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Monday, August 20, 2012

LIVE: Estate Saling - The Planning Stage

I’ve been going to Estate/Yard/Garage/Rummage Sales since I was a kid.  My mom always dragged us along and I hated it, but now… I’m an addict.  Every weekend my husband and I hit estate sales.  I’m going to break down our strategy for estate saling for you to help you make your experience as fun and care-free as possible.

The Planning Stage

1.       Know the difference between Garage Sales and Estate Sales.
Garage Sales: great if you have kids.  A lot of people sell lightly worn children’s clothing, toys and various other things at garage/yard sales.  Other than that, the chance finding anything of value is really quite non-existent.  Most people use garage/yard sales as a way to sell their garbage.  Literally.  And that is why we frequent Estate Sales instead.

Estate Sales:  Mostly, estate sales happen after someone passes away.  It’s a way for the family to liquidate whatever items are left from their loved one.  Often, you’ll find antiques, furniture, china, collectibles and clothing at estate sales.  The best part of Estate Sales... they happen ALL YEAR LONG!

2.       Know your source for ads.
Know where to look for the ads showcasing Estate Sales.  Locally, we find them in the Almanac and the Pennysaver.  There are also various iPhone apps available that list and pinpoint the sales on a map.  We use Garage Sale Rover every weekend.  Some sources may list items being sold and may even offer photos of said items.  If using Craigslist, PAY ATTENTION TO DATES.  Unless the user deletes the ad, it will stay on Craigslist until it expires.  More than a few times we've shown up to sales 2 weeks after they happened thanks to Craigslist.

3.       Choose your locations.
When hitting estate sales it is absolutely imperative that you choose a good neighborhood.  Upscale neighborhoods usually offer the most worthwhile items.  But, it depends what you are looking for.  Sometimes we hit the artsy areas of town and find some pretty interesting things.  In the Pittsburgh area we frequent Upper St. Clair, Peters Township, Squirrel Hill, Sewickley and Mt. Lebanon.

4.       Map out your route.
Once you choose which sales you want to hit, list them all out on a piece of paper in the order you want to hit them.  Besides location being considered, you may want to think about the items you were looking to get your hands on and how desirable they would be to others.  This may influence how early you want to arrive at a sale.  Make sure when you make your list to write down the full address!  This way you can use your GPS and not get lost.  Most times, the directions given in the ads are awful.

5.       Know your local Estate Sale Companies.
We have learned from experience that we favor certain companies over others.  Certain companies price higher or vend clients that don’t necessarily have much to offer.  Then there are those that price high, but always host high-end clients with a lot to offer.  Some companies haggle better, others will never budge on a price.  Some take credit cards, others only take cash or check.  This will take time, getting to know the companies, but it helps when choosing the ones you hit once you do get familiar.  We know there are certain companies to completely avoid.  Most companies have lists available at each sale of other sales they are hosting.  Grab one and make sure you’ve got all the ones in your designated area on your route!

6.       Always have cash, checkbook and credit card with you.
I usually always have at least $60 in cash on me, plus a checkbook and credit card.  I try to only use the cash, but sometimes there’s a huge piece that you just CANNOT pass up.  It’s best to get your cash the night before.

Tomorrow I’ll be posting part 2 of this series:  Estate Saling - Being Prepared 

If you guys have any tips or tricks that you want to share with us, let us know! 

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