Friday, March 23, 2012

Learning from the masters

For the last few Saturdays, I have been learning from the masters.

I've always been a thrift store diva. I get a lot of clothes at thrift stores. I also get household items at thrift stores. For awhile, I was picking up mid-century items for pennies on the dollar and re-selling them at an antique store where I had space.

I've been wanting to branch out into auctions, estate sales, tag sales and garage sales for some time. But I decided I would need a mentor. Someone who could teach me the ropes, keep me from paying too much, help me to navigate through the crap to find the gems. Basically, someone who knows all about going through dead people's houses (the quote "going through dead people's houses" comes from Cheryl Wheeler's song "Estate Sale"; check out the YouTube video above; it says it all!]

My dear friend Eileen has been doing estate sales, auctions, tag sales, and garage sales for years, very successfully. I covet so many of the wonderful things she has found over the years. In particular, I covet two vintage folding card table sets that she found at a tag sale or auction. They are mid-century, real wood, blond and beautiful. They look like they belong in a Florida room in Hollywood, Florida. She only gets them out when we have euchre night at her house, but I adore these sets and desperately want one of my own.

Even though it's March in Ohio, because the weather has been so fabulous the sales have already begun. But how do I go about deciding which sales to go to? How far will I drive? What day should I go to a tag sale or estate sale? Here's a list of helpful hints I have learned from the masters, Eileen and her husband Brian.

Target Your Search--On Friday nights, Eileen and Brian are already hard at work going through the ads on Craigslist and in local papers to see what is happening on Saturday morning. They comb through pictures on Craigslist and, where pictures are absent, lists of items being sold to determine if the sale is worth going to. We all have certain things we're looking for: trains for Brian, china and small furniture pieces for me, jewelry or beading supplies for Eileen and me, etc. In full sale season, there are way too many sales to go to. Targeting your search helps you narrow the field of which sales to attend.
Know Your Neighborhoods--This is something that you only gain from experience. Eileen and Brian know what neighborhoods produce good sales from years of doing this. They also know which estate sale brokers have good sales. Hopefully, this wisdom will eventually come to me, but for now, I just follow their lead. What I've noticed is this: wealthy neighborhoods don't necessarily produce good sales. They might over-price their stuff, or they might have million dollar houses and cheap dime-store taste in furnishings. Yikes! Also, real moving sales can be a great place for really good deals. If they are serious about "everything must go," they are ready to negotiate prices big time.

Map Out Your Route--Once they have determined which sales we're going to, they print out detailed maps and an itinerary so we know which sales we're going to first and exactly what our route will be.

Be Flexible--Once the real garage sale season hits, you'll see signs along the way to other garage sales that were not listed or advertised. Don't be afraid to deviate from your plan. Eileen and Brian say some of their best finds have come from detours from their itinerary.

Negotiating Is Expected--These days, most people expect you to bargain with them on the prices they have marked at garage sales, moving sales etc. That may not always be the case on tag sales or estate sales. But with those, they usually slash prices on the last day of the sale, so if you are looking for a real bargain, go to estate sales or tag sales on the last day they are held. There isn't as much booty, but they are wheelin' and dealin' to get rid of the stuff that's left.
Eileen found this beautiful perfume bottle
at a garage sale.
I'm planning on going out again this Saturday as long as this crazy Spring weather in March holds.

Check out some of our finds from the last three weeks.
Shelves for my dining room deep enough to hold teapots.
$5 each at a moving sale! I'll definitely be
giving these a makeover.

Beautiful Bavarian and German antique china waiting
to be upcycled into a cake stand or jewelry stand.
$6 for all three.

Contemporary poinsettia plate from Portugal. $1 on the last
day of an estate sale.

Happy sales everyone!

This post has been shared with the following really cool sites:
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  1. What great ideas, I love to go to garage houses on occasion, but I NEVER have a plan, so great ideas! I also love that song, I laughed so hard, I have shared this on my FB page!


    1. Thanks Carlee! And thanks for sharing! Now get out there and go through some dead people's houses!

  2. Hi Peg,
    I have tagged you on my blog - you might want to check it out REAL soon!

    1. Should I be scared? I was always so pitiful at playground games. But I'll try to be brave and pop on over. Thanks for thinking of me!

  3. Oh my gosh... I can't stop laughing at the video!! You have roped me in. I'm your newest follower.
    Ladybug Creek

    1. Thanks for visiting and following Karen! Glad you enjoyed the Cheryl Wheeler video!

  4. I'm not going to be able to get that song out of my head, lol. So cute and funny. I dearly love estate sales and especially estate auctions. You get much better deals at the auction (they have them at the dead people's homes).

    I'm certainly addicted to yard sales, antique flea markets and estate sales. It's always a treasure hunt!

    Enjoyed the post...

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Glenda. I like your blog too. I'm your newest follower!

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. LOL! Definitely a song that sticks in your head... I don't get out to nearly as many sales as I used to, but I've always loved "the hunt". Great tips. Thanks for sharing them!

    1. Glad you enjoyed the song, Mary. I just got back from a hop to your blog. I'm your newest follower! I may need to learn a thing or two about keeping chickens. A friend has asked me to run her B&B for the summer and she keeps chickens there. Thanks for visiting! Hope you'll become a follower! :-)

  7. These are great tips and the song is great too! Thanks so much for sharing at Mix it up Monday :)

    1. Glad you enjoyed the song! Thanks for visiting, Lisa! And thanks for doin' what you do!

  8. I'm laughing at the title as it reminds me of my dad. When he was older so many relatives and friends died he said he was tired of wearing 'dead men's clothes'. I love me an auction! ~ Maureen

    1. Thanks, Maureen. Nice to hear that the video "struck a chord" with you. Thanks for visiting!

  9. Thanks for linking to a Round Tuit!
    Hope you have a fabulous week!
    Jill @ Creating my way to Success

  10. now that is the way to thrift and some great tips! thanks for sharing at Uncommon!

    Bonnie @ Uncommon

    1. Thanks for stopping by Bonnie! And thanks for hosting a great linky party!