I have learned a few things from attending my fair share of Estate Sales. This post is specifically for those buying furniture and is part of series of post about buying furniture for your own furniture painting or refinishing business. It also applies to others as well, this is just what I have experience with.
To start out, here are a few piece I have purchased from Estate Sales and painted to sell:
Deep Blue Cabinet: purchased for $86.
This piece was bought by my neighbor at the same sale at the cabinet above. I then painted it for her. Bought for $100.
White waxed milk paint bar cabinet: bought for $80
1. Show up early. Like, earlier than you think, especially if there is something you really want to purchase. The hardcore estate sale attendees show up a few hours before sales start. Sometimes 3 hour, 2 hours or 1 hour. These are usually the people who own and run antique booths. They come for the small items (so glad most don’t compete with me for furniture!) and the collectible items (and some come from far away). That doesn’t mean you don’t’ need to show up early if you are not buying smalls because most likely, other people want the same great item you want.
2. When you show up check the door or ask for the sign in sheet and then sign in. Most sales I have been to post a sign up sheet on the door to record the order of the people who showed up for the sale. If the company does not provide one someone else will usually start one. When the sale starts the company calls people based on the sign up sheet and only lets a certain number in at at time to control the chaos.
3. Wear the right things. If it’s rainy, have a rain coat or umbrella. Have hot tea or coffee to stay warm if it’s cold, and wear comfortable shoes. You may be standing in line for a while in an outdoor, uncovered area before the sale starts, so come prepared. A friend or something to entertain you is also nice so you stand around aimlessly bored out of your mind. If you don’t plan on showing up early, then your shouldn’t have to worry about this.
4. Bring blue tape and a sharpie. This is what the experts do. Don’t show up without it and stand around like, “uh…” (that was me). Write your name and “sold” (just a name usually works) multiple times on the tape. You can also rip pieces off and stick them to the backside of your hand. So this is how it works, people enter, find what they want, and stick the tape on the piece to claim it as theirs. This is really helpful if you are alone and can’t stand by and claim multiple things at one. Now, this is for medium and larger items that are hard to carry around. Don’t do it on little tiny things. Also, don’t just put tape on everything if you are not really gong to buy it. You may make someone or the company miss out on a buy or sale, and that’s not nice. Be respectful.
5. Bring a reusable grocery bag. This is good to hold the small items you want to buy while you shop and help to carry them out once you purchase them. Not all sales offer bags to carry the items you buy, so come prepared.
6. When you attend a sale I recommend you bring cash. Even though many estate sale companies accept credit cards you can avoid fees with cash and sometimes negotiate a better price if you have the cash in hand.
7. If you want to negotiate, don’t do it on the first day. Most places will not negotiate at all on the first day of the sale. I will say that price estate sales that are not put on by a company will be more open to negotiating. Overall, second and third days are your best bet if you are wanting a lower price.
8. Most items are half off on the last day. They want everything gone and want to make money on as much as possible. Just because you are not able to attend a sale on the first day does not mean it’s not worth going. I’ve found great things for amazing prices on the last day. Just know that you should show up early on the last day because people may be waiting in line to snag that item they have been eyeing for half off.
9. If you own a furniture business, bring your reseller’s permit. Many estate sale companies will keep this on file if you have been before, but using it will save you on sales tax. Be sure you only use it if you will be selling the item as part of your business.
10. When buying larger pieces have transportation available and with you. Once you purchase an item you will need to take it with you or pick it up in a few hours. It’s best to have a large vehicle with you so you don’t have to come back or have to borrow a friends vehicle.
11. One of my favorite things to do is bundle. Whether it is multiple of the same item or just a large amount if items, offer a bundle price for everything. When added up individually your purchase may be $57, but offer $50, or $45 for everything. This also works if you are trying to negotiate on one piece, but are also interested in something else. Offer or ask for a bundle price for buying multiple pieces.
Estate sales are great places to look for furniture. I like these sales because there is usually more than once piece available. You could end up with multiple pieces, or if someone else snatches the one you were eyeing, you have more options. Do you have any tips to add? Share them in the comments! I definitely don’t know everything when it comes to Estate Sales and there’s always more I can learn.