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a home + living guide for the post-college, pre-parenthood, quasi-adult generation

07.02.2001

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more secrets of a SECONDHAND shopper: estate sales | 1 2 3 4
continued from page 2

On the other hand, if you just have a bit of time to kill and like to browse estate sales for the pure fun of the experience, the best deals are generally found on the last day of a weekend-long sale, or in the afternoon of a one-day-only sale. In those final desperate hours before a sale is set to end, the sellers will frequently announce that everything remaining is 50% off the marked price. This is when youíll find the real bargains Ė though be forewarned, you may find yourself hauling back all manner of item that you never before thought you actually needed Ö a bowling ball, a Buddha lamp, a strobe light, a kitschy Elvis ashtray, a croquet set (although if you find a croquet set, Iíll be very, very jealous indeed).

Be prepared
First and foremost, youíll need a good map of the city. Professionally-run estate sales usually provide excellent directions in their ads, plus very clear signs once you get close to the treasure trove, but privately-held estate sales can be more difficult to actually locate without the aid of a map. After youíve filtered out the most promising estate sales from the classifieds, write down all the addresses and look them up on a map, then plan out the most sensible and efficient route to take. You donít want to be driving back and forth, back and forth all over town if itís not necessary, right?

Donít leave the house without your checkbook in hand Ė cash is great, and may even give you better bargaining power, but unless you normally walk around with $200 buckeroos in your back pocket, youíll need the checks to be able to pay for the big items. Also, if you think thereís a chance that you may be buying anything big, bring along plenty of rope, bungee cords and a blanket or two, so that you can strap your finds to the top of your car. (A strong friend can come in handy as well). If you do end up stumbling across the cherry buffet table of your dreams, however, and just canít find anyway to lug it home in, say, your VW bug, no worries Ė just ask the sellers if you can pay for it now and return later to pick it up. Then rush home and call up your buddy Ė the one with the mammoth pick-up truck of course Ė for a little favor.

 

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