How To Shop Estate Sales
A Note –
I asked a few of my friends to pop in for a guest post while I’ve been figuring out my new mama schedule! I’m sure you follow most of these amazing women who will be sharing, but if you don’t you are in for a real treat! See previous posts here, here, here, here, and here.
Y’all are in for a treat today! Paige and I met many years ago when I designed her blog header (eek!!) back when I was doing custom illustrations… a lifetime ago! We, of course, became fast friends as I just adore her. Truly though, Paige is one of the most talented stylists I know… her eye for color and the unexpected is just flat-out unreal. And today she is spilling all of her favorite tips and tricks to treasure hunting. Which, if you know Paige, you know she does that WELL. I’m feeling lucky she’s sharing all of her best advice below…
My Best Estate Sale Tips & Tricks
Guest post by: Paige Minear
creator of The Pink Clutch
As you may know, I love to shop. And shopping for vintage and antique items is at the top of the list of shopping trips. I have loved everything antique-related since I was very little and would go to antique auctions with my grandparents. After purchasing items, my grandfather would refinish pieces in his garage shop, and I would hang out with him and watch. The smell of stains and the feel of sandpaper and tools immediately make me think of my time in their garage. It was then that I became enamored with all things old.
After inheriting many pieces, I began to mix old and new in our home with very little new. I have always loved items with a history and have been known to make one up without knowing it. You should hear the story of the beautiful lady portrait in our primary bedroom. I believe history is unique, and mixing old and new in our house has made it feel like a home collected over time. Shopping for our home and organizing items is one of my favorite hobbies. During the pandemic, my hobby grew so much that I decided to open my vintage resale shop, Shop Pink Clutch. I enjoy collecting items that others will also love. I always try to choose unique and hard-to-find things to set myself apart from the many other resellers online.
When sourcing for the shop (readers and myself!), I find that estate sales and thrift shops are two of the best resources. Estate sales can be intimidating, and I hope these tips and tricks will help you feel confident shopping and negotiating prices. I love to check the listings, plan my days, and then head out early, hoping to find unique pieces at great prices. Many of the items I find go straight to the shop, but some live with me a while before departing. And, as always, I am always hunting to add to the collections I own. And, yes, that is an “s” on that word… I have so many! Below are my best tips and tricks for shopping estate sales.
Find the sales
Download the Estatesales.net app. It is free, and you can set it for the area around your home. (I have a 50-mile radius set for myself.) Then check the app beginning on Tuesday of the week you want to shop. Most sales start on either Thursday or Friday, and you want to plan ahead!
Each sale will be listed separately with photos. I check each sale and look at each picture. When finding an estate sale I like, I “favorite” it and then I can view my favorites separate from the rest of the sales. If you dislike a sale, you can hide it from the list of other sales. When you favorite an estate sale, it marks it with a green heart. Sales you have not opened yet will be marked with a black dot to the left. Once you favorite sales, you can easily access those to keep top of mind.
But remember, not every item in an estate sale will be photographed. If you like what you see in the photos shared, you will most likely appreciate what else is for sale there. And then once you become familiar with a specific estate sale company, you’ll be able to find your favorite sales quicker.
Plan and pack ahead
Next, plan the time you wish to arrive and make a plan of action for your estate sale shopping day. I try to hit the best sale first and then make a circle home later. Sometimes I just can’t, as the estate sales should be shopped in an order with the favorites I chose. Those days I just know I will be driving all over. Get up early, make sure you eat breakfast, and pack a bag with water and snacks. Estate shopping is so fun, but also tiring! Know you could be in line for a while.
Pack an estate sale bag full of what you need: a tape measure, a hair tie, a notepad, cash, snacks, wallet, and keys in a large tote. Some estate sale companies provide bags and boxes to pack your items when you leave and some do not. A big and sturdy tote will become your best friend! Also, if you use one of their employees to pack your items, make sure you tip. They will remember you next time! I have one guy that texts me photos and prices early. He is my favorite person, maybe ever! Over time I have collected several totes that fold down in my most oversized tote so I can pack my items on my own once purchased.
Shop, shop, shop
The description section for the estate sale you wish to shop will provide all the necessary details: payment options, discount days, and a photo number for the estate sale company. No company will share prices before the first day, nor will they discount anything on the first day. Two companies I love only accept cash.
You may have to wait in line with smaller houses as they let in small groups at a time. Cutting the line and being unkind to other buyers is frowned upon. You may see the same people repeatedly at sales! Also, be really kind to the people checking out. They are the ones you will be asking for deals on later days. They will remember you!
When you are at a house, use the hold section. This is a holding area to place the items you want to buy. First, make sure this is a hold table and not a space where you must commit to buying things you set here. Only a few companies do that, but make sure you check! I use the holding area to pull the pieces I want, and then after shopping, I can revisit the items I have placed on hold to decide what I want to purchase.
You may research resale items to ensure you know what you are buying and what it is worth. Google image is your best friend! You can upload a photo of whatever it is, and Google will give you all the places it found a similar thing. For example, I found a Hermes scarf once and wanted to know its worth. Just using the section of the scarf, I found it was super rare and worth upwards of $3000. I paid $3!
Don’t forget to have so much fun! I am telling you, estate sale shopping can be addictive, hence the reason I needed to open my own shop. I kid, but also not! I love helping others find items from their wish lists and being able to do the same for my own. I have seen some fantastic things, and nothing is more fun than getting up early for a day of hunting. I highly recommend you give it a try!
Creator of The Pink Clutch, your daily dose of joy!
Thank you, Paige, for all the awesome tips and tricks! I can’t wait to scour an estate sale soon!