Sep 15, 2009

How to get the most from estate sales

Intro: Tonight LoveCharles is featuring a guest blogger! Suzanne has a lovely shop over on etsy and is a huge fan of all things vintage. She has written a helpful list of getting the most out of an estate sale. (In the next couple weeks Suzanne is also going to be hosting a giveaway, so stay tuned for that!)

I'm an estate-sale fanatic – not only to find retro goodies for my Etsy shop, but also because I'm fascinated by the old homes they're often held in. So, how can you maximize the time you spend going from sale to sale?

Plan ahead
I start by looking at, a nationwide network of estate sales. It's the motherlode of listings, all arranged by date. Each listing has a map link and photos, so you can judge if it's worth the trip. Don't email the seller to ask about prices; they're too busy getting ready. Check Craigslist, and refine your garage sale search with the word "estate" to narrow it down. Read listings carefully; some people just throw the word "estate" in to lure customers. Map out the sales so you don't waste gas.

Bring it. Some professional sellers take credit cards if you spend over a certain amount, but they may charge you for using your card. I always give myself a budget and go home when the cash runs out, which helps me be more discriminating.

You're shopping for vintage clothes, but there's nowhere to change. Wear stuff you can easily slip items over, like a tank top and leggings. On the other hand, I always like to have pockets available. Which brings us to tip number four…

Travel light
Some sellers don't allow bags or purses into a sale. Besides, you need both hands free to examine and grab the goods! Keep cash and keys on you and lock the rest in your car. If you're on foot, you'll want to carry a tote, but you'll probably need to ask if you can leave it with the cashier.

Know how to negotiate
At some sales, everything is discounted on the last day, sometimes only the last few hours. On the other hand, you'll find the biggest assortment on the first day of a sale. You might get a discount if you buy several things. Smile and be polite when you ask. Approach whoever looks to be in charge and quietly ask if they can lower the price on your items; they don’t necessarily want everyone in the house knowing that they're giving you a deal.

Remember, what you're seeing at a sale is probably one of a kind; if you like it, grab it – or someone else will!

-Sunny is an obsessive estate-sale shopper and lover of all things vintage. Sometimes she drags her husband with her, which can backfire if he blows her budget on model cars. Find her at


  1. Super awesome post! I picked up a great find at an estate sale when I visited my father last month :)

  2. What did you find, JLR? You can't keep us all wondering!

  3. GREAT! I still have yet to be to an estate sale..these are very helpful tips!

  4. This is a fantastic post! I've still never made it to an estate sale, so you've motivated me!

    Unfortunately, there aren't any on that site for my area, but I'll find one!!!