Estate Sale Rules

I love going to estate sales and finding treasures, but I don’t like how rude and awful some of the people are. I’m not talking about the people who work the sales, I’m talking about the people attending them. I have come up with a list of “rules” I think everyone should follow to make the experience more enjoyable.

1. This is the #1 rule – be polite! Being a jerk will not get you an additional discount or any help from anyone around you. All it does is make you look like an ass and make me want to purchase whatever you’re there to buy just to spite you.

2. This should technically be rule 1.5, because it goes along with being polite. No shoving, pushing, grabbing, etc. We all want a bargain, but it’s not worth acting like a jerk and trying to run over the little old lady (or sassy blonde – me) in front of you. Say “excuse me” and I’ll gladly move.

3. Don’t park like an ass. People live in the area where the sale is being held. Many need to leave their driveways to go to work or the store. Don’t block driveways, park in the middle of the street, park crooked, jam your car next to another one, park on someone’s lawn without their permission, block the driveway of the sale house (unless you’re loading an item or dropping off a handicapped person), block mailboxes during delivery, drive the wrong way down the street, park against traffic, etc.

4. If you want to purchase a large item and the employees don’t have sold stickers, take off the price and take it to the register to pay. Don’t walk away from the item to pay then get bitchy when someone picks it up to buy it. You need to indicate the item is sold somehow or someone *will* buy it from under you.

5. I understand you may own a flea market or have a booth and are trying to find bargains to fill it. It does not give you the right to be greedy, loudly complain about prices, shove people out of the way, or bad mouth the company holding the sale. Most of the people I know in the estate sale business research the items before pricing them. They are there to make money, not to help fill your booth. Give them a break and don’t storm off in a huff because something is marked $6 and you only want to pay $2.

6. This is going to sound mean, but it’s a huge pet peeve of mine. When I’m looking through LPs, I don’t want to hear about your *fantastic* stereo system or how you have 10,000 albums in your basement. I don’t care. I also don’t need you to ask me what I’m looking for. I’ll know it when I see it. I like to shop alone or with a certain circle of friends. I really don’t care what you collect or where your flea market booth is with a *huge* collection. Chances are I’ve been there and thought your prices were ridiculous.

7. Be nice to the employees. As my grandmother used to say, “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” These people work hard, get up early, work late, and deal with your crap. Be nice to them. Don’t steal, write bad checks, or argue with them about the prices. They are not stupid. They know what they’re doing far better than you do. If you can do it better, go form your own company.

8. Did your item sell already? Don’t whine. It happens. Someone got there earlier and got it. So what? I can guarantee there will be another sale soon.


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One response to “Estate Sale Rules

  1. Amen! Can I add a few for those holding the sale, and maybe a couple pro-tips?
    I find that when folks try to do a sale themselves (without a company), they don’t always know the local ‘rules,’ but those attending a sale do- and this can lead to conflict. For example, around here-parts, the last day of a sale is almost always half-price. The other day, I went to a sale on a Sunday afternoon- end of the sale- but the heirs were not offering the usual half-price tradition. Many people were getting to the front of the payment line, getting a total that was twice what they expected, and walking away. The woman taking the money was getting really rude about it, too, but what did she expect?
    Please don’t play store. This is an estate sale. I know I will pay more than I would at a garage sale. But don’t ask me to pay $3 for some “Brute by Faberge” deodorant that’s older than both my kids. Or $2 for a skein of embroidery floss I can get brand new three blocks away for $1.99.

    Pro-tips: What do you want? Go there first. Why shove your way through a crowded living room when what you want is in the basement anyway? Don’t be bashful about asking for stuff- I ask “Do you have craft/sewing supplies?” or “Do you have any VP collectibles?” and the sales folks are usually glad to point me in the right direction. Chat up the other folks there- be friendly! Often other folks can give you great tips on other sales, solve mysteries “what is this weird object??” “oh, that’s a lemon zester!”, and the like. Have a list, or a reasonably intelligent phone. I can snap a pic of a plate, text it to my friend who collects them, and she’ll let me know if she doesn’t have that one yet. I have a list of cookbooks I am missing from this huge set… some day I will find them all… Finally, know your neighborhoods. GPS has eliminated the need for the bedraggled street guide every dedicated estate-saler once had in the car, but you need to know what’s going to be where. If I am looking for some funky retro weirdness, I head to South St. Louis. I swear, all those German grandmothers never threw away a thing, and it’s all still there…. if I want something NWT, I head for Chesterfield.

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