How to Find Great Items at an Estate Sale in Santa Barbara


Estate Sales are a guilty pleasure. They provide a great way to rummage through the past and see how people lived, what they collected, and what they loved. It’s a history lesson and a small glimpse of the past. Estate Sales provide a dual purpose. It cleans out a house that desperately needs to be emptied and provides goods for resellers, antique dealers and Ebayers alike. There are items like photographs, postcards, old kitchen utensils, tableware and figurines. Household items like quilts, bedspreads, linens, china, glass and much more can be offered.

It often makes families sad to let things go after the passing of a family member. Once you take what’s important to you, the rest is just stuff, material things. You can’t take it with you and as a family member you can’t keep it all either. An estate sale is a great way to dispose of goods and offer them for sale. While one would like to think that “regular people” are customers of estate sales, the fact is, the majority of people at any given sale are dealers of some sort. As the person hosting the sale, that is an important factor in how items are priced. If you price so that a profit can be made, things will fly out the door. If not, there will be plenty of things left to haul out or put in storage. You may end up having to throw something away that you could have made a few bucks on. I hope you enjoy some of my fun secrets to finding great things at Estate Sales.

Where are the Sales? Estate sales are everywhere. Check all your local papers including the freebies. Some sales will be listed in one paper and not another. New websites are popping up all over the place to advertise sales. You can join our mailing list to receive updates anytime we host an estate sale. There is also a certain classified website started by a man named Craig, where you can find house sales and lots of items for sale. Do your research and you may come across a sale others haven’t seen.

Go Where Others Do Not: Estate Sale companies generally put all the “good stuff” in the front room by the cash out area where they can keep a good eye on it. I find that while everyone is rushing towards those items, be the first one into the basement or kitchen where lesser known or demand items wait for you.

Pick It Up Quick: If you like it and are interested in it, pick it up. If you don’t, believe me when I tell you someone else will. They will have no trouble snatching it out from under your nose.

Get There Early: In our area you have to be the early bird to catch the worm. Dealers wait for hours to get into sales first. While it isn’t always completely necessary in order to get a good deal, it can help.

Get there Late: Don’t think everything is gone the last day of a sale. Prices will become negotiable and what was once about making a profit becomes about clearing out a house. Many companies host bag sales and 50% to 75% off the last day.

Educate Yourself: You can’t know everything about everything, no one can. Pick an area of items you are interested in and learn all you can. For example, all estates have a kitchen. What type of old kitchen items are in demand? Surprisingly, coffee makers, small appliances and kitchen tools can command good prices and shouldn’t be overlooked. I guarantee this isn’t what the average antique dealer is looking for. Obscure areas are best and where you’ll find the least amount of competition. Garages are another great example. Who doesn’t have tools? Find out what tools bring cash and educate yourself on them.

Stay Away from the Obvious: Everyone knows McCoy and Roseville are popular collectibles and they are usually priced accordingly. While everyone else is fighting for the more common and obvious things, educate yourself on marks that aren’t so obvious. Work on learning about good pottery that is unmarked for instance or the maker name that is represented by a symbol. It gives you a foot up on your competition.

Keep it Clean and Honest: There is a lot of bickering, pushing and shoving at sales. Stay out of it and put yourself above it. Getting a reputation as a trouble maker with an estate company will get you banned by all the companies. They talk amongst themselves and spread the word. No item is worth being blackballed or even subjecting yourself to that sort of nastiness. Theft is a common occurrence in some areas. It just hurts the industry and wrecks a good time for everyone.

Be Respectful: Sometimes even though a company may host a sale, family members will come. Keep your opinions to yourself if you don’t like something. No family wants to hear what you think of their Precious Moments collection especially if you are saying it’s worthless junk. It’s just rude and cruel and don’t forget that you don’t know who is listening. You have been invited in to purchase what you are interested in. If you aren’t interested, walk away and thank them for the opportunity.

Good luck in your Estate Sale endeavors. We hope you can use some of our tips to come out on top!

Original article posted on Ebay


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