My First Estate Sale
My first time going to an estate sale was a very interesting one. As I like to say, everyone’s experience will be different. I’m just going to talk about my experience, so it will give you a starting point as far as what to expect.
Lets just start from the beginning: What is an estate sale? An estate sale according to estatesale.net an estate sale “is a way of liquidating the belongings of a family or estate.” Normally this happens from the death of a family member, and the family wants to liquidate the belongings of the deceased person.
For a dealer, and this is going to sound heartless but I certainly do not mean it that way, it’s a way to get some good stuff super cheap. First, lets talk about something really important.
Be respectful. Sometimes the family of the deceased person will be present, you should be respectful. Don’t walk in the door and make a statement like ‘This is just a bunch of junk!” Because sometimes, well, it will be. Just keep that to yourself. A family has lost someone they cared very much about, making a statement like that will just make you look like an asshole.
The first sale that I went to the family was not present, but regardless, you should still be respectful.
Its in the house. In most cases, the sale will be held at the home of the deceased. It was quite an experience being greeted at the door of someone else’s house by an auctioneer and being told “Everything is 25% off, theres two bedrooms that way, kitchen and basement that way, everything is for sale.” I smiled and thanked the man.
It was to me, unsettling, Being turned loose in the house of a total stranger. Brent didn’t have the same feeling about it as me, but I'm more empathetic than most people. As we were walking through the place, Brent says “It’s an estate sale, you can open drawers and stuff.” I said “It feels like such an invasion of privacy.” That’s that empathy in me talking.
While we were perusing the basement, a woman made a few trips up and down the stairs toting box after box of fabric. While making small talk with her she said “It’s a lot cheaper than going to the fabric store.” She does quilting and at $2 - $3 per box, she’s right. I started sifting through boxes with everyone else. There were other people who’d obviously done this before, and they were not as bashful about making selections.
Keep in mind, you’re helping this family. The family has already divided the things that are sentimental to them, and what’s left is the stuff they don’t want. To put it in perspective, anything that’s left after the close of the sale on the last day, is going to either get thrown out, or donated. It’s good to be empathetic and understanding to the weight of the situation, but don’t pass up a good deal.
I left there with some things I was very happy with. A handful of mid century meat charts, two really nice French wood smoking pipes, a vintage Duncan yo-yo (Brent kept that) and a Pancho Gonzales vintage tennis racket.
It was an icebreaker, it was the first one I’d ever gone to, on a tip from a friend at one of the antique stores we go to. You should do it at least once, wether you’re a dealer or not. You'll be helping out a family, and you might find something you really like.