Thursday, February 28, 2013

Estate Sale Etiquette

Winter is still here but the potential of warmer weather on the horizon has me hopeful for the future. Along with the thought of warmer weather the anticipation and excitement of the upcoming Flea and Antique Market season has my mind going a hundred miles and hour in about 20 different directions. I know it may be little early to be getting excited about it but there is no time like the present to start planning for the future. My calendar is quickly filling up with potential events throughout the Midwest that I am planning to attend or potentially be a vendor at. After a long cold winter I am ready to get back out, digging through tables of treasures and meeting and greeting those that know the trade better than anyone, the vendors.

Over the past couple of weeks we took a trip into learning about vintage styles and how to determine what era they are from. Now is a good of time as any to start taking what was learned and going out and finding some items that speak to us in a way that only a beloved vintage piece can. As we approach this season I thought this may be a good time to go over a little etiquette about how to conduct business so you can be sure to get the best price possible and the vendor makes the profit that they need and deserve. Every type sale has its own form of unwritten rules some of which are obvious and others that may be a little obscure to the newbie buyer. Whether it be an Estate Sale, Flea Market or Garage Sale having a sharp eye and an idea of what you are searching for always will help you along in your hunt for that perfect item to add to your home or collection.

So what are these rules? Like I said most are unwritten and understood by the patrons that attend these sales often. Hopefully over the next few weeks I can share some of the rules and regulations with you so when you are out shopping and filling your trunk you will look and act like a seasoned veteran and not a wet behind the ears newbie. Possibly the most complicated type is the Estate sale as every one is a little different depending on the requests of the family.


What is an Estate Sale?
Well pretty much exactly what is sounds like, the sale of a person's entire estate or a portion of it is sold at predetermined prices. I know the word "Estate" sounds grand and luxurious but an estate sale can be held in any home ranging from a one bedroom bungalow to a multimillion dollar mansion. In this form of sale the home is opened for a predetermined amount of time and its contents are offered to the general public for a price.

When are these sales? 
Most sales are held between Thursday and Sunday of any given week and can start very early in the morning which means you may be getting up with the chickens if there is something that you are determined to have. Depending on the volume of goods to be sold usually determines the length of the sale so this is one type of sale that a little research prior to attending can aid you significantly in your quest for treasures. If you live in or near a major city there may be multiple sales each week that you can attend so plan accordingly to hit the best ones first.

Where do I find estate sales?
One of the best websites available to thrifty hunters is which lists sales across the country on a weekly basis. On this site you can determine what sales are of interest to you by reading through the description of the sale or looking at pictures of the items that are to be offered. I personally skip over the pictures of tables full of glassware and dolls and look for the dark pictures in the basement ..... that is where the unknown treasures are always hiding! Other sources to consider are your local paper or weekly flyer and Craigslist. There is not a general section for estate sales on Craigslist but usually can be found under the Garage Sale heading and very often will have photos of items to be sold.

  • BE PREPARED by doing a  little research and if there is a certain item that you saw in a photo try to determine where in the home it may be if you can not ask about the item as you go through the door.
  • GET THERE EARLY if there is something that you have your heart set on. In some cases an hour or more before the start of the sale is not a bad idea.  
  • THINGS TO BRING with you that are useful are a tape measure (if you don't have one a $1.00 bill is 6 inches), a large shopping bag since most sales do not offer a basket for you to put your loot in until check out. And a small flashlight tucked away in your pocket.
  • BATHROOM BREAK there aren't any. Make sure that you make a pit stop before arriving at the sale since most do not offer facilities for the public's use.
  • KEEP AN OPEN MIND when it comes to the condition of the home. Remember we do not all live the same way and there may be a reason unknown to you to why it is in somewhat of a dis-shuffled state.
  • BRING CASH even though some sales now accept credit cards cash is still king If you are thinking about writing a check think again, this form of payment is usually unheard of unless you have an established relationship with the proprietor of the sale. 

Life is full of them and Estate sales have their own set to be followed. Take a look at a few of the standard rules so that you are well versed on the dos and don't s. Following these can make you a friend for life or by not following them get your tagged as "That Person".

