Wednesday, August 22, 2012

LIVE: Estate Saling - Knowing What to Buy & How to Buy It


For the finale of this series I’m going to talk about knowing what to buy and how to buy it.  There is much more to buying things at estate sales than simply forking over some cash.  Hopefully, this will help you maximize the investment and/or return on your purchase.

1.       Looking for treasures
I read the descriptions of what is being sold at the sales in the ads.  This gives me an idea of what I should be looking for.  I tend to be more drawn to the tiny treasures as opposed to the big pieces of antique furniture.  Most antique collectors are after that sort of stuff and most times, the companies liquidating the items are FULLY aware that what they have is worth something… and they charge accordingly.  But, when you happen to be digging through a box of miscellaneous “junk” and find an old vintage pocket knife with the makers name and year stamped on it… THAT is a treasure.  No one notices the tiny little things like that.  My husband lives to find things of this nature.  Often, he buys them for about 50 cents, and can turn around and sell them on eBay for $20.  Which brings me to my next point:

2.       Always have your phone with eBay access on hand!
If you are ever unsure of the value of a particular item, eBay will either tell you it’s crap or confirm your instincts that it’s a treasure.  One particular sale we hit, my eyes immediately were drawn to a stack of leather belts with gigantic gold buckles.  I gasped and said quietly, “Christopher Ross, oh my gosh.”  I knew from reading Sea of Shoes that these belts are collectors’ items and extremely hard to find.  I braced myself for an outrageous price tag, assuming that the company had to know what these were worth.  $18 each.  I thought they were knock offs, of course, $18 was too good to be true.  I checked the back of each buckle and yep, each were stamped with the makers signature and the year of conception.  One was actually by designer Margerita Barrera who worked along side Christopher Ross and emulated his style magnificently.  eBay confirmed the validity of my finds… so I bought them all.  Upon further investigation I found that the net worth of all three belts was upward of $3,000 and each buckle was plated in solid gold.  Let’s just say… I struck gold.  Literally.  So between eBay and my obsession with reading fashion blogs, I was able to actually make an investment with this purchase.
3.       Have a vision for turning junk into treasures.
This is almost always my purpose for estate saling… finding something old that I can make new and awesome.  Like these old brass bookends.  I loved the shape, but couldn’t stand the dirty finish.  Spray paint can work wonders!

4.       Know when Half-Time is.Every estate sale company designates a time in the afternoon when all items are ½ off.  Usually, they just want to get rid of everything by the time the sale is over.  If there is a large item (physically or cost wise) maybe go back at half-time to get it.  There is risk, however, in doing this.  Risk that someone else will buy it in that time.  So evaluate just how badly you want this item.. if it’s desperation you find, don’t wait.  
5.       Pick up what you like and decide later.
One thing to remember about estate saling… PEOPLE ARE VULTURES.  If you find something you like, pick it up!  Carry it around while you look around the house so that no one else gets their hands on it.  Then make your decision once you’re done looking.  I’ve learned this one the hard way!

6.       Don't be afraid to haggle.
The 2 main reasons for having an estate sale is to get rid of everything and make some money doing it.  If it means making the sale, most companies will go down on the price.  I try not to talk them down more than 10%, because frankly, anymore is quite insulting.  If you really feel they're asking too much, that's when you should consider waiting for half-time.  Sometimes if you are buying more than one item.. let's say 2 items marked $15 each, perhaps offer $25 for both.  Again, knowing the companies comes in handy with this.  You become familiar with those that are willing to negotiate with you and those who are not.

I hope this series helps make your saling excursion more productive and less painful.  If it’s not done right, it can be a miserable experience!  But if you take care, it can be so fun and so addictive!  We would love to hear any tips and hints you guys may have to make saling a little more fun.  Share with us!


1.  Vintage doll furniture  2.  Vintage liquor bottles  3.  A musty old room filled with lots of musty old stuff  4.  The most awesome wallpaper I have ever seen!

5.  Vintage beer cans  6.  Hanging flower pots (retail at $10-$15 each... bought for $3 each!)  7.  Creepy blue leather jacket   8.  Box full of vintage stamps for $8


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