L*Studio – Estate Sale Tips

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Most Thursday mornings, you’ll find me doing one of my favorite weekly rituals…shopping at estate sales. I live in Surprise, practically next door to Sun City where there is a gold mine of vintage treasures hidden away in those 50‘s era houses. You can find everything from furniture, knick knacks, jewelry, clothing, sewing & crafting supplies, to lawn equipment and tools at these sales. Like garage sales or a trip to Goodwill, shopping can be hit or miss, but if you go to a few spots, you’re sure to find some cool stuff. Please be aware that estate sales can be addicting. Soon after I started going to them I was hooked, and have been spray painting & reupholstering ever since. I love taking old furniture and accessories (I have a weakness for chairs & lamps) and updating them with a new coat of paint or a modern fabric to give it new life. I also have an etsy shop called junktrunk where I sell some of the vintage home decor items I find.

I’m not sure if I have the best method of finding & shopping estate sales, but I’ll tell you how I do it and give you some helpful tips to get you started:

-Estate sales usually run Thursday & Friday, Saturday only if there’s anything left. Most companies are switching to summer hours right now which are 7-1, the rest of the year they go from 8-2. It’s best to get there early, that way you have the best selection and the crowds aren’t too bad. By 10 am, you’ll be parking a block or two away from the sale and inside the house will be pretty crowded, making it hard to shop. It usually slows down by the end of the day, so it’s not bad to get there 1 or 2 hours before they close either.

-That being said, if you’re more interested in great deals than selection, skip Thursday and go on Friday morning instead. Most places will give anywhere from 25-50% off all day Friday because they want to get rid of everything so that they don’t have to be open on Saturday. Sure, there won’t be as much left, but I figure if something is meant to be mine, it will be there when I get there.

-A lot of estate sale companies have e-mail lists that you can sign up for to get the inside scoop on where the sales will be next week and what items will be there. Be sure to sign up on this list so you can decide ahead of time if it’s one you’d like to go to. This also helps in planning your driving route.

-Other than the e-mail alerts, you can also look in the classified ads for estate sale locations. I have to admit that I don’t do this, but if you’re more of a planner, this may be helpful. Generally, I head in the direction of the sales I know about, then on my way to those I see signs for other sales to stop at. If you’re not familiar with Sun City, most sales are located in the same general location so you don’t have to drive all over town to find them. From Scottsdale, take the 101 to Bell, head west until you reach Sun City. The best streets to try are 99th Ave, Boswell, & Del Webb (south). You may also want to try Sun City West, these homes are newer and won’t have quite as much retro stuff, but you’ll still find some interesting things. To get there, continue west on Bell, then go north on RH Johnson Blvd. and you should see estate sale signs to follow.

-Many companies only accept cash or checks but there are a few that will take credit cards if the purchase is over $10. So be sure to bring cash!

-It’s a good idea to use a purse with a zipper, there have been a few instances of pick-pockets at the sales so be aware of your surroundings.

-If you’re on the lookout for furniture, bring a truck or SUV (and maybe a friend). Some companies have delivery services but some don’t, so it’s best to be prepared to take your purchases home with you. I don’t have a truck, and there have been a few times that I’ve had to request the assistance of a stranger to help me shove a chair or table into the backseat of my Altima. Let me tell you, it’s no easy task.

I hope this has helped you and made you feel more comfortable about going to an estate sale if you’ve never been. I have to admit at first I was a little creeped out by going into someone’s house and digging through all of their stuff, but I’ve gotten over that. I like to think that whoever was living there moved into a nursing home and just didn’t have room to bring all of their stuff with them. I know that’s not always the case, but it works for me. Estate sales are a great place to find unique items that no one else will have, plus you’re helping the environment by up-cycling older items.

Thanks again to Stephanie & Joy for having me on their fabulous blog! Happy shopping!

Lisa is an interior designer, blogger(Design Actually), thrifter and do-it-yourselfer.  Lisa and her hubby Leon, a very supportive, hardworking, VW Bus Driving guy have two fur kids – Cooper and Parker (lil’ Yorkies). Not only is she a professional interior designer, but she also makes her own diaper bags and is an accessories designer (www.Lstudio.etsy.com).

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