Okay, probably a bad title. If you go to estate sales...or if you have the desire to go to estate sales, you probably aren't a dummy (although I'm not entirely ruling it out)...BUT, you may be intimidated (I once was). So let's begin again:
Estate Sales for Those Who Are Intimidated by the Very Word Estate but Also Know They're Missing Out on Lots of Amazingness (Part I)
1. Know where to go
The internet is your friend, my friend. I currently use http://www.estatesales.net/, but give me a holler if you know of any other good sites! In smaller towns, the plain, old-fashioned newspaper would also be a good source. I initially thought that the photos posted with the sale listing took away much of the "fun" of estate saling....but then i realized it's pretty awesome to be able to spot an amazing couch and make it to that sale 2 hours before everyone else...as well as to not drive 45 minutes for an "estate" sale that looks less exciting than the worst garage sale you've ever been to in your life, and is using the word estate in like the 18th definition down on the dictionary.com list: Estate, noun, house. Yes, it's at a house; no, that doesn't make it an Estate Sale. Bottom line: look at those pictures, realize they aren't photographing everything, so there may still be some (hopefully wonderful) surprises, but use them as a gauge. Compare all the sales happening the same morning, compare relative locations, and proceed to #2....
2. Make a plan
I'm talking the night before. Okay, or the morning OF if your running buddy cancels on you, you magically wake up at 6:30 AM after being out 'til 3:00 AM, you stumble upon an unadvertised sale in your neighborhood, or you otherwise find yourself available to sale on a Saturday. But, back to Friday night preparations. Decide where you're going. Make a list of addresses. Put them in order of importance and/or location. Backtracking is not advised, but perfectly acceptable should several amounts of amazingness on opposite sides of the city be scouted out the night before. Hit up the ATM. Checks, hecks, even credit cards, are often accepted, but nothing talks like cold hard dolla-dolla bills! Which brings us to the next hint:
3. Flash cash...
ONLY after trying to talk them down. Don't be a jerk about it, but there's usually a little wiggle room in price...maybe not so much at 6:55 AM on the first day of the sale...but often quite a bit late in the day and especially the 2nd, 3rd days of the sale. Keep in mind, lots of sales are 1/2 off EVERYTHING the second day. There are advantages...but don't start crying about the amazing things w/ SOLD stickers on them that obviously sold the day before. I mean, at some point, you *will* cry. Let's be honest. Just make your 1st day/2nd day attendance decision very, very carefully!
I definitely love me some alone time a'saling...the freedom to buy (or even just consider) the most ridiculous things ever, the mobility of skirting around clumps of other people, the freedom to mosey along and/or speed through at your own discretion. BUT there is something to be said for an uninterested-other-than-the-fact-that-he-loves-you husband or other such boy toy (j/k, gentlemen! okay, well mostly kidding!) who is there to simply say "sure," "i like it," and "here's some more cash," oh, and to carry things. large, small, heavy, multiple pieces of furniture....leaving your hands free to dig through boxes of vintage photos, craddle a precious peice of pottery on your way to the check out, etc. *note, often there are boxes/laundry baskets/etc. available UNDER the cash register table where you can stash half your loot while you go searching for the other half...ya know, just in case that man isn't around! *another note: friends and fellow estate sale fanatics are also wonderful companions...but make sure they're the tried and true kind who will load and unload a car 5 times with you until you get it just right so that everything fits and gets to come home with you!...and play nice. if she has similar taste and spots something awesome first....well, i'm not going to tell you how to conduct yourself. hopefully you learned that in middle school....:)
Oh, and about those vehicles you may be repacking and repacking and breaking headrests out of in order to
5. Fit Everything In
The bigger, the better. 'nuff said. And along those lines...there is always/usually a solution...so go with your gut and buy the green velvet sofa and figure out how to get it home later (rent a truck from Lowes for 20 bucks or something...call one of those local "pick up and haul" guys....tie something dangerous on top of your car).
Okay, so that's enough for now. Stay tuned for Part II (and i promise i'll post some pictures somwhere along the way...) For now, a sneak peek: 6. See Potential in Everything; Remain Realistic. (ha, riiiight, you say!)
Be sure to post any questions/stories from your estate sale adventures in the comments!