If you have been reading for awhile, you know how much I love a good estate sale. Pretty much every awesome find in my home has come from an estate sale. I often hear people say “they wished they went to estate sales but don’t know how to find the good ones”, or “I don’t know how to shop them, and then all the good stuff is gone”. I have been wanting to craft a two-part series on estate sales to address these issues for awhile now, and that is exactly what the next two days will be. Today I am starting with “How To Find Estate Sales” and tomorrow will be “How To Shop Estate Sales”. There are definitely some tricks of the trade that you can only learn if you have been going to estate sales a long time, or you get lucky and someone tells you. (Like you.)
I have shopped estate sales as a dealer and a layperson, and I will let you in on exactly what I do and exactly what people like me do to find the best stuff. There is an art, you might say, to being a successful estate sale shopper.
I am publishing this post on a Wednesday because Wednesday is an awesome day to look for estate sales and plan out your trek for Friday. Most estate sales start on Friday, but a few may start on a Thursday so Wednesday is a great day to look for sales. You could look for example on a Monday, but sometimes people have not posted pictures or even decided to have a sale by Monday.
Before I even start looking for estate sales, I get out a piece of paper and a pen. You will want this so you can keep track of where you want to go and why. Typically, I have a line for each estate sale with this information:
Day it opens and what time
Forms of Payment – If they only accept cash, this will usually be noted in the sale description, and I will make sure to bring cash with me. I always take a credit card and checkbook with me when I estate sale, but I do not always carry cash.
What I was interested in
This may sound overly specific, but sometimes estate sales run together when you are searching for them, and if you keep track of notable sales while you are looking, you will save time rather than having to go back later.
Here is the precise order of places I go to look for estate sales.
Estatesales.net is the most concise website I have found for estate sales nationwide. I like to go to estate sales even when I travel sometimes, and I have always found it to be a great source. You can enter your zip code and get an email of where estate sales will be in your area, or you can just go to the site and click on your area each week like I do.
So first, obviously, I click on Texas.
Then I enter my zip code. (you can also click on the link to your city, but I like to just use my zip)
Once you press “Search”, you will have a list of estate sales come up.
Now in my area, there were 67 estate sales, and that can be overwhelming. How do I choose, how do I choose??!! This is what I do…I have three or four zip codes I restrict myself to most of the time. If I didn’t do that, I would run around everywhere, and I did for a long time. Now I pick the best sales out of my favorite zip codes and go there. Occasionally, I do break my rule if there is something awesome out a little farther for myself or a client. Estate shopping can be really fun so don’t make this hard!
24/7 estate sales is my second stop in my search for estate sales. Now this seems more like a regional site, but if you live close to Texas or Oklahoma, this will be helpful for you.
This site has several nice features, but I have only used the estate sales search.
First, click on the “more info” link near the Estate Sales box on the far left of the home page.
Then a list of estate sales will pop up.
I usually scan this list for sales in my city, but I will look elsewhere too from time to time. Click on the link to read the sale description and see the pictures.
Some of you may not know our buddy Craig not only houses treasures waiting to be snatched up, he also lists estate sales. Here’s the thing about CL estate sales though…some of them are awful. My pet peeve is when someone lists an estate sale, and you get there and realize it is really a glorified garage sale. BUT. Oftentimes, some of the smaller estate sale companies that may not have the budget for nice estatesales.net or 24/7estatesales spreads, will use CL to list their sale. There are gems to be found here sometimes at great prices, so it is a risk you take.
Finding estate sales via Craig is fairly easy.
Type in “estate sale” in the search box.
You can narrow down the list if you want by clicking your specific city at the top of the page.
An important little box to click is where it says “newest” at the top right of the page. CL automatically defaults to “relevant” which is not helpful because you want to know about estate sales happening THIS weekend, not two weeks ago.
Once you click that “newest” box, you should be able to see an ordered list of sales coming up in your area. You will get people that just put “estate sale” in their listing even though they are selling a gun cabinet only (see above photo), and that’s annoying, but you get the idea.
4. Local Paper (For me, this is http://www.star-telegram.com/)
I know, I know, the paper is actually useful for those of you that are “all digital”. But if you don’t take the paper, you can still get estate sale info on your local paper’s site usually.
To find estate sales through Star Telegram, I click on “Classifieds” in the black box.
Then you get to this page, and notice there is a “Garage Sales” section, but don’t look there.
Scroll down to the category called “Stuff”. There you will see the Estate Sales section. Click on that, and you will get your info.
This list even comes with a map. : )
Not all estate sale listings have photos, but of the ones that do, it is a good idea to really search the pictures. The funny thing about estate sale companies is many do not know what they have. They may take a prominent photo of some ugly cabinet and ignore the Gracie wallpaper panels in the background. All that to say, it pays to really look at the photos.
Of course, you can always do it the old school way of driving through older, nice neighborhoods on a Friday or Saturday morning and look for signs. I will occasionally do this, but if you want a more sure fire way of finding sales, use the above four avenues.
Tomorrow’s post…“How To Shop Estate Sales”. See ya then.
Oh, and get to looking! I started a little list myself while writing this post. : )
I would love to hear if this article has been helpful for you. Maybe finding estate sales is a little less intimidating now that you have a plan???