The Greatest Estate Sale In The World!

That I didn’t even want to go inside and see. I walked away mad.

The ad online told of the wonderful accomplishments of this fine person. How they had scoured the country for fine antiques. It told of wonderful one of a kind collectibles. They warned in the ad, no phone calls, no early birds, cash only, 8AM sharp start. I was getting kind of excited.

I get to the place, get in line, and they are passing out numbers in line. There will only be 12 people at a time allowed in the house! I was number 37. (I had to stop for gas, and to find an ATM for the cash). So, if there were any good things, and pickers were finding them, I could be out here for an hour or two. They would let another person in, when one left. Within minutes, a couple came out. “Don’t waste your time. it’s only two rooms, and everything is priced way above retail. If you are going to any more sales this morning, you should leave now. This is a waste of time.” Another minute later, one of the regular pickers I know, came out, and had a look of shock, and disgust on his face. “Worst sale I have ever seen!” About this time, six or seven people in line, including myself, left the sale. I was not even curious to see what was inside.

Some people are pretty foolish when putting on a sale like this. Some may invite “appraisers” in to price everything. Nothing sells. Some are so interested in the loved one’s sentimental history of something, they price it higher. Nothing sells. Some print out pages, showing what the same item sells for on Ebay, and tape to the items. Nothing sells. If they want Ebay prices, they should keep the items, and list them, and sell them. Sentimental value cannot be transfered. Fame can be transferred, but it is rare, and only if you have the proof, and provenance.

Ever been to one of these sales? Leave your story here.

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2 Responses to The Greatest Estate Sale In The World!

  1. Kenneth says:

    Hello, I have just found your blog and am thoroughly enjoying it. So far I’ve read all of you’re blog posts and look forward to all future ones. I’ve bookmarked it already!

    The reason I’m so excited about it is because this is something I’ve always been interested in, but have not had the: time/energy/know how or training to know what to look for, sell, pick or otherwise select. My grandmother was a avid collector and she always had these cool little things that I was amazed by but had no idea how she came by them. Sadly she died last year and all of her children sold off her stuff w/out giving the grandchildren the opportunity to keep certain things.

    With that said I am convinced that she had a fortune now that I have done some research online. Either way I am now more than interested in joining this awesome way of life. I haven’t yet purchased your book but I am planning on it. But I was wondering if you could answer a question or two?

    First: As I’ve never been to an estate sale before I do not know what proper etiquette is for how fellow pickers/buyers should act towards each other while going through the sale.

    Obviously I would think one should be courteous and kind, but as you mentioned in one of your earlier blog posts you had one guy follow you around and start picking things you were interested in. That would seem to be a big NO NO.

    Basically does there seem to be a set of unwritten rules that all pickers/buyers tend to abide by? Or is it everyone for themselves?

    Answer: There is not a lot of etiquette really. This is at least in my area of the country. It’s usually a mad dash to get inside, and grab stuff before the other person does. You need to watch your own “pile” of stuff, as people will think it’s available if it’s not in your arms. Books in particular are interesting, as pickers will clear out shelves at a time, and then later go through them to see what they have. With all of the many antique reality shows, it has caused a fervor, newbies mixed up with the regulars. Anyway, it’s still a lot of fun. You will stand outside, in line to go in with “friends” and chat and tell “fishin” stories, and hear tall tales, etc. But when the door is open, it’s every “man” to himself!

    Second: I have quite a bit of experience of selling things on ebay, but I’ve never came close to making a living out of my purchases and re-sales. This is a two part question: Is Ebay the best place to sell your items or should I put more time into developing local business with antique stores and/or set up a bin at a local “Vendors Mall”? How much time is required to set up a modest income? (I’m not a get rich quick thinker here, I know it will be a process)

    The reason I ask about the time is because I spend most of my time volunteering and my wife and I have a small cleaning business on the side that provides our needed income. Because of a recent injury I feel that it would be best for me to find a profession that will still fit my time restraints but will be easier on my health. (Less strenuous work and hours if possible)

    I have searched for answers to these questions online and most are vague and non committal. While I know every situation is different and nobody can guarantee anything I was hoping that someone like yourself, who has a lot of experience in this field could give me more specific answers to these questions.

    Thanks for any help you can provide! Again, thank you for your wonderful blog, it has been a great help to me. I know I will be benefited by your knowledge and insight. If you do not wish to address all of these questions here on your blog I fully understand and you are free to email me if you wish.

    Answer: I used to do the local antiques mall, but the location was bad, and the fees ate up a lot of profit. Ebay changed everything. I do know of some local pickers who do have cases in antiques malls, but they have tons of small valuable interesting things and load the shelves. Several pickers do local shows where they can make thousands of dollars on a three day weekend. Once in a while, during slow picking months, they do their own “estate sales” in their own yard, to clean out stuff. If you have a Brass Armadillo, or another large well run antiques mall, I’d give it a try. Bigger the better. You want traffic, “eyeballs” looking at your stuff. This is why ebay changed everything!

    We have a local TV station with online classifieds, like Craigslist. It’s probably bigger than Craigslist locally. I use it for big stuff too difficult to ship. Be ready to negotiate though, as people will talk you down. I just sold today about 20 buckets of rockhound lapidary rough, (agates, minerals, jaspers, petrified wood, etc) to a local on the TV site. It was listed for eight days, I got $500 for the lot, which was what I asked for, in cash (always ask for cash). I did not need to pay ebay or PayPal any commission, and my wife loves it that the pile is gone!

  2. Patty Moore says:

    Hi. I just found your blog and am enjoying it very much. I will stop reading for now and take the opportunity to vent for a minute about my own experience which is a little like the one you talk about in ” The greatest estate sale in the world”. My husband and I sell on eBay full time and just last Sunday we went to a sale that was described on as something along the lines of “the greatest sale you’ll ever see”. The ad made it sound pretty wonderful so we decided to check it out. We got there about 10 minutes early on the fourth and last day, hoping to find last day bargains. We were told they were “still setting things up” on the last day! and we couldn’t go in early. The lady running the sale said, “Trust me, you’ve never seen anything like this!”. My husband, who is more outspoken than I, told her we had been to a lot of sales and seen some really big ones. But she insisted excitedly that there was no way we had ever seen anything like this and she was sure we never would again. I was wondering how great it could be since it as a fairly new house (1970s) and wasn’t more that 1,200 square feet. But we waited the 10 minutes (we were the only ones there which should tell you something). When we got in, I could see right away that this was just your typical estate sale, there were lots of over-priced dishes but not much else. I happened to overhear two of the employees talking and they had been told that morning that they weren’t going to be paid hourly for working at this sale, as they had been promised, but would have to be paid on commission because the dealer wasn’t selling as much as she thought she would. We walked out with only one purchase, a metal chair that goes with a Just-Rite pressing machine, for $10. I am still amazed that this woman had completely convinced herself (and us with her ad) that this was the best sale in the world. She probably still believes it. It’s too bad her delusion cost us so much in terms of gas and our time. Oh, well, that’s the business we’re in. Thanks for your blog. I will bookmark it and try to keep up with your postings.

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