The Estate Sale Experience

It’s just after dawn on a Friday morning and the birds are chirping while the faithful arrive early, carrying boxes, to stake a place in line. Many are regulars and their delight with the prices and selection offered is critical to the success of the sale. For some this is their livelihood, while  others are here to furnish a new home or replace a worn out appliance. The door will open at 9 am and the thrill of finding an unknown masterpiece or practical doodad dances in their heads and keeps them coming back.

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Everything Must Go

Finding just the right treasure is objective and can be cutthroat. Estate sales have become very popular and buyers know that everything must go, sometimes causing a feeding frenzy. An estate clean out is the purpose for the sale and although prices are not negotiable or rock bottom, they will be appealing because of their fairness and the allure of hidden bargains. There are two factors that make estate sales exciting:

  1. The sale is time limited with reduced prices each day- over 2 to 3 days.
  2. The variety of items being sold have not been previously picked over and are the quality that stand out as desirable, not “donation destined” when researched by the professionals holding the sale.

There is absolutely no shortage of stuff. As people get divorced or move to smaller homes to retire, they realize that enough stuff is enough and it’s time to let go- sometimes of the possessions of a lifetime. In fact, “estate sale” can be a misnomer, since this is really about folks selling their belongings to downsize and simplify. They are ready for an “estate” clean out before they die or leave the work of doing it to their children.

Expect the Unexpected

The types of things being sold you usually don’t see every day of the week. If it’s reasonably priced and it makes you smile or you have a practical use for it, then grab it. Shoppers may end up buying an entire room for their rental at the beach, or an unusual Anchor Light table lamp to accentuate their nautical decor. It’s the allure of finding that one perfect in-homogeneous centerpiece for your living room that keeps buyers on their toes and coming back.  

You truly never know what you will find. No two sales are ever the same. You may find a set of Callaway golf clubs for $100. A bronze figurine of a girl holding a flower for $50. A silk oriental carpet, $400. It is not unusual to find a collector letting go of their prized 40 + brass bell accumulation at a fantastic “boxed lot” price. Tools and hardware can go for ridiculously low prices as well. Antiques that have been stored in sheds and basements are displayed next to contemporary teak furniture or a flat screen television.

Best Kept Secret?

Finding a sale that has the ambiance you are looking for is no longer difficult. Technology has made pre-shopping as easy as logging onto your computer. A good estate company will shell out 5% of their profit to advertise the sale. You just have to know where to look. To get a consolidated overview of upcoming local estate sales or when you are vacationing, start with or  Both will have gallery views of many of the prominent featured items up for grabs and give you a feel for the caliber and style of the sale. These sights will even help you map out a route if you want to hit up a passel of sales, just to see what might be worth coming back for the next day at 30% or 50% off already great prices. If you're on your lunch-break, or don’t feel like getting out of your recliner, then shop the online estate sale auctions on and contact the seller to pick up your new widget in a few days. You won’t be disappointed.