Like so many other people in this world, Twitter was the conduit that brought Bella and I
together. I don’t really remember how, but I do recall thinking that she was one of the few “real
women” bloggers who maintained an authentic voice. She’s also a champion of
#secondhandfirst who inspired me to spend an entire year only shopping the second hand
market (yes, this means I missed out on a few of those Target collabs but surprise! many of the
pieces turned up in my local second hand haunts). I recently chimed in on a second hand first
link up and she reached out for a guest post.
I will assume you all are sick to death of those “how to thrift” posts, but I loooove the
second hand market and wanted to share that passion. Something new (to me) that I’ve totally
jumped on the bandwagon with are estate sales and online estate auctions. So without further
ado, here’s a little list on “how to shop estate sales/online auctions”!
1. Find out where they are. This may sound a little obvious, but just like sniffing out new
thrift stores, you will have to do a little digging to find estate sales and online auctions
that are worth the hassle. Start your search online with Google and Craigslist using buzz
words like “estate sales/online auctions in (your area).”Google is great for finding
general places or companies while Craigslist will help you find physical sales for the
upcoming week/weekend. Once you’ve found an online auction or estate sale company,
make sure to sign up for their newsletters to stay in the know of what’s happening
2. Prepare to persevere. Whether you are looking through listings on an online auction or
poking through bedrooms in a physical sale, get ready to sort through a ton of junk. You
will come across more paintings and china than you care to look at, but sort through
online listing carefully and make sure to move items around if you are in person. It can
take some time, but the true treasures are worth the hunt.
3. Examine closely. Estate sales and online auctions have no return policy. Once that card
is swiped or cash handed over you are the proud owner of whatever trinket or trendy
item you had to have. If there are hinges, move them. If they are clip on earrings, make
sure they will stay clipped on (learned this lesson the hard way). Make sure there are no
visible cracks, wearing, tears, holes, spots, pieces, etc. Do the sniff test. Try it out, turn it
over. You can find quality pieces for a fantastic price, but if it doesn’t work, it’s not so
4. Know your limit. One of the great things about online estate auctions are the prices.
That being said, things can get pretty expensive pretty fast. Think eBay times ten. Know
your max limit for any item and stick with it. Once you pass that limit, it no longer
becomes a deal and you will spend more time regretting the purchase than enjoying it.
The same can be said for in person sales. Set a limit and sift through your picks to stay
within that limit.
5. Do the heavy lifting. If you make it to a sale, brave the people, wait out the line, or buy
something hefty in an estate sale/online auction, get ready for more work because you,
my friend, will be packing up all those gold rimmed wine glasses you just had to have or
moving that humongous headboard that is your destiny. Also make sure you have plenty
of bags, boxes, a tarp, bungee cords and/or rope to pack and secure your purchase(s). If
you can swing it, bring a burly back up as well, because most places don’t include those
(for lifting of course).
Photos show all items I have gotten at estate sales, or acquired from thrift stores and consignment shops.
Sydney Page Lester blogs at Chic Stripes, works with personal styling clients, and helps save the world through nonprofit grant writing. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or good old email.