Have you ever wondered how people always find vintage estate sales with the best items? I'll let you in on my trade secrets!
One of my best-kept secrets when sourcing vintage clothing and collectibles are estate sales! Everyone has caught onto thrifting over the years, making it harder and harder to find amazing and unique vintage pieces. This blog post will go over all of my secret strategies to finding the best estate sales, what to look for, how to know when an estate sale is worth the trip, and my tips to making the most of your estate sale-ing!
Estate sales are sales held typically when someone moves or passes away, and all the items from the person's estate (their home/belongings) are put up for sale. The family or those delegated to manage the belongings of the person who has left things behind may choose to hold an estate sale to raise some money from the items that they aren't interested in keeping. Usually family heirlooms and personal belongings are excluded from the sale, but you can still find a lot of cool things if you're willing to look.
Usually families hire companies that will come in and organize the items for sale, market the estate sale, and manage the exchange of cash for items. Think of estate sales like a huge garage sale, but usually inside the house, and with a whole lot more stuff!
I think that estate sales are a great way to find new homes for all of the things that were left behind, and it helps the family with expenses, so it's a win-win!
So, I kind of touched on this previously, but estate sales are just another great source of collectibles and vintage treasures! Estate sales are a bit different than thrift shops in that prices are somewhat negotiable, and throughout the weekend that the estate sale is held, the prices of items drop from day to day (more on this later!). They're also typically held at a person's residence, similar to a garage sale. Depending on the person whose items are being sold, you can find a lot of cool vintage things! I've been to estate sales of collectors, famous actresses, etc. It really just depends on your luck!
So, my favorite way to find estate sales - and probably the most popular way - is EstateSales.NET. This website makes it super easy to find estate sales in your area. Simply put in your zip code, how far you are willing to drive, and when you want to go. You can also toggle things like type of estate sales.
Another way to find estate sales is Craigslist! This is a lesser-known method, but all you do is put "estate sales" in the search bar and look through the listings. As always, be cautious when browsing Craigslist so as to avoid scams and illegitimate listings, as well as be safe when going to anything listed as an estate sale. I've never had any problems, but just be mindful!
Another way to find estate sales is by checking Facebook Marketplace. Search "estate sales" in the search bar and look through the listings!
When you look for estate sales, there are typically a lot that pop up! My number one tip is to look through the description and the photos to determine if it'll be worth your time. Compare that with how far away the estate sale is to determine your risk versus reward for the trip! For example, if the photos posted for the estate sale make it look like there is a lot of clothing or jewelry, it might be worth a look. A lot of times, when there aren't many items in the photos or it just looks like a couple pieces of furniture, I'll skip it. Sometimes, if I'm in the mood to waste a few hours, I'll go just for fun! You never know what you're going to find. If you're going to make a day of it, you can always drive around your neighborhood/town and there are usually estate sale signs all over! The best is when you find one that wasn't listed on a website, so you'll have it pretty much to yourself!
It's also worth noting that sometimes estate sales are set up as online auctions. I usually avoid these because I like to see the items in person, and the auctions are usually for rare collectibles that I'm not particularly interested in.
Another little tidbit is similar to thrifting in that typically you can find the best treasures for the cheapest price in the fancy neighborhoods! It's not always the case, and you can find cool things everywhere, but I've found designer stuff in the fancy town near where I live!
So the best day to look for estate sales in my opinion is Wednesday. Estate sales are typically held from Thursday-Saturday, sometimes Friday-Saturday or sometimes Sunday. If an estate sale is happening this weekend, it would be posted probably by Wednesday or Thursday.
Another amazing tip I have for you is to be strategic with what day you choose to go to the sale. Typically the first day, everything is full price, but you get first dibs on all the best stuff. The second day is usually 25% off and the last day is typically 50% off everything! I like to mix it up. If I see a photo of something specific I'm super interested in, I will make sure to get over there on the first day. If I'm just looking around, I like to go on Saturdays for 50% off!
For really popular estate sales packed with stuff, be sure to get there before the opening time! There will usually be a line to get in. This goes for estate sales of artists, celebrities, and things like that. If it says it has really good vintage clothing and such, just be mindful that there will be other people wanting to take a look, too.
I have found so many different things at estate sales! Super unique jewelry, quilts and linens, sewing materials, designer clothing, shoes, fabric hangers, cool books, magazines, glassware, furniture, you name it! It's also super fun to see people's decor and homes and appreciate the lives they've lived!
I think employing all the methods that I've mentioned above, just picking estate sales that look interesting to me, finding a good day to go, and keeping an open mind! Sometimes estate sale-ing can be a little bit tougher than thrifting in that it's either a big hit or a big miss, but just take everything in stride! Look through every room, keep your eye open for some cool things, and as funny as it sounds, manifest what you want to find! When I thrift, I truly believe that whatever I am meant to find will find me, so I'm always open to receiving new treasures!