Three Tips for Estate Sale Shopping

If you’ve ever walked around your favorite antique or vintage shop and wondered, “Where do they find this stuff,” the answer is often estate sales. For a long time, I viewed estate sales as something above my station, something for experts and dealers only. How do I even find out about them?

For estate sales in the United States, your first stop is There you can type in your ZIP Code and search for upcoming sales in your area. When I travel, whether it is to my hometown, across the country, or for a short weekend jaunt, I love to search online for estate sales happening in my destination city. Now that you know where to look, here are three tips for shopping estate sales.

1. You gotta know the territory: Estate sale companies typically go to great lengths to post photos of all of their items on ahead of a sale. Take the time to study the photos and decide if there is anything you really want. When I find photos of items that interest me, I save them to my phone so I can have them ready at the sale. Estate sale companies typically will not post prices ahead of time. Research any collectible prices in advance. Know the fair market value, and what you would be willing to pay.

2. Arrive early or fashionably late? If you have found that a sale has must-have items that you cannot live without, then arrive on time to the sale opening. Be sure to abide by the estate sale company’s posted rules, which often include a warning not to arrive hours early, hanging out on the front porch of the home. Be respectful, but be on time if you are dying to get a specific item. Now if Russian Roulette is more your style, you might be a candidate for waiting for the last day and the final few hours of the sale, when items typically go for about 50 percent off. The savings can be huge, but the risk is greater. No risk, no reward, right?

3. Meet your merchants: Whether you collect vintage hats, vintage coats, or glassware, get to know your local estate sale companies and let them know what you collect. Many companies reach out to collectors and dealers ahead of time if they know they may have something in the sale that interests them.

Some of my greatest finds have been at estate sales, from the homes of former diplomats when I was a college student in Washington, D.C, to unassuming Florida bungalows with incredible hidden treasures. Check out and enjoy the hunt!

Who knew that an ultra-modern crimson red leather jacket would pair so well with a 1940s vintage hat? This leather jacket was a steal at Marshalls. For a similar look, check out this red leather moto jacket by BCBGeneration at Macy’s.

Macy’s >>
Leather Moto Jacket

My 1950s vintage gray wool fur-trimmed coat came from the Point Pleasant Antique Emporium. For vintage coats, I like to shop locally but also make great finds on eBay, Etsy and Ruby Lane For a crisp, classic, gray wool coat, check out this one by Ralph Lauren, also at Macy’s.

Macy’s >>
Ralph Lauren
Faux-Fur-Collar Walker Coat

Luz at Lyfe Photography did a beautiful job with our Christmas photos last year in historic downtown Pensacola, Florida. Don’t let the palm trees fool you, even Floridians need winter coats!

#vintagecoats #vintagehats #estatesales #estatesalestips #vintageclothing #vintagefashionblog #vintagefashionblogger

Alison Hetherington

For the modern girl who loves everything vintage.

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