Coffee heat rising

Estate Sale Coup

Can you believe I found this at an estate sale?

La Maya and I were doing some recreational estate-saling the other day when we came across this throw at an otherwise unexceptional site.

Said she: “This looks hand-made.”

“Couldn’t be,” said I. “There’s another one over there, across the room, just like it. They must be convincing machine-made replicas from China.”

About then, along comes the lady who’s running the sale.

“The owner,” says she, “sits in front of the television and knits these as a hobby. She says it’s her ‘therapy.’ She just keeps making them, and she wants to get rid of them. She’s selling them for what the materials cost.” The price was $35.

On closer inspection, you could tell that $35 really was about her cost. The wool is very nice—extremely soft and warm. The throw above doesn’t appear to have been blocked, but it would be easy enough to do that yourself with a flat piece, and probably wouldn’t cost much to have it done professionally. The work is very nice…

There were four of them scattered around the house. I wish I’d bought more than one now, to give one as a gift. My mother used to knit and crochet—she was very good at it. And while buying the yarn was a lot cheaper than buying a hand-knit sweater at a shop, for sure good wool costs something.

At any rate, it’s going to be wonderful next winter, when the inside of the house gets chilly. I can’t wait to curl up on the sofa under it.

You, Too, Can Score This Loot!

Estate sales generally are better than yard sales. They happen when someone dies, moves, or just decides to clear out a lifetime’s collection of stuff that’s too good to give away for free. These days, foreclosures make for an ongoing bonanza. You can prospect online at this site: just click on your state and then your city for a list of upcoming sales. Estate sales are conducted by professionals who are in the business of organizing housefuls of junk and pricing the goods to sell. Often these outfits will post photos, so you get a good feel for whether a sale has anything to offer that interests you.

Just now I’m looking at one that pictures a practically new front-loading washer & dryer set, a high-end stainless-steel dishwasher, and a stainless-steel bottom-freezer fridge with French-style doors. These people are also selling what looks like an antique love seat upholstered in pristine gold brocade fabric, if that’s your taste.

Many of the dealers maintain e-mail lists. If you find a dealer that consistently has good sales and good prices, ask to be included on their list—they will send you notices of upcoming sales, often with photos. There’s an outfit here, for example, called Angels in the Attic. They must be somewhat selective about what jobs they’ll take on, because almost all their sales have at least some interesting items, and their prices are generally very reasonable.

Try it. You’ll like it!


6 thoughts on “Estate Sale Coup”

  1. Good stuff. I took a look through the page and have bookmarked it. I’ve never been to an estate sale. I guess my fear is that they would be very busy and all the ‘good stuff’ would be snapped up by the pros before anybody had a chance to mull things over.

  2. @ Money Beagle: It’s good to get there early, if you want a shot at the best stuff. Antique and second-hand dealers show up at opening, and if a place is REALLY good, they grab everything in sight within minutes.

    Strangely, though, often neat stuff remains, hours after the sale starts.

    Also, the recession has redounded to the benefit of us amateur estate-sale shoppers. Dealers are buying less, because they have a hard time moving their inventories. For a while there, La Maya and I would show up as dawn cracked and we’d be the only people on the doorstep. At last week’s sale, about a half-dozen people were there when the sale opened. I’ve seen lines of 20 to 50 people, though.

  3. It’s so strange–I hate estate sales (b/c of the driving around, usually for nothing…) but love thrift stores (I have an excellent one close by). I think I would like estate sales more if I had a companion–sadly, no frugal pals here.

  4. I know that as soon as I do purchase my own little house, I’ll be checking out estate sales for appliances. Why buy brand-new full cost appliances, when slightly used ones are available for much less!? Thanks for sharing the link.

  5. Thanks for telling us about that website. I found that there are two estate sales this weekend in my neighborhood. Didn’t have any thing I need today but maybe next time.

  6. @ Bucksome Boomer: If you can find the dealers who mount photos on their sites, you often can tell whether the sale offers anything that interests you.

    Estate-sale shopping, like yard-sale shopping, is a matter of serendipity.

    La Maya searched over a period of several months for a dining table & chairs for her vacation home. She has a large family and so needed a big table with six or eight sturdy chairs that did not offend the eye. I was with her when she rejected several candidates. But finally she found EXACTLY what she was looking for, a really handsome table with plenty of room for everybody. It’s worth waiting until you find what you want.

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