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  1. Once you arrive and park a block and a half away you realize there is 30 people wandering around the front yard. Don't be hesitant you are definitely at the right place! Look for a person with a clip board or ask someone that looks kind if there is a "list". The list is the order in which people will be let into the home. Some sales may have a person out front handing out numbers, if this is the case make sure you do not loose it once it is in your hands. If there is a line of people just find the end and get in it since there may not be a list or numbers being handed out.
  2. It is 9:00am now and the after an hour of standing in the cold they are letting people in but all of a sudden they stopped. WHAT? This is because the amount of space in most homes is limited so normally 10 to 15 people will be let in and once they are settled and dispersed through out the residents the next group will be let in and so on. This is why if you have something in mind it is a real good idea to be early. 
  3. Pick up only what your really intend on buying. It is poor form to walk around with an arm full or bag full of items that you are debating over. Keep in mind the person who came in behind you may of come for only one item and you are caring it around and then decide against it at the last minute. Being a thoughtful shopper has many rewards so try to practice this at all times. Go with your gut feeling about the things you are debating over and leave the rest for someone else to take home with them. 
  4. At most sales prices are marked on each item. If you do not see a price ask one of the sales associates who will be more than happy to find out for you. Keep in mind they are there to help but don't expect them to carry the couch out for you. If you intend on buying large items make sure your have your muscle lined up ahead of time. 
  5.  In the event that you are there to buy large items make sure that a sold tag gets put on the items that you are intending on purchasing before someone else comes by and swipes up that incredible Mid Century Sofa!  Again this is where the sales associate comes in hand y and they are more than happy to mark it sold for you. If you are not taking that big item with you immediately make arrangements with the staff as to when you will be picking it up and make sure to exchange phone numbers in case plans are changed. 
  6. Prices on the first day are usually fixed and not negotiable but it does not hurt to ask. Keep in mind that if the sale is three days long they may not be real flexible with dropping the price that first day but  on the second or third day you may get a great bargain.... especially with large items!
  7. If there is an item that you are truly interested in but the price is not what you want to pay ask if there is a "Bid Box" or if you can leave a bid with someone for the item. Some sales offer this option and at the end of the day if your item is still there they will look at your bid and determine if it is acceptable or not. If they accept it you can expect a call that evening to notify you that your bid was accepted and arrangements will be made for you to pick it up.
  8. Often the last day of the sale or a portion of it prices are discounted. This discount may range from everything being half price, everything half priced except marked items or possibly even make an offer. Just keep in mind that everything has been pretty picked over at this point and your beloved item that you debated over may not be there still. 
  9. Pay for your items and be prepared to bag and wrap your own things. Some sales may offer this service and provide paper to wrap your fragile items in but don't expect it. Make sure you have a couple of recycled grocery bags tucked away in your pockets or purse. 
  10. Be friendly and make a good impression. The company holding the sale will remember who you are and if they have a mailing list make sure that you get on it so you are one of the first to know about upcoming sales. 
There you have it, the most important aspects of an estate sale to get your through your first like a seasoned pro. It is good to remember to keep your comments about the home or the condition of items to yourself while you are at the sale since you never know if a family member is in your presence.  Most importantly have fun and take in the experience. It can sometimes be sobering to think that this is what all of our lives eventually comes down to but think of the joy that is is being passed along and the stories you will be able to share with your friends and family about your experience.

Next Week ...

Garage Sales and picking the right one for you.


Taste, Sight and Smell!
Like I said it is still winter here and mother nature has proved that over the past week with lots of snow. Suffering a bit from cabin fever I wanted something that reminded me of my childhood and would take me back to those cold winter days of my youth where my biggest concern was  if there would be a snow day or not. What better than fresh baked bread! My mother would often bake bread in the winter on Saturdays filling the house with that incredible smell and building the anticipation of a fat hot fat slice slathered in butter and drizzled in honey. If this thought took you back to a similar memory give this recipe a try, it  is very easy and the outcome will put a smile on your face and a touch of home in your belly.



1 tsp (5 mL) sugar
1/2 cup (125 mL) water, warm
1 envelope (8 g) active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp/11 mL)
1 cup (250 mL) milk
2 tbsp (30 mL) butter or margarine
2 tbsp (30 mL) sugar
1 1/2 tsp (7 mL) salt
1/2 cup (125 mL) water, warm
5 1/2 cups (1375 mL) ROBIN HOOD® Best For Bread Homestyle White Flour


1. DISSOLVE 1 teaspoon (5 mL) sugar in 1/2 cup (125 mL) warm water in large bowl. Sprinkle in yeast. Let stand 10 minutes, then stir well.
2. HEAT milk to lukewarm. Stir in butter, 2 tablespoons (30 mL) sugar, salt and 1/2 cup (125 mL) warm water. Add milk mixture and 2 cups (500 mL) Robin Hood Best For Bread Homestyle White Flour to dissolved yeast mixture. Beat with wooden spoon or electric mixer until smooth and elastic.
3. STIR IN 2 1/2 cups (625 mL) of remaining flour gradually. If necessary, add more flour to make a soft dough which leaves sides of bowl. Turn out on floured board. Round up into a ball.
4. KNEAD dough, adding more flour as necessary, until dough is smooth, elastic and no longer sticky (about 10 minutes).
5. PLACE in lightly greased bowl. Turn dough to greased top. Cover with greased waxed paper and tea towel.
6. LET RISE in warm place (75°-85°F/24°-29°C) until doubled (45-60 minutes).
7. PUNCH DOWN. Turn out onto lightly floured board and divide into 2 equal portions. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
8. SHAPE each portion into a loaf. Place seam side down in 2 greased 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" x 2 3/4" (1.5 L) loaf pans. Cover with tea towel.
9. LET RISE in warm place until dough rises 1 1/2" (3 cm) above top of pan in centre and corners are filled (45 to 60 minutes).
10. BAKE at 400°F (200°C) on lower oven rack for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from pans immediately. Brush top crust with butter if a soft crust is desired. Cool on wire racks.
11. QUICK NOTE: This recipe makes 2 loaves. For 4 loaves, simply double all of your ingredients.
TIP: If you do not have a warm place to raise your bread turn your oven on for a minute while you are mixing your dough and turn it off after that minute is up. You just want it to preheat to a temperature that is 75 to 85 degrees. Now turn on the oven light and leave it on. This is a great place to raise your dough in a warm draft free environment.

The Pinterest Pin to the recipe and others



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