From the first sale. I was delirious.

I am heading out to an estate sale this morning. It’s Wave #2 of the estate sale where I scored a gazillion vintage Christmas ornaments and bottle brush trees (above). It was EPIC. I got there at 5:45 a.m. to sign the list to get in. I was number #12 — or maybe #8? — and made a mad dash for the vintage Christmas ornaments. SCORE!

This is an estate sale of a couple who ran estate sales <<– STOP! Think about that! Wave #2 includes all the stuff taken out of their storage facilities. I’m not sure there will be as much for me at this second sale, based on what I see in the photos online. But hey, it’s all about the hunt. I am getting up early again. Why do I run my own business and work from home if not to get up at 4:30 a.m. to go wait in line at an estate sale when it’s 20 degrees out. Wish me luck!

Meanwhile, I invite you to:

  1. Maria says:

    To this day, my biggest regret is that I had no money to shop an estate sale in Wilmette, IL around 1995. The couple that lived in the house (the husband died, woman was in a nursing home) had WONDERFUL Mid-Century wood furniture, kitchen items, luggage… you name it, and all of it had been cared for very well over the years. They were also puppeteers (so, yep, portable stages, puppets, props, costumes–the works!). The couple apparently traveled extensively, so in addition to that, their house was “souvenir town”!

    To make things even more desirable, the husband was a photographer and they had TONS of framed photos and photo albums of their travels different states and countries from the 1930s or so upwards. Never mind that the three-story house itself was a beautiful turn-of-the-century structure.

    Sadly, the only thing I could afford to buy at the time was one of the used 1960s twin beds in the couple’s room (I’d just rented a room at the notorious H.H. Holmes house down the street and had been sleeping on the floor). I also picked up a black-and-white photograph of a skinny, goatee-sporting young man with bizarre-looking puppets on each hand–which turned out to be none other than Jim Henson, with his early creations, Watkins and Wilkins!

  2. Dan says:

    I still enjoy the occasional estate sale but, after having helped clean out six houses after the deaths of friends and family, I’ve become a far less impulsive buyer. As Roz Chast wrote in ‘Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?’, I tend to look at possessions ‘postmortemistically’. I’ll often see something that, in times past, I would have snatched up. Now I have no trouble admiring it and hoping it finds an appreciative home.

  3. Jay says:

    Good Luck! Are those photos for the storage units? A veritable antique shop! I wonder if it’s the best of the leftovers from their estate sales and intended to have sales of their own or go to flea markets or take a booth somewhere. I would be delirious too if I ever stumbled on an ornament haul like you did.

  4. Carolyn says:

    About 20 yrs ago, I started going to estate sales just to see what the difference was from rummage sales. I came away with less items due to ignorance and lack of imagination but started inviting my daughter to “go see the dead guy’s house” – a lure to pique her morbid bent.
    Sometimes I snatched up stuff from my childhood (Jack and Jill mags from birth month & year) but then it got to be looking at the house. It was what you’d expect upstairs but then the basement!!! A whole other world down there!
    My advice is to have many dollars in your pocket, if you pick it up, buy it. Look from right to left and then go left to right to leave the room, take my daughter who seems to be very free with “helping me” buy things I didn’t see (1970’s Oster Kitchen centers), and go back again Sunday.
    And thanks to Pam and commenters, look at damaged stuff in a different light to re-purpose.

  5. Eliza says:

    I like your suggestion about get there whenever. We went to one last weekend that had everything half price and scored a beautiful old ethan allen rocking chair and console table, $40 for both and they are now gracing our living room. Although it occurred to me that we have furnished our 1965 ranch with stuff that replicates what we grew up with, which is strange if you think about it.

  6. Barbara says:

    Nice! A Wednesday estate sale.
    I will be waiting with baited breathe for Thursday details about all your treasures you bought.
    Hope your also taking the rest of the day off for Pamela.

  7. Debbie in Portland says:

    I, too, am a longtime, dedicated estate sale shopper. When people admire vintage goodies at my house they often hear, “Oh, I bought that at an estate sale at this really great house over in (whatever neighborhood)”.

    I’ve been estate-saling and thrifting since high school, and it’s been interesting to watch things cycle through in popularity over the past 40 years. A few years ago you almost couldn’t give away those vintage ornaments. Nowadays we’ll get up at 4 in the morning to make sure we get to them first.

  8. Nina462 says:

    I, too, go to Estate Sales. I get fabric to make quilts for the missions (so it has to be good fabric), but I also furniture and kitchen stuff for myself. I’ve purchased a vintage bedroom set (bed, dresser) for my spare bedroom; a 1965 Motorola TV console (which I converted to hold my newer tv); a Hi Fi record/radio console for my knotty pine bar (my Hi Fi…is the same one in your doll house – with the louvered doors). I must have 3 or 4 sets of cocktail glasses in their carrying case…Argh!
    I try to keep my collections to a minimum –

  9. Alicia says:

    Eliza, I could never understand my parents’ attraction to antiques. As my interest in vintage MC style has grown, I now understand the comfort and pleasure that these items bring. These are the things that were prevalent when we were growing up. About 15 yrs ago I paid $150 for a vintage starburst clock exactly like the one that hung in our home in the 60’s. I remember my mom bringing that clock home from the S&H Greenstamps store. I think she got it for 5 books of stamps. Lol!

  10. PAUL says:

    Did you ever go to an Estate Sale and get so “blinded” by the love and excitement of a terrific item only to come home and discover your treasure was broke, chipped or damaged? Or, later realize there is a vital obsolete component or piece missing? It has happened to me so many times that I now take a few minutes to “calm down” from the Estate Sale “rush” and give it a more thorough look. For glass or ceramic items, I gently run my hand over an item for any obsolete small chips or damage. This is a simple tip has really helped me avoid bringing home damaged items that I would have resisted had I noticed the flaw before purchasing. HAPPY HUNTING !

  11. Kim McDonald says:

    Oh Dan, I entirely sympathize and agree with you. Nothing will cure you of a shopping obsession more than meeting the end result head on. After clearing out 3 houses after the death of relatives, it has completely cured me of my yard sale obsessions. I, too, still enjoy looking, but am very reserved in what I actually take home. I have found that having less of a need to own has given me a great feeling of freedom and release.

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