Hi there! I’m so glad you dropped in today because you’re in for a treat. I’m “partying” with my THRIFTY CHICK friends and our theme is Something You Love.
I think the original idea was to present a Valentine project, but I decided to take a slightly different tack. I’m going to talk about why I LOVE to shop estate sales for the vintage and antiques that I sell or to keep and decorate my home with.
Where do you buy your vintage merchandise? Are you a thrifter? A garage saler? An online (eBay or Etsy) buyer? While we have many options, most of us have a favorite way to “source” our vintage. My first choice has always been garage saling, and until very recently, estate sales landed last on my list.
However, with the changing demographics in our country, I’ve become a HUGE fan of estate sales. They are now pretty much tied with garage sales. So today I’ll share the reasons why I love estate sales so much, but I’ll also give you a look at some recent estate sale finds.
I spent just $20 at a single sale and was able to purchase some interesting items. Let me know what you think. If you were hoping for a Valentine’s Day project then check out the 12 that I have gathered here 🙂
Estate Sales Tend Have a High Density of Vintage & Antiques
Not all estates sales, but most have quite a large quantity of vintage and antiques for sale. This gives you the opportunity to buy more items from one location, rather than taking the time and gas to gallivant around town, hoping to come across a handful of garage sales that feature one or two good pieces, at most.
Companies in the business of holding estate sales are typically most interested in those that have more antiques, since antiques and vintage typically make the most money for sellers. In a world where time is money, it makes sense to focus your time on the place where you’ll find the most antiques. Estate sales are one of those places.
Everything that you see in this post, I picked up at just one estate sale in the dead of winter, when there tend to be less sales.
The vintage gavel cost $2 (value: $15-18); the vintage hand broom cost: $1 (value: $6-8); the early set of 12 feathered darts cost $3 (value: $20-25); and the long natural bristle brush cost $1. The latter looked too much like a bottle brush tree to pass up, so I’m going to turn it into a Christmas tree at some point.
Estate Sales Have a Wide Variety of Merchandise
Not only do estate sales have more vintage and antiques for sale, they have more of EVERYTHING, including household supplies that I need. Things like cookware, dishes, cleaning supplies, tools, and craft supplies can very often be found at estate sales, and in large quantities.
Many of my favorite pots and pans, china, and glassware came from estate sales. And rarely do I have to buy paint, wax, or polyurethane because I always manage to find it at estate sales.
They also tend to be great sources for goods that beg to be upcycled and transformed into something amazing, like tools and old fashioned kitchen wares. Estate sales usually have entire garages and basements full of awesome JUNK that I can use for my various projects, like farmhouse signs and Christmas decor.
Estate sales often contain wonderfully unique items that I love to decorate with personally or offer for sale. For example, I picked up an old grocery store sign that I have hanging in my kitchen. Slightly curved, white on green, it reads “Thompson & Hoague Co.” It’s a prized possession.
This particular sale was lower on the household supplies end of things, but I did find this galvanized dust pan (cost: $1), which I plan to turn into a Christmas decoration and these miniature garden tools which I also plan to use in some sort of DIY project.
Many Estate Sales Have Reasonable & Even CHEAP Prices
Here in Upstate New York, prices at estate sales used to be exorbitant, hence the reason it was my least favorite source of antiques. Early in my vintage-buying career (back in the late 90’s), I very rarely even set foot in one. Plus the idea of waiting in line for an hour or more, only to be literally bumping into other buyers completely turned me off.
However, I’ve noticed an happy phenomena over the past five years or so, and that is a rapid increase in the number of estate sales, which has led to a concurrent lowering (sometimes drastically) of prices due to competition. It’s now possible to buy items with plenty of room for me to four times my investment (or more).
I found these gorgeous chess pieces inside of a candy container, which I bought for $5. Unfortunately, one piece is missing, which thankfully I knew before the purchase.
I thought they were beautiful and believe they likely date to the late 19th century (France). I may try to sell them individually, but I could also try to source the missing piece on eBay.
The bright, amusing graphics on this candy tin (that held my chess pieces) make it very attractive (value: $10-15). The black and pink color-combo date it to the 1940-50’s.
An Austrian refugee and his family started Barton Bonbonnier in 1940’s Brooklyn. They were responsible for rescuing many Jewish refugees and offering them employment upon their arrival in the States. Love that story!
Estate Sales Run by Family Members Often Have Terrific Prices
I’m always on the look-out for sales held by family members as opposed to “professionals.” They tend to be more anxious to make sales and price items lower. By cutting out the middle man (the professionals), the families make money directly and can also enjoy the benefit of seeing with their own eyes, items being sold to people who will appreciate them.
On the few occasions when I’ve suggested to family members holding sales that some of their prices might be too low, they tend to respond with something like, “We just want to make sure things get into the hands of people who will enjoy them.”
When I suspect that a family members are organizing a sale, I will try to attend it early on the first day, so I don’t miss out on any great deals.
The sale where I made all of today’s purchases was not run by a family, but I made some nice buys, like this colorful cutting board (cost: $1, value: $12-15) and MCM corkscrew (cost: $1, value: $5-6). I have a bar cart that I plan to makeover, so I pick up interesting bar ware whenever I come across it.
Getting to Know the Businesses that Hold Estate Sales Has Benefits
Taking the time to get to know the various companies that hold sales in your area has a couple of benefits. One, you many notice over time that they seem to specialize in certain types of sales. Two, knowing the companies that offer decent prices will save you time by allowing you to avoid the higher priced ones.
Three, getting to know staff always benefits you with good customer service and frequently, better prices. I enjoy people and so getting to know the businesses that hold sales and their staff is enjoyable to me, and quite often naturally comes with benefits, as I mentioned.
A few years ago I brought my sweet daughter to her first estate sale where she found a few items she wanted to buy. At the checkout, she asked for a couple of dollars off the price of one item and the woman in charge, who I’ve known for years, said yes, even though it was the first day of the sale.
She told me later that she wanted to encourage my daughter in her new-found hobby (of hoarding vintage, like her mother, LOL). Our long relationship of buying and selling didn’t hurt either.
Make sure to sign up on email lists of companies you like (ask to be put on one, if you don’t see it). Give them your card and ask for theirs in return. Begin to develop a relationship with them because you never know where it will take you!
Even though this General Electric, c.1950-60’s kettle-shaped clock (cost: $3, value: $12-15) is not in the best shape (the coppery finish has seen better days), I found it irresistible. I think someone is going to love it.
So, that’s why I love estate sales, and I think you will too, if you don’t already. I use estatesales.net to locate the sales in my area the night before I want to attend and add them to the list of other places (like garage and church sales) that I plan to stop at as well.
Are you an estate sale lover? Haven’t given them enough of a chance yet? Have a different “favorite” vintage source? Tell me all about it in the comments below!
Please drop in my dear THRIFTY CHICKS gal pals and enjoy their “love” posts.
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