I love garage sales and estate sales for different reasons. Garage sales are plentiful most weekends in the spring and summer, with the merchandise on sale priced pretty low. As well, if you don’t like the price of an item, you can always ask the owner if “they can do better.” However, items for sale vary greatly from home to home, and are limited to what the owner is trying to purge. Garage sales are the closest thing to a treasure hunt we can experience in this day and age. You never know what “gem” you’re going to uncover, which makes it exciting as well as financially rewarding.
Estate sales are a little more limited in that there aren’t as many of them in a season, but the whole household is for sale, not just random items. The prices are marked ahead of time, and while there can be some adjustment, especially in the afternoon or on the second day (if the sale is two days), you don’t have as much flexibility with the price. But the price of the item is still way below what you would pay retail for that same item.
Also, depending on the prior owner’s interests and travels, you may find unique one-of-a-kind items that you would normally never be able to purchase locally or even online. I have found some amazing artwork, textiles, furniture, and home décor at estate sales.
The hardest thing about attending an estate sale is recognizing that the person who owned and loved all those things is gone. Most estate sales are conducted on behalf of family members after a loved one has passed away. Sometimes the sales are for people who are alive and maybe just moving out-of-state or downsizing. But it’s hard not to feel a little sad when you are perusing a deceased former owner’s belongings. I always hope that somehow they know that their stuff is being enjoyed and/or appreciated in a new home.
One of the things I to try to purchase at most of the estate sales I attend is a Christmas ornament. Every year when I get my ornaments out, I think about the person(s) who used to own them and wish them a mental “Merry Christmas.” Because someday many of my possessions will go to a stranger’s home to live, and it comforts me to know they will enjoy them as well. As the Lion King says, it’s just the circle of life.
One positive byproduct of attending estate sales is that I have made it my mission to start downsizing my belongings. I have attended some sales (they are usually the two-day ones) where there was so much stuff in the house that I was emotionally distressed just walking through the home.
I’ve never been a hoarder or collector (unless you count my favorite books). But I don’t want my kids to have to deal with tons of my belongings after my passing. I made a goal in January to purge at least 500 things from my home this year, and I am right on track. It might be an article of clothing, a vase, kitchenware, or even furniture, but I have become very ruthless with my stuff. It if isn’t necessary or something that brings me joy, it’s “outta there.”
“Try It, You’ll Like It”
If you’ve never attended a garage or estate sale, you are missing out on one of the primary ways to save money. Don’t let the fact that you are buying used prevent you from getting some great deals. Remember that everything being sold “new” in a store right now was touched, tried on, or sat on by hundreds of strangers. ‘Nuf said.