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Why Shop at Household Sales?
by John Sullivan

Renaissance Household Sales

The popularity of household sales-estate sales and moving sales- is not surprising. The opportunity to buy something at a fraction of its original cost saves people money and often results in obtaining quality merchandise that is not offered in big box stores. Things are not made like they used to be and because of the age of merchandise purchased at household sales, chances are that the buyer is getting a product that was made at a time when manufacturers were not cutting corners.

Furniture is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of quality items that can be found at sales. Affordable, solid wood furniture is available today in high-end furniture stores, but at a premium. Much of what is found out there is fashioned out of pressed wood and veneer. Coffee tables, end tables, dining room tables, dressers, chests, sideboards, desks, and chairs of all styles that come out of homes where an estate sale is being hosted were most likely built in the days when furniture was made out of solid cherry, walnut, oak, and pine. Sometimes these pieces are in pristine condition; occasionally you need to do a bit of refurbishing or refinishing to restore these pieces. But it is worth the time and effort to make them look new again because they’re going to stand up to the test of time. Plus, you’re going to be able to pick up these pieces at prices you can afford.

Renaissance Household Sales

Clothing is another thing that pops to mind when I think of the money you can save by shopping at household sales. Moving sales are particularly good for finding suits, shirts, blouses, pants, dresses, coats, jackets, shoes, belts, stockings, socks, hats, scarves, gloves, and handbags because they’re going to be less vintage than what you can expect at estate sales. (If you’re into vintage, period pieces, costumes, or dress-up clothing for your kids, estate sales are ripe with this kind of clothing!) Some people are squeamish about wearing something that someone else wore, but dry cleaning can resolve that concern. You’d also be surprised at the amount of clothing found at sales that still have their tags-brand new and sold at the fraction of the original price!

Fabric items are usually in abundance at household sales.  You can save tons of money on items such as sheets, pillow cases, blankets, towels, tablecloths, napkins, placemats, curtains, drapes, handkerchiefs, rugs, and carpets. Again, many of these items are new, especially at moving sales, or new enough so that a good washing or dry cleaning will make them as good as new. One note of caution about fabric goods, especially at estate sales…give them a “sniff test” before purchasing. Older fabric merchandise that has been stored for a length of time can develop a musty smell that is difficult to eliminate.

Renaissance Household Sales

Once you begin to peruse the photos on estatesales.net, you will never have to shop in the kitchen department of Walmart, Target, or even Williams Sonoma again. I cannot think of one sale I’ve ever conducted that wasn’t packed with glassware, dishes, mixing bowls, cooking and baking utensils, or pots and pans. While some of these things can look tired at some sales, there are always hidden gems at estate sales and loads of barely used kitchenware at moving sales. I have purchased seldom-used products at these sales just to have them on hand because the prices are so reasonable. I’m talking about things such as Kitchen Aid Mixers, flour mills, meat grinders and other similar things that are not used every day, but might be called upon from time to time.  Sets of formal china can also be purchased at these sales. It is recommended that you do a finger check around the rims of cups and dishes to avoid buying sets with chips. You’re also going to find toasters, waffle makers, roasters, blenders, can openers, cutlery, gravy bowls, condiment holders, and a variety of other goodies at these sales. Sometimes, you can even stock your pantry with spices, baking cups, aluminum foil, canned goods, unopened boxes of pasta and cereal, and paper goods for next to nothing. Just make sure you check expiration dates of food items, including spices.

Collections of things abound at household sales, and those people who love books, records, DVDs, antique glass, figurines, old magazines, dolls,  or more specialized things such as sports cards, miniature vehicles, sports paraphernalia, Betty Boop, Disney products, advertising items (Campbell’s, Coca Cola) are in shopper’s heaven.

Over time, you can purchase enough office supplies to never have to shop at Staples again. Speaking of staples and staplers, I was in the habit of buying every working stapler I could find at household sales until it finally dawned on me that I would never in my lifetime use the 28 staples I had stashed in my office drawers. There’s just something terribly compelling about stocking up on office supplies at a tiny little fraction of what it would cost you to buy them at a store.  I have even stocked up on reams of paper I use in my copy machine.

The best-kept secrets of household sales can be found in basements, attics, and garages. Young parents can find toys and games that were never disposed of because of their emotional attachment. These rocking horses, board games, Lego pieces, and baby toys can be dusted off and reused at, again, a fraction of the cost of buying new. Things such as vases, unused Ball jars, holiday decorations, flower pots, cleaning supplies, arts and crafts supplies, lawn ornaments, old dishes, laundry products, and antique anything can be found in the nooks and crannies in these out-of-the-way areas of a house.

Tools deserve a paragraph of their own because as much as we love browsing the departments at Home Depot and Lowe’s, just about any tool known to man can be found at household sales. I stopped long ago buying brand new rakes, shovels, hoes, wheelbarrows, hammers, screwdrivers, nails, sandpaper, steel wool pads, drills, toolboxes, paintbrushes, wood scraps etc. because I can find what I need at sales. You might even get lucky and find lawn movers, snow blowers, tractors, leaf blowers, edgers, and every other toy you’ve ever wanted to own.  When buying these big-ticket items, make sure you try them out before you buy them because all sales are final at these sales.

