Over the weekend, we got a chance to host Jenn Blake of Scout Vintage Rentals for an Apartment Therapy Design Evening. Jenn was on hand to chat about her inspirations in vintage design as well as to hand out a few tips and tricks for estate sale "scouting" to eager folks while they sipped their wine and nibbled at cheese and treats.
As owner of Scout Vintage Rentals, a vintage and antique rental company in Seattle, Jenn knows that estate sales can be daunting to the inexperienced, and as a wealth of knowledge on the subject, she was ready to share. Plus, we were there to take some notes for the Apartment Therapy readers. Please add some if you have any secrets to tell, as well. Enjoy!
1. Take a buddy. Having extra arms to carry your finds and extra eyes to find them amongst all of the junk is a plus.
2. Plan ahead if possible. Look at photos online of items for sale (if available) to discern the value of the trip and find other sales in the same area to swing by.
3. Show up early. Most estate sales start between 8am and 9am with people camped out and waiting, often since as as early as the night before!
4. The first day of the sale is always the best. If you find something you love, don't wait. Although some sales offer discounts on second and third days, if the piece is amazing, it will be gone by then.
5. Seek out the sign-up list and add your name. Most estate sales now have shopper-initiated "sign-up lists" with first-come, first-serve slots in line. These lists can be tricky and are sometimes taped onto unpredictable places like poles, mailboxes, even bushes!
6. Which bring us to our next point: BYOP. Bring-your-own-pen. Sometimes shoppers won't lend you a pen to sign up on the list. (It's a competitive game at estate sales!) Bring your own pen to make sure you get on that list.
7. BYOB: bring-your-own-bag/box. Estate sales will rarely have bags or boxes around to help you carry your goods to the car. Make sure you're prepared.
8. Bring cash! Often, estate sales will not accept credit cards or checks, and may not know where a nearby ATM is located.
9. Don't forget about tax. Sometimes tax is charged at estate sales, and sometimes not, but keep in mind that your total amount due might increase.
10. You carry it around, you buy it. Carrying an item around an estate sale while you decide whether or not you wish to purchase it is as good as buying it. Estate sale cashiers are usually tallying up your items as you shop and will be irritated to see you leave without buying the item that someone else could have snagged while you were deciding.
11. Don't be afraid to ask questions or ask for receipts. It's your money and yours to use as you see fit - don't be intimidated.
12. Be aggressive and don't be afraid to get dirty or dig. Unless it's marked "PRIVATE," open drawers, closets and cabinets to see what you can find. Don't let any of the other shoppers push you around. You have as much right to be there as anyone else.
13. There is not usually any bartering on the first day of an estate sale but there is no harm in grouping items and requesting a deal if you are an early bird. The bartering will come into play on the 2nd and 3rd days of the sale and you can usually get up to 50% off if you try. Read the fine print of the ad and follow those rules.
14. And last, but certainly not least mdash; be nice. Even if other shoppers are being pushy and rude, stand your ground and maintain a good attitude. It never hurts to be pleasant and may help during bargaining.
(Images: 1. via Scout Vintage Rentals, 2. Andie Wurster of Assemble Gallery & Studio.)