Back in Action: Estate Sale Finds

I’ve been on such a tight budget lately, I haven’t had much room for extras – not even the super cheap and satisfying extras found at garage, yard, and estate sales. But then, through a weird twist of events, I found myself with some extra money, and on Saturday morning, decided to treat myself by hitting a couple of neighborhood estate sales.

Vintage turquoise letter holder

A sweet ass vintage turquoise letter holder… (I like the “misc” slot. It’ll keep me up at night, figuring out new misc things to put in the misc slot.)

Ceramic flower cups

Two ceramic lotus flower cups, 2 for $1. I’ll use these for prepping food in the kitchen, and eventually I’m sure they’ll serve some other use. Storing bobby pins, or rings? Change cup? Candle holders? Yes, yes, yes, please!

Vintage embroidered pillows

I just love these. I saw the butterfly pillow and gasped. I’m a little less excited about the other one, but felt it would be wrong to separate them. They were $1 each. The lady taking the money marveled, “Isn’t the embroidery wonderful?” Yes. Yes, it is.

Blond wood vintage coffee table

I was excited about this find for many reasons. One, naturally, is the architectural nature of its silhouette. The other is that I’d been looking for a little table to put next to our desk, which could hold our printer/scanner and some other bibs and bobs. After bringing this home, I rearranged our office and it’s like a breath of fresh air in there. This was a bit of a splurge at $10.

Vintage coffee mugs

The 1970s Chevron stripe mug on the left is now holding the pens that gather at our back door landing strip. The milk glass “coffee in many languages” mug is perched on our kitchen windowsill, looking awesome.

Vintage books

Always, always, ALWAYS my favorite estate sale find. Older books that people have in their homes their whole lives are usually, to me, much more interesting than the discarded detritus that fills secondhand stores. Personal items like decorating books, cookbooks, and religious tracts abound.

Vintage decorating books

Ohhhhh nelly. Score! These are great on many levels: for humor’s sake, for the actually great how-to information and tutorials inside, and for the occasional great inspiration. Yes, bad decorating books from the 1960s DO have hidden gems! In my opinion, they are always worth picking up – or at least considering.

Inside of vintage decorating book

One of my favorite spreads.

All in all, Saturday morning’s trip set me back $24 (I also got a tote bag and awesome apron, but they both need a cleaning). I didn’t do any negotiating, which I normally do. For some reason, the tone at both of these estate sales made me hesitant to wheel and deal. I felt sad for both families.

Which leads me to a side note: The second sale was clearly being held by somebody other than the woman who’d lived in the place – somebody much younger. If you picked up the conversational cues, you’d know it was her daughter. When I arrived, there was a man picking through her belongings, asking why there wasn’t any jewelry.

“I haven’t had a chance to sort through the jewelry and price it, so we’ll be here with it next weekend,” said the apartment-holder’s daughter.

“Well break it out!” said the guy, as his girlfriend stood there silently. “We’ll sort through it here and now.”

“Sir, I can’t do it,” the daughter said. “I have brothers and sisters who haven’t had a chance to go through the belongings and claim what’s theirs.”

“Fine. Let’s go, Susan. Let’s get out of here. There’s nothing I want.”

Then, a woman and her son came later and went through the Tupperware. “None of this stuff has prices,” she said to the daughter’s husband. “If you wanna sell it, you gotta price it.”

“You can make her an offer,” he said, somewhat sadly. “It’s been so overwhelming, we just haven’t had a chance to price it.”

“Well, there’s some prices, but she wants $2 for that Tupperware. I buy it for 25 cents everywhere else,” she responded, totally oblivious.

I don’t really know why I’m sharing this. It obviously doesn’t bother me so much that I don’t shop at estate sales, and gloat over what I found. But I do try to have a rapport with the people holding it. I always try to offer up how thrilled I am to be buying a certain piece – that I collect decorating books, or have been looking for a vintage apron and am so glad I finally found the perfect one. I can’t help thinking that it makes the person holding the sale feel a bit better knowing that their loved one’s belongings are going to a loving home rather than an eBay pile. And if there’s nothing I want, I know better than to declare it.

Or maybe it just makes me feel better, and does nothing for them.


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