Journalist. Mother. Bunny enthusiast. Pop culture junkie.

Journalist. Mother. Bunny enthusiast. Pop culture junkie.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Estate Sale Tips

I'm interrupting my Women in Jazz series to help make a positive change in your life.

I'm going to provide you with some invaluable tips about how to shop at estate sales.

Because when it comes to hitting up estate sales, I'm a fucking genius.

You're probably thinking, "But Jennifer, you're a fucking genius at everything!"

Touché, my friend, touché.

This is my story, take from it what you will. Or don't.

I grew up going to estate sales, because I have a mother who is a bargain-obsessed shopaholic. It wasn't until five or six years ago that I realized estate sales were perfect hunting ground for vintage fashion.

When going to an estate sale, it is imperative that you go on the first day.

If you do not, everything even remotely decent will be gone. All of the poor people, hipsters, vintage resellers, and fashionistas will have ransacked the house, leaving behind nothing but rusted crock pots and ridiculously-priced Victorian couches. Trust me.

Also, it is vital that you hit up estate sales in ritzy neighborhoods. In my city, there are a few parts of town filled with sprawling mansions, home to some of the richest people in America.

In the past five years, I have purchased the following at these high-end estate sales: a vintage Louis Vuitton bag, brand new Kate Spade bag, three Prada skirts, an Hermes scarf, Prada bag, vintage fur coat, emerald and sapphire necklace, emerald ring, and Free People skirt. These items ranged from $5 to $100.

If you see an item you want, but do not want to pay full-price, you must hide it. Because you will be able to go back the next day and get that item for half-off. I suggest discretely slipping the item into the nearest bathroom and placing it underneath the sink, because no one ever looks there. Or, a drawer in the bathroom. Once you start getting the hang of this process, you can be more creative and find even better hiding spots.

I did that last year with an Etro skirt and a fish purse. I ended up getting both for $12 on the 75 percent off day, because I hid them in a floorboard. This is a big deal because moments before, there had been three women fighting over that fish purse. I have only used the fish purse once in the past year, but it was worth every penny knowing that I now own something other women wanted.

If the house seems like the person who lives inside of it is crazy, or mentally unstable, you need to go there immediately. Nine times out of ten, those make the best estate sales, if not merely for entertainment value.

I've been to a sale run by two middle-aged women who were obsessed with Native Americans. Their entire house was filled with ancient arrowheads, decorative spears, and ugly ass paintings of warrior chiefs. It was the creepiest place in the world.

I've been to a sale run by a theater professor who once had Tom Hanks as a student. His entire house was filled with Hollywood memorabilia, which honestly should have been in a museum.

And most importantly HAVE FUN. Take a friend! Estate sale shopping is one of the coolest things on earth. Sometimes you score a deal. Sometimes you find a gem. Sometimes you don't. But the hunt is the best part. Not knowing what you're going to find is what makes it great.

I hope my tips help you!

**Update: Someone asked where to find estate sales. Just check the classified section of your local newspaper!**


Anonymous said...

How can we find out about upcoming estate sales?

Andrés Corella said...

Oh this never happen here! But if it did...I would totally follow your advice that´s for sure!

The Black Label

Siri Elaine said...

I have always wanted to go to an estate sale. I bet you could really find some sweet stuff!
I love your blog! I follow it and love your posts!
I am a makeup artist and fashion stylist, you should come say hello on my blog!
I love connecting with and meeting fellow bloggers!

PAPS said...

Never been to one. Dont know whether we have these around here even.

Mouthwash said...

Ooh man I am so PUMPED about this! haha. My paycheck comes tomorrow, and I am adding to the "Visiting Jennifer and going shopping with her" fund. :)

Ramblings of a Redhead said...

Hah this had my laughing out loud. You hid it under the floorboards?! Sneaky! Love it! I liked your tips and can't wait to put them to good use this spring/summer. Thanks babes!

Bunny Moreno said...

LOVE those tips!! Thank you for sharing your knowledge about them bc I havent been to one yet. Now I know to go on the first day in a neighborhood that is wealthy :) Your tips rocked!!! xox

David Macaulay said...

well this is great advice but I am more of a fan of the rusty old pans - the other stuff is dangerous.

AngeliqueDama said...


AngeliqueDama said...


AngeliqueDama said...


Meri said...

great tips! We live in a pretty ritzy, quite old neighborhood, and the estate sales range from fabulous (as in- I can't afford) to crazy dusty and borderline hoarder! I love looking for jewelry and dishes!

Ashley/ MILK TEETHS said...

I've been hitting up estate sales more and more these days and so far so good EXCEPT that I am not down to wake up at the crack of dawn to wait in line for two hours before the sale even opens (ridiculous!). Have you had to do this? Not to long ago there was one sale that looked super good with doors opening at 8 so I got there at 7:30 only to see literally 75 people milling around the front lawn. It wasn't even at a mansion or anything crazy, just a random old home in a suburban neighborhood. Worst they only let like 15 people in at a time so it would be a few more hours until I could have gone in so I left :/ Bah.

