfortable shoes that can be easily slipped on and off as you make your way through the various rooms. Many estate sales will also allow you to purchase a shopping cart, which can be very helpful for hauling heavy items home.
Since prices are not typically posted prior to entering the estate sale, a little pre-shopping research can go a long way. Look at similar items online to see what they typically sell for, and be sure to take the condition of the item into consideration. For example, a Marcel Breuer chair that’s being sold for $300 at the sale might actually sell for a much lower price online.
As the day progresses, estate sale pricing tends to get progressively slashed. Oftentimes, items will be 50% off Saturday afternoon and 75% off Sunday. Keep your eyes peeled and your credit card handy to snag some great finds at the last minute!
It’s important to remember that estate sales are not a retail environment, and there’s generally no bartering the first day. It’s also a good idea to arrive early and avoid bringing large purses, tote bags or backpacks, as these will arouse suspicion in the minds of the estate sale organizers.
Don’t Bring Your Kids
Estate sales are often associated with the death of a family member. They’re a way to sort through the belongings of someone who has passed away, and distribute them evenly among family members. However, estate sales can also be held by homeowners who are moving or downsizing, divorced couples clearing out a home, or even people who just want to start fresh with their possessions.
Most, if not all, estate sales are conducted in private homes and involve items with sentimental value. It’s important to respect these boundaries and be mindful of the backstory behind each item for sale. Many hosts have a fondness for the items they’re selling, and are eager to share their history with anyone who is interested.
Be aware that the items at an estate sale can be pricey, particularly if they are of high quality or rare. However, just because an item has a high price tag doesn’t mean it’s a bargain. Consider comparing the prices of similar items at other estate sales or retail stores to make sure you’re not paying too much for an item.
If you find something you really want, don’t be afraid to ask the host for a discount. Most will be willing to do this, especially if you’ve already demonstrated your interest in the item by asking about it.
Once the sale begins, be courteous of other shoppers and staff. Don’t cut in line, and if you are the first to arrive when the sale opens, make sure you clearly state your presence and your place in line so others know not to rush past you when the door opens.
Lastly, bring bags or boxes to carry your purchases in. It’s not uncommon for estate sale companies to not provide this service, so it’s best to come prepared. It’s also wise to dress comfortably and wear shoes that are easy to walk in, as most homes have uneven or steep staircases. Also, remember to pack a snack for yourself — it’s hard to tell how long you’ll be shopping! A granola bar or trail mix will help you stay on your feet longer and avoid hunger-induced impulse buys.