Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Estate Sale-ing

One of my favorite things to do is to visit estate or tag sales. I’d rather go to one of these rather than garage sales. Garage sales, in my experience, are hit or miss. You really never know what you might find inside someone’s garage and driveway.  There’s a lot of time spent driving around from one to the next one.
My choice is an estate sale any day. They are advertised in the Sunday paper along with a list of the most special “goodies” they may have to sell. They can also be checked online and even see pictures.

I took this picture at the most recent estate sale I attended. It was a great one, too. These are few and far between but when you come upon one, it feels like you’ve hit the mother lode.

There’s a very strict protocol. On the opening day of the sale, if it is a “good” sale, it will be flooded with antiques dealers from as early at 3-4 am for a 10 am opening. They absolutely NEVER open before the time stated in the ads. The first person to arrive at the house in the wee hours of the morning and park their car directly in front of the house, makes themselves #1 (of temporary numbers). When the next person arrives, #1 gives that person the #2 chit and so on until it is time for the sale manager to appear and give out the “official” numbers. No one dares leave during the time of early arrival until the sale manager appears at the front door. He/she begins handing out the official numbers, honoring the early arrivals numbers. The sales manager always announces in the ads what time they will be giving out the official  #’s. It could be a half hour or more before the sale starts. Once you have your official # in your hand, you can drive away and get a cup of coffee but most certainly be back in time for opening. I find it doesn’t pay to leave because you lose your good parking spot. I bring the newspaper and other busy work to keep entertained until it’s time to go stand on the doorstep and wait for my number to be called.

The manager usually allows into the house a certain number of people which the sales crew feels they can oversee properly. As the first wave begins to leave, others are allowed in while still maintaining that control of how many people are in the house at one time.

The people who go through this rigamarole are VERY serious about estate sale-ing. Usually antiques dealers. This is practically the only place where they can fill their shops at wholesale prices.

I began this addicting activity when I was decorating my first home. I wanted a shabby chic look, vintage furniture, coziness, warmth, eclecticism, uniqueness, charm, etc. I felt that vintage furniture was more well-made than modern. I wanted wood not plastic. I wanted drawers that the bottoms wouldn’t fall out of.
That accomplished, I began collecting things. What has developed to be my signature collectible is vintage linen. It started, innocently enough. I wanted pretty napkins and tablecloths. I thought my napkins should all have handmade lace edges. Pretty soon, they were coming out of my ears. I knew I needed to do something with all these napkins. I started to make angels from them. The avocation just grew and grew from there.  

Items fashioned from re-imagined household linens are the mainstay of my sammysgrammy etsy shop.

Here's a couple items I reimagined from vintage linen that are in my etsy shop...........Wedding purses


  1. I learned a lot from this post! I had no idea how estate sales were run or why people always got there so early. My sister's best friend has an antique store and she helps her do estate sales. I've never thought to ask about the actual sale day. Very interesting - now I'd like to go to one - early - just to see the action. I've always enjoyed these sales but I'm sure by the time I get there, the prime pieces are gone, but there always seems to be plenty of vintage linens which I have an abundance of also. :)

  2. I didn't know there was such a planned order with estate sales. I can't believe some people come that early in the morning.

  3. This was very interesting! I also didn't know about the whole protocol with estate sales! I have only been to one and happened to come across it while I was coming home from work one day. There wasn't much left because it was so late in the day. After reading this I would like to go to one early just to see what I could discover!

  4. I had no idea about the routine of estate sales! We actually do not have them very often in Alaska to my knowledge. Thanks for the info!

  5. Wow -- what a serious operation. Love your shop and the repurposed lace used in your creations.