In closing this piece on why you should shop at household sales, the best answer is, “Why not?”  Let’s look, however, at specific reasons:

  1. It’s a great way of furnishing a home, especially if you’re a young single person or couple just starting out.
  2. It’s a great way of finding items to add to your collection of ___________.
  3. It’s an economical way of finding that one thing you need for the kitchen, linen closet, or tool shed.
  4. It’s a great and economical way of redecorating a room in your home (or the entire house) by finding just the right lamp, throw rug, soap dish, mirror, piece of art, etc.
  5. It’s a cheap way of stocking up on things you’ll need at some point in the future (light bulbs, vacuum bags, pencils, garbage bags, etc.).
  6. Its fun and dirt cheap entertainment.
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The Psychology of a Household Sale Shopper
by John Sullivan

Renaissance Household Sales

I’ve run many household sales and have been a customer on a weekly basis. I prioritize my household sales’ visits based on the pictures in the ads.

With giddy anticipation, I get into my car on the day of the sale and punch the first address into my GPS. It’s a delightful feeling when the sale is within ten miles of my home because I’m not the patient type.

My heart rate accelerates when I see the line of parked cars on the street of the sale, whose riders are already at the sale. My wish is that a parking valet will rush to my car so I can be in that house without further ado.  That has yet to happen.

Walking towards the entrance to the house envelopes me in a feeling similar to the one I had walking down the stairs of my childhood home on Christmas morning. I cannot wait to see what awaits me under the roof of that house.

I do not need to own one more thing. I have more than enough possessions. I know without a doubt, however, that there will be something in this house that I have to have, and I WILL walk out with it.  There is pure magic in strolling from room to room until that one special item catches your eye as if to say, “I’ve been waiting for you. Buy me now.”

Everything else in the room disappears as I make my way towards my newly discovered treasure. I try to be cool about it so nobody else notices what I am coveting. I know from experience that there are those shoppers lurking about, ready to pounce on my object of desire. They like nothing more than to be able to say, “I got it first.”

I breathe a sigh of relief as I wrap my hand around my trinket. It’s mine now and nobody else is going to have it. Before fighting my way to the cashier’s table, I check to make sure my prize has no cracks or dents or missing parts. My body gets all flushed when I discover that it’s just perfect.

As I walk to my car, I know I must feel as Rocky did the first time he made it to the top step of the Philadelphia Museum. Winners, both of us!

Renaissance Household Sales
Renaissance Household Sales
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Factors that go into Pricing a Household Sale
by John Sullivan

Renaissance Household Sales

Every household sale company has its own method of putting value on the production of a sale. From percentage of sales to flat fees to hourly rates, it is important that these companies make an amount of money that covers their costs and yields a reasonable profit. It is also important for clients to understand the factors that determine the cost of a sale.

Pre-sale preparation varies from sale to sale. I have conducted sales that required two of us working twenty hours each to one that demanded over 150 hours of prep time. What makes the difference? The size of the house, the amount of personal property, the cleanliness of the home, and the existing organization of personal property that needs to be made ready for the sale are all factors that go into determining pre-sale prep time.

Most homes are fairly well organized and require little cleaning. However, property needs to be brought out of closets, china cabinets, drawers, suitcases, and various nooks and crannies to be organized, priced, and displayed so that it’s easily seen and obtainable to customers. While a “picker’s paradise” is fun in theory, the liability that comes with having customers stumble through chaos is just too high. Even the most organized homes require many hours of bringing property out on display, cleaning things, as necessary, and pricing.

There are homes that belonged to people who could never part with anything they ever owned, to people who were avid QVC shoppers, or to people who spent their lives collecting. Think Norman Rockwell, Avon, records, books, leaded glassware, or Christmas paraphernalia. These homes usually require more than the average number of hours to prepare.

Whatever amount of time it take to prepare for a sale, you need to keep in mind that people are spending time on that preparation, and they need to be paid for their time.

The marketing of a sale also requires money. In the household sale industry, we are fortunate to have a highly renowned website, estatesales.net that is most people’s go-to when it comes to finding sales. Household sales companies advertise their upcoming sales on this site and pay a monthly fee based on how visible they want their company to be and on how many pictures of personal property they want to upload onto ads.  Additionally, companies use other social media, websites, and local media to promote upcoming sales. Perhaps the most useful marketing tool is the company’s lawn sign, many of which are scattered within a certain radius of the sale and direct traffic to the sale location. These signs attract many, many local people to sales.

During the sale itself, which can last from one to three days, companies hire people to do such things as monitor traffic flow through the house, offer customer service, work the check-out area, prevent theft, consolidate goods as things are sold, and answer questions. Payment to all of these people comes out of the fee charged by the company.

Renaissance Household Sales
Renaissance Household Sales

Post sale hours are devoted to packing up property that has not sold and putting the house in order. When hiring a household sale company, it is important that expectations are clear about who is responsible for unsold goods.  Sales records are also put in order after the sale, and time is spent depositing cash and checks in the bank so that a final check can be cut for the client.

Finally, there are many incidentals required for a household sale that add up over time. Pricing stickers, tags, and safety pins (for pricing clothing and some furniture), Plastic bags, newspaper, writing tools, signage, receipt books, cash register, cash register tape, and credit card machine, expense of credit card sales, folding tables, clothes racks, tablecloths (and their maintenance) are all costs that need to be calculated into the price of the sale.

A household sale company spends more time and energy prepping for and conducting sales than most people imagine. It is worth the price you pay to a company to relieve yourself of the hours and hours of time and effort you would spend doing it yourself.  Having a company do the sale also frees you from the stress of parting with personal property with which you may have an emotional attachment.