Estate sales - Anyone else frequent them?

This is a new pursuit for me.

Just got back from three estates sales. Picked up Doyle Brunson’s Super System for 50 cents, a pair of spring clamps like this for 25 cents each, and a like-new leaf rake for a dollar.

It’s good, cheap fun if you have an open weekend. Bonus: You get to snoop around (dead) folks’ houses.

The early bird gets the worm. So to have the best opportunity you should be there a half-hour to hour (or even more) before it is scheduled to start.

I used to go to garage sales and so would come across an occasional estate sale.

I found estate sales generally useless for my interests. Old people’s really old crap.

One did stand out: the parents of a deceased young man were running one to sell off his stuff. Very … eeew.

I don’t do garage sales anymore. Just too much time for the effort. Rarely found anything. Now I hit a thrift store once in a while on a discount day. Or I just get it from eBay or some such.

I did once. It was like an episode of the Twilight Zone.

Just a bunch of crap, like a normal garage sale, but this old dude just kinda wondered around, shuffling his feet, and would walk up to random people and say, “This is an EEEEE-State Sale!”

WTF? :confused:

I have been to a few. When they get crowded I run. I have found a few really nice things. The sales themselves are rare around here.
My Sister lives near Austin,TX, she goes every weekend. Finds the coolest stuff. But she’s a hoarder of sorts. I can usually talk her out of things when I visit. I am a hoarder on the wagon, so I must be careful.

The ones I’ve gone to are run by companies. If you go the last day, they’ll practically beg you to take stuff off their hands. One today was 75% off everything.

I know it’s 95+% crap, but I enjoy looking for cheap but useful stuff, mostly tools and books for me.

I don’t go to local estate/garage sales, but on roadtrips I do seek out antique malls and collectives. They’re a great photo opportunity(as long as the proprietors don’t object), like museums in a way with lots of interesting juxtapositions to be discovered amongst the bric-a-brac. I get most of my postcard packets for the exchange at those places.

“Juxtapositions Amongst the Bric-a-brac” - title of your next publication and/or show. Glad to be of assistance. :slight_smile:

I sure do! I LIKE the ones that have “old people’s crap” because they usually have a lot of things I can use in my online resale business. Several times, I have purchased astonishing amounts of vintage sheet music for very little money, and in addition for there being a surprisingly large market for it, it doesn’t take up much room in my apartment. :cool:

The ones in condos (and I can usually tell which company is running them) are another story; they are heavy on glassware and dishes, and newer furniture.

And not all of them are “dead people’s stuff”. Lots of people do this when they downsize.

One of the first I attended was indeed run by parents whose son, who was unmarried and had no children, had died unexpectedly in his 30s. Another I went to last year, not far from my home, was strange because it looked like a family had just walked away and left everything behind. Of course, I didn’t ask the people running it because it was none of my business, but I Googled the address when I got home and realized that it was the home where a young man who didn’t like the “follow our rules or move out” dictum his parents had given him killed them one night. The thing about it that REALLY creeped me out, in addition to nobody else being there despite it being the first day of the sale, was that every room in the house, even the bathrooms, had stacks of books about ADHD and Asperger’s syndrome, and Christian-oriented homeschooling materials. Most of it looked like it had never been opened.

I’ll stop by if I see one in the neighborhood, but generally I find that it’s all totally worthless overpriced crap.
When I do see something I’m interested in, it’s usually priced higher than I can find it for on ebay.

My wife and I spend most Saturday mornings at estate sales. It is interesting to go through the houses. We have founds some good bargains

I prefer estate sales to garage sales. The latter are just people getting rid of their junk. Estate sales are usually set up after someone dies or moves to a nursing home so there’s a more interesting selection of stuff. Usually the family has taken anything really valuable, and yes, the sales are run by professionals, which is fine.

I’m not looking for valuable stuff, but quirky things like table linens, kitchen things, utensils, glass storage containers, etc. I also like old cookbooks. I live in a neighborhood where the houses were built between 1900 and 1940, and I love to see the insides of the houses, whether or not I buy anything. I think about the family that lived there, and one of the things I like to picture is where they put the Christmas tree (if applicable).

