Why Shop at Household Sales?
by John Sullivan
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.
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.
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. It’s fun and dirt cheap entertainment.