Monday, September 20, 2010

From One Estate to the Next...

This weekend I was back in Cape Cod for one last glorious weekend. The weather couldn't have been more perfect for shopping estate sales on Saturday. I picked up an amazing set of wooden folding chairs from a beer garden in Brooklyn, two lovely red trash cans and numerous sets of glasses.
The niche world of estate sales, home of antique dealers and collectors can be a little intimidating. The free-for-all race, digging through treasures in someone's home and finding the best sales definitely takes a little getting used to. To help, I thought I'd put together a list of tips for shopping estate sales.

1. There are two kinds of "estate" sales. Those run by professional companies and those run by families. In general, I tend to favor the sales run by professional companies. While the prices may be a little higher (due to commissions), the items tend to be better than at a glorified garage sale. Plus, most companies tend to place pictures of the items online up to a week before the sale. I use these pictures to figure out which sales to attend and those to skip.

2. Map out your estate sale route the night before. Grab a local paper the day before (I used the Cape Cod Times) and look in the classified section under estate sales/ yard sales. In general, I try to pick estate sales that are fairly close to each other, so I can hop from one to the next. My goal is usually to try to go to at least 4-5 in a morning.
3. Make a list of items you are looking for and do a little research the night before. (I use eBay as a simple gauge for pricing). Try to figure out how much the item is worth and how much you are willing to pay for it before you go.

4. Estate sales start early in the morning (usually on Sat and Sun) and as expected the best items are sold as the doors open. Make sure to get the sale 20- 30 min before the sale starts. Most dealers starting lining up around this time and you have a better chance of finding that unique piece at a great price.
5. Don’t forget the attic, basement and garage. Attics are usually full of linens and hidden treasures, while basements and garages usually have great tools, gardening and outdoor items.

6. All sales are final! Be sure to check glassware for any major chips or digs before you purchase. Furniture should be inspected to make sure the piece is structurally sound and that the wood isn't splintered or repaired.

7. Usually everything is for sale, so don't forget to look at the rugs, curtains and blinds. (Some estate sales also sell old doors, windows, etc).

8. At estate sales run by professional companies, staff are usually located in each room to help. If you find something you like, leave the item where it is and grab a staff member and have them write up a slip for you. Use these slips to pay at the end and then go collect your items. (This ensures that the item is marked as yours and you don't have to lug it around the house.)

9. Bring cash! A lot of smaller estate sales don't accept credit cards, so make sure you have cash on hand. 

10. Have fun! The best part of an estate sale is the thrill of the hunt. Whether it's uncovering that amazing painting, or snagging an oriental rug for a steal, have fun with it!

Any other tips or something I've missed, please feel free to share.


  1. Glad you enjoyed the tips!

    I know you like the vest. Great minds think alike :)



Share |
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...