Josie said...

I LOVE estate sales. Like, with a passion. So fun!
xo Josie

French Girl in Seattle said...

Great post Jenny. I am going to try one of these in the area, The first thing I will do - thank you for the tip! - will be to look under the sink. Now do you promise I will find a Louis Vuitton or Chanel handbag there? Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

Couture Carrie said...

Hysterical post, per usual, darling... love your tips!


Elena said...

Really nice outfit, love the shirt and your shoes so much :D

Hope you'll visit me :)
Lots of kisses, Elly ♥

The Dainty Dolls House said...

Love it, fantastic advice!! Hope you have a marvelous weekend doll xx

Shannon said...

I've only been to one but found a real pearl necklace and I only paid $5 for it. Score.

Always Maylee said...

Um, this is amazing and you had me laughing! The floorboards?! Awesome. I've never been, but now I'm totally going to one!

xo, Yi-chia
Always Maylee

Cafe Fashionista said...

I have never before been to an estate sale; but now that I've read this, I'm dying to head off to one IMMEDIATELY! :)

yiqin; said...

i want the HK house!`

The Closet Shopper said...

Whoa. This post was awesome. Hiding it under a floorboard. I don't even care if that was embellished. I believe it to be true and it made my freak'n day. You made me, as they say on the internetz, LOL. Thanks, girl.

I've never been to one but you can bet I'm going now. And since I don't ever look at local papers, I'm hoping they advertise these online.

You're the best. Have a fab weekend.


Bonnie said...

I about died when I read that you hid it in a floorboard. We are so on the same wavelength. I was a store once that I knew was having a MAJOR sale the next week, so I hid stuff in the ceiling. Literally. I stood on a sink.
Twitter: @GlamKitten88

TheRitzyFlapper said...

we have a few estate sales out here :) i never really thought to look there haha im going to keep my eye out now :) oh and good tip about the getting it half off the next day! :) i need to save as much as i can haha you are amazing! :)

bridechic said...

This really gets me thinking about resuming my estate sale-hopping this summer.

oxoxoxox from San Francisco

BlueVanilla said...

LOVE estate sales! Great post babe!

Hot Pink Day
Shop Blue Vanilla

Tights Lover said...

In a floorboard? You are a fucking genius!

I am dying to hit one of these up now!

Have a fabulous weekend!

Sherin said...

I am seriously crying right now that Estate Sales don't happen in the UK. They seem like the most incredible thing ever. I want to go to one!!! And yes, I take a huge amount of pleasure knowing that I have something someone else wanted, whether I use it or not.

Kelly said...

Hmm very cool.. I've never heard of estate sales - this sounds so cool! Awesome tips - love that you hid a purse in the floor boards!

starla said...

I'm so jealous! Where I live there aren't no estate sales (in my little Spanish town it's almost unheard of, except in the movies) and you made miss Edinburgh, where I lived for a year and where there are so many vintage stores. Good advice in general, but you're a bit cheeky :-) (I do the same in libraries and book shops, when I want a book and am afraid someone else'll take it I hide it, it always work).

Floortje said...

I really love your blog dear!
Keep posting!!


Giovanna said...

Hahah love this post! Genius hiding places!


pilgrimchick said...

Great suggestions, actually. I have absolutely no experience shopping estate sales, but I am now far more likely to take the opportunity.

Rachel Jensen {Da Paura ♥} said...

Genius indeed, I will most definitely be keeping these ideas in mind! On the hunt for estate sales now....


Gayatri said...

Ohhh I must go to one now. My friend scored an authentic 14 carat sapphire ring for $100!

Anonymous said...

You are an effing genius at being a scammer.... Hiding things in the floor board really?! I bet if it was your item or your sale you wouldn't be too happy if someone did that to you. What comes around goes around "genius" Do you not have a conscious?!

Terry said...

Great article and some great additions to it in the comments. There are treasures to be found at estate sales even after the first day. I recently found an old Lawman Thermos (1961) buried away on a shelf in a basement. I paid $2 for it and resold it for $32. I usually try to find a few things at the sale that I can resell to cover the cost of the goodies that I want to keep. I am huge fan of estate sales and recently started a discussion forum where people talk about the finds, post pics, etc. Check it out if you like estate sales:

Anonymous said...

When first read the post,I am so amazed.
Just like Louis Vuitton Outlet always give people surprise.

Pavlos Lombardi said...

Thanks for the interesting tips. I've been thinking about building my own estate, but I just wasn't sure where I should start. I'll have to give your advice a try to see how it works out.

Anonymous said...

Hiding stuff? Really? How pathetic WTF? God damn Slacker!