Top 10 Tips for Shopping Estate Sales Found and Forged NW www.foundandforgednw.com

10 Tips for Shopping Estate Sales

April 12, 2017



I’m in a new city as of the beginning of last year.  With our move, all of my known and “go-to” thrifting haunts were not accessible anymore.  All the estate sale company emails I got were now too far away for me to partake…and so, I am now finding myself researching new sales, stores and bargain spots so I can stock my space and BARN (!!!) with the very best treasures to pass on to my fellow hunters.

My mind was going through my mental checklist of how to handle the world of estate sales and I thought I would pass along my list of my…

10 Tips for Shopping Estate Sales

1. Bring your own blue tape and a sharpie

Although this is not always allowed, it’s a good idea to bring your own roll of blue masking tape to mark a large item as “sold” while you continue to shop.

For instance, If you see a table that is a must have, simply tear off a piece of your blue tape, mark it as SOLD, add your name and then keep shopping.  This blue tape doesn’t ensure that another buyer will come along, rip the tape off and purchase for his or herself, but at least you can have some type of temporary “hold” while you go get a sale worker to help you get it to the hold area so you aren’t wasting time waiting near the item.

2.  Bring coffee and a book

Estate sales, at least for the die-hards, mean early mornings and long lines.  It is worth your time to go a little earlier to grab a coffee and your latest book so you can sign your name on the door sign-up, park within eye sight, sit in your car and enjoy a peaceful morning before the madness ensues!

3. Have a list of multiple items you are interested in

One of my hard and fast rules for estate sale-ing is to make sure I have a somewhat hefty list of items I am interested in before I make the time commitment to physically go to the sale.  I always search for sales online (Estatesales.org, Estatesales.netYardsalesearch.com and Craigslist) and look through the numerous posted pictures to see what peaks my interest.  If I only see one or two items of interest, it’s not worth my time.  I could wait outside for 2 hours only to have my one interesting item go out the door right before my eyes in the first  10 minutes of the sale.  Look through the pictures and make a list so you can make the trip worth your while and focus on the items you want while you are there.

4. Bring cash

Many established Estate Sale companies accept credit cards, but unless it is explicitly stated, cash is gold at garage, yard and estate sales.  It’s best and safest to pull cash out and have it ready at the sale.

5. Bring your Reseller License

If you are a reseller, make sure to bring your reseller license with you to every sale so that you can make your purchases exempt from sales tax.  Learn how to get your reseller license here.

6. Make a pile and bring a tote

Every sale I have been to has a hold area, usually up by the check out line.  Keep your hands free and your momentum going by creating a pile and keep moving!  A tote can help you hold the small items so you don’t have to keep running back and forth to the entrance.

7. Go through the house at least twice

I always do a full run through of the home right away, not spending excessive time in any one room.  After I feel like I have seen everything the estate has to offer, I go back through the whole house in the opposite direction.  I am constantly surprised at the gems I find on my second or third run through that I had simply missed on my first go-round.

8. Negotiate on the 2nd day of the sale

The first day of the sale it is most likely considered taboo to negotiate on price.  This is usually advertised at the sale on the websites.  On the second day, negotiating is perfectly acceptable.  On the last day of the sale, I would suggest making a pile and offering a flat fee for the whole pile.  At that point, the sellers are usually eager to get rid of the goods.

9. Carry on your person until you are SURE

Make sure to carry whatever peaks your interest on your person until you are absolutely sure you want to buy it.  Once you put the item in the hold area, it is not good etiquette to not buy at the end of the day.

10. Work opposite of the flow

There is usually a rush at the door at the beginning of the sale.  I have also noticed that “the herd” tends to migrate to the right after they enter.  I suggest heading left. My best finds usually come from the garage or basement.  These are the rooms I try to get to first.  Stay away from the crowd’s migration pattern for both the best finds and a less stressful shopping experience.

I’m heading out to the sales this weekend!

Let me know what you look for at the estates below…any frustrations or primo tips you’ve experienced while treasure hunting?

xo Jordan

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  • loklfok58 April 12, 2017 at 7:30 PM

    This is fabulous! I have never been to an estate sale, but now I want to go. You make it sound exciting. Part of me feels frightened by the whole process. It seems

    • loklfok58 April 12, 2017 at 7:34 PM

      It seems cutthroat. I guess it could be exciting and/or scary depending on the other people. These are practical tips for estate sale newbies though that I will keep in mind. Thanks.

    • Jordan April 17, 2017 at 10:57 AM

      Hey there! I have found that the process is a tad overwhelming at first…but I would suggest going to an estate sale on a Sunday (typically the last day of a sale) and getting your feet wet that way. Few crowds, less “stuff” and better deals 🙂 Let me know when you go!

  • Rhonda April 12, 2017 at 7:31 PM

    Hi Jordan! I love your website and the idea of turning your passion for finding things and turning it into a business. Estate sales are big in our area as well, but I’ve never been to one. Do you ever go to antique stores? That is also big here in Texas. Do you sell your finds online or only at your barn? You have some awesome ideas. I wish I lived closer to your area where I could check out your barn. Sounds wonderful! Keep up the great work.

    • Jordan April 17, 2017 at 11:01 AM

      Hi Rhonda! So nice to e-meet you:) I would absolutely try checking out an estate sale in your area! If you go the 2nd or 3rd day of the sale, it’s a nice way to experience a sale without the crowds! I sell out of the barn and at a few local sales and am in the process of selling some smaller items online or through Instagram. If you follow us on Instagram, I will be posting sale items on there: foundandforgednw

      I was actually born in Texas! How funny! We only lived there for a bit, but have always wanted to go back and visit xo

  • Pat Bateman April 12, 2017 at 9:28 PM

    Cool tips Jordan. I too am a stickler for deals hehe. How can i find out about estate sales in my area? is there like a website or resource? How do you find out about them?

    • Jordan April 17, 2017 at 11:03 AM

      Hi Pat! A stickler for deals…amen brother! 🙂 I would go to estatesales.net and yardsalesearch.net and sign up for those email alerts. Craigslist is another go-to for me. Best of luck!

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