Estate sales can be one of the best places to shop at deep, deep discounts. There are some sale items that always seem to be priced at 10% OR LESS of the original retail price. That means you are paying 1/10th of the original price tag. A true bargain buy! (More on where to find estate sales below.)
Here are the top 10 items to grab immediately if you see them (and need them):
- Photo paper – I just grabbed up three brand new unopened 50 sheet packs of Premium Glossy Photo Paper for $2 each. These go for $34.99 on Amazon.
- DVDs – I have found so many of my favorite movies for $1. Sometimes these are the special edition packs with features I have never seen. Many of these are still in shrink wrap and find a new life as a holiday gift.
- File folders – If you can find some old ones at an estate sale, grab them. The new file folders are made from such thin paper stock that they can hardly hold the papers. Finding a half used box of file folders among the office supplies at any estate sale is almost a given.
- Scissors – A good pair of scissors is expensive to buy at the store, but normally sell for a dollar at a yard sale. This is the best place to pick up a pair of scissors for your essentials of crafting kit. Look for them among the craft/sewing supplies and also in the kitchen items.
- Christmas ornaments – It is becoming quite stylish to have vintage Christmas ornaments and lights. There is always a box of holiday decorations and wrapping supplies in any estate sale. I tend to skip on the wrapping paper because it is hard to store, but I have found some wonderful old ornaments and decorations.
- Avery labels – These labels are super expensive in the office supply store, yet no one seems to use a whole package. It never fails that there are some kind of labels that one can purchase for about a quarter. This is usually less than 10% of the original value. Make sure that you check if the adhesive is still in good shape.
- Camera lens – One of the great regrets of my estate sale life is that I didn’t snatch up a couple of Nikon lenses that I saw sitting on a table. I walked away and went back two minutes later and someone had grabbed them up. Camera lenses from 35mm cameras (the ones with film) will work on a digital camera. It has to be the same make (Canon won’t fit on a Nikon.) A good lens is very expensive (hundreds or even thousands of dollars) so finding a good second hand lens can be a real money saver, but it is important that you know how to buy a used camera lens and don’t get ripped off.
- Cars – A lot of estate sales include the sale of vehicles. If you are looking for such an item, make sure you take your mechanic with you or arrange to have him available for inspection. You can get a great deal if you are ready to grab it up.
- Vintage clothing – It goes without saying that a true estate sale will have some great clothes. I love finding an estate sale in the Hollywood Hills of some old starlet. The older the better as far as clothing goes. All clothing styles seem to come back, so you can grab up today’s new vintage styles for a couple of dollars – wow! Make sure to inspect for moth holes.
- Souvenirs – Every sale has some sort of souvenirs. I once saw an entire mini-spoon collection (gathered from a lifetime of collecting) for sale for $10. Of course, you won’t have actually gone to those places, but it could make a cool souvenir decorating idea.
There are two very distinct types of estate sales. One is run by professional estate sellers who know the value of items. Even though you can get good deals at those kind of sale, you won’t find the same wildly deep discounts that you will find at an estate sale run by very tired family members who just want to be done with the whole thing.
To find an estate sale near you, check your newspaper “garage sale” listings to head to EstateSales.net.
Beth M. says
I found a beautiful, round, huge (36″ diameter) copper tray for $30. I also found a lithograph for $2 by a semi-famous artist that is probably worth about $200.
Bargain Babe says
@Beth M. What amazing estate sale finds! How did you know the tray was copper? I know copper has a distinctive look, but I have a hard time telling the difference between cast iron, brass, etc.
Thanks for the link.
I would say dishes, kitchen equipment, doilies, clocks, musical instruments, video games, DVDs & VHS tapes and sometimes non-cloth furniture.
I have purchased all of the above for $1 or under at different estate sales. If the furniture is outdated, you can usually slap a coat of paint on it or make a covering for it.
London Estate Agents says
Very interesting article, it is important to keep up with the times.