I am lucky to have friends who know how to entertain me for the weekend. I went last weekend to visit a friend in Lansing, Michigan and we spent the day estate sale shopping. I managed to get a pretty decent pile of things for the shop and for myself.
Most everything in my home is vintage and I've gotten pretty good at finding treasures and I realized there are a couple of clues I could give you that help you find a good estate sale. Most areas have an estate sale listing and you can just google estate sales and the name of your town (if you are in a super small town then search the next large town over) and you'll find a listing. Chicago folks can look here.
- Review the listings within your area. I highly recommend looking at the pictures posted with the listing. You want to go to the places that have piles of stuff. Clean looking houses usually don't hold treasures. Also, avoid moving sales because they've taken the best stuff with them and there isn't much left behind.
- I usually go the last day of the sale because everything is marked 30%-50% off. If you see something in the pictures that you must have then go the first day because chances are it will be gone.
- Do not go with any preconceived notions of what you will find. If you are looking for a tall blue mid-century modern vase you may not find it. If you are looking for some cool vases or decor for your living room, then you may find that.
- Hunt through everything. One of the houses we went to last weekend looked super picked over, but then I kept looking and I found some amazing pottery that was worth at least 3-4 times what they were charging (especially since it was the last day and 50% off).
- Bring cash. Most places only accept credit cards over a certain amount. If you are looking for a piece of furniture bring a measuring tape to make sure it is the size you want. Bring water and hand wipes because it is dusty dirty work. I usually bring those big blue Ikea bags because you can fit so much stuff in them and they are easy to carry.
- If you are buying a few things you can politely ask for a discount, especially if it is the last day of the sale. Price is negotiable but keep in mind you don't want to be insulting. It is usually easier to get a discount if you are paying cash.
- Most importantly have fun. You never know what you are going to find.
I prefer estate sales over auctions. Mainly because I can pick up what I want, pay for it and leave. I do also stop at thrift stores, flea markets and vintage shops, but I've had the most luck at estate sales.
Sometimes it is hard to go to an estate sale because usually the sale is happening because someone has passed away. Instead I look at it as a way for that persons treasures to be cherished anew.
Keep an eye on the shop because I'll be posting all the goodies I've found recently.