About ten years ago, I started going to some estate sales to find classic audio equipment. If I saw a sale advertised, I would call up and ask if the individual had any. (This was more common if the individual was a male.) It turns out that it’s common for people to buy very expensive equipment as (I guess) a vanity purchase. I would find some very nice amplifiers, speakers, and other equipment that the estate agents had know idea what to do with. Later, I talked with a friend of my wife who does estate sales and she said that audio equipment was a real challenge for her. She knew that SOMEBODY would pay good money for it, but those potential customers rarely came to the sales. She didn’t want to post it on the internet and then have to ship it somewhere. She just wanted it gone. Younger people would show no interest at all, presumably because big, expensive audio systems are not a “thing” now.

I also make it a point to avoid estate sales that aren’t professionally run, that is, the sales listing will indicate “privately listed sale”; in my experience, they’re usually glorified (or not so glorified) garage sales.

I also tend to concentrate on certain neighborhoods, and certain types of houses. In my area, that would be Bloomfield, West Bloomfield, Birmingham, and I avoid condos. If it’s not a single family home, I don’t bother. We also tend to go on the last day; a lot of the larger, more expensive stuff still hasn’t moved, and it’s usually 50% off (I know which companies “don’t do that” now, and so usually avoid them).

I usually only go when my wife pesters me, which is finally uncommon, or when we’re looking for something specific. Especially when we returned from China, sold the old house, and bought the new, larger house, we pretty much filled the place with high-end estate sale stuff, after buying only two pieces at Gorman’s and Ethen Allen.

I’m not interested in kitchen stuff or garage stuff, but I always look anyway. I always find it amazing what absolute crap rich people have in their kitchens. I’ve yet to find a good knife, for example, and the appliances always seem to be Walmart quality junk. I do tend to pick up cheap wrapping paper, though!

I started going to auctions and later on estate sales about 20 years ago and the times have really changed. These used to be the places to pick up items at a bargain price and then resale. But with the advent of the Antiques Roadshow and American Pickers I have steadily seen the prices go up to near retail levels. You can still find bargains but it is much harder and takes more time to do so, I do a lot of research now before I even set out the door because anymore they list pictures of everything they have for sale. This practice draws more people in who normally wouldn’t go and tends to raise the initial selling price on day one. Going late on day two or three generally means all of the good items are gone. Years ago they just posted a few pictures of key items and gave general descriptions of everything else.

That said I still enjoy going to them just to see how other people have lived their lives. Some are in huge mansions on lakes and some are run down farm houses with stuff poked in the barns. It’s a good way to kill some time and pick up maybe one good quality item for less than retail if you negotiate properly but I don’t depend on it for income anymore because it’s too much work to put on eBay, package and ship for too little profit.

I’d be very surprised if we haven’t run into each other. I don’t speak with a lot of people at these sales (the competition!) but I do recognize the same faces from sale to sale.

I thought that’s what they were.

No, most estate sales and auctions are just that, the settling of an estate. Records need to be maintained for legal execution of the will and items being offered for sale are technically under the possession of the firm holding the sale and not the heirs. That is the heirs cannot come in and cherry pick items without the permission of the executor of the will and then the item must be assigned a value. Private estate sells are not subject to these rules and are often times the items left over after the heirs have had their pick.

Also, some sales labeled as estate sales are nothing more than moving sales or glorified garage sales. Some are seeded with items from other sources, items that hadn’t moved in an antique shop or other sales for instance. Follow them around enough and you learn how to spot and avoid these sales.

I recently went to a sale that consisted almost entirely of exactly this. It turned out that the homeowner, who was still alive but was in the process of moving away, had owned a high-end audio equipment store in previous decades, and this must have been stock he had moved into his house and stored all those years.

There’s a music store in town whose owner specializes in vinyl, and also makes a tidy income from selling this kind of stereo equipment, both onsite and online. Considering who was running the sale, it wouldn’t surprise me if they called this guy first and he had dibs on it.

Been to a bunch. Mostly looking for furniture to refurbish.

Saturday prices are too high. I am not willing to pay retail. If you go on Sunday, everything is half off, usually. They want to sell it, not move it.