You don't need to be a collector to enjoy an estate sale

Why Would I Go to an Estate Sale?

by Marilyn Michaels

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I've never felt the need for ever-changing visual surroundings and I'm not a collector of anything. In fact, I've chosen a simplified lifestyle and live in a powerboat without room for collecting. Yet, discovering estate sales changed my life. The uninitiated or space-challenged may ask, "How could I find estate sales useful or interesting?"

Meeting Interesting (And Knowledgeable) People

Many a Friday morning, I've enjoyed sipping my single, tall mocha, while chatting with other, more serious estate salers (a whole group of new and interesting people) about their lives and passions. I've met doll collectors (and learned about my antique doll inherited from my Grandmother), record collectors (which brought me up to date on the latest technology for those who give presentations), and watch collectors (where I learned about the gold watch inherited from my husband's German relatives). Many are resellers and I've gained valuable information about that alternate and convenient shopping universe called eBay.

Great Gifts

At one estate sale, I hit gift pay dirt. I needed to buy gifts for a new baby in the family. I also needed a gift for the baby shower of a friend's daughter, and Christmas was near. I found a beautiful music box and several brand new baby outfits to send. I also found two collector dolls still in their boxes. One became a Christmas gift for a niece and the other a gift for the upcoming new baby of another friend. I bought a large stuffed animal, as part of a fun Christmas gift for a hard-to-buy-for teenage nephew. I found two large crystal serving platters in a modern design for holiday gifts to friends. They had been marked the first day of the sale at $75. I got them for $12.50 each on the sale's last day.

My husband's hobby is cooking. Estate sales are amazing for books in general, but cookbooks in particular. Because of my new hobby, he now has a kitchen (in our case, galley) full of enviable cooking accoutrements with a favorite acquisition being a like-new, full-size Krups food processor for $8.00.

A Bonanza for Organization

I find all sorts of things that help me extend the space in my very small dwelling. I found a three-shelf, rolling metal cart that has attractively extended the storage space in my small kitchen.

Have you ever dreamed of having a Tupperware(r) lady come over and customize your cupboards and refrigerator? I had, but couldn't afford it. If you open my cupboards or refrigerator these days, you'd be amazed! Everything has its own container. My husband's sport coats and suits even hang on expensive wooden hangers ($0.25 each) neatly covered by zippered suit bags ($0.10) above a like-new black leather and cloth designer suitcase, which I got for almost nothing.

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A Killer Wardrobe

At my very first estate sale, I came across three large closets full of odd sized men's clothing that fit my odd sized husband perfectly. This was not just average clothing. It was like-new, custom-made designer clothing. My husband's wardrobe grew with five beautiful sport coats, two suits, fifteen shirts, and a box of designer ties all for merely $200. Below those coats sit his brown suede Bruno Mali loafers and black designer tasseled loafers from Spain, which I also found at estate sales. At a later sale, I found a gorgeous leather jacket for $25 to winterize his killer wardrobe.

Eliminating Storage

If I had discovered estate sales years ago, I would not have stored away so much stuff that turned into junk. Estate sales have taught me you can replace anything for very little and save so much, especially when you consider monthly storage bills.

A whole new mixture of wonderful kitchen implements now sits atop our stove in a beautiful heavy crystal vase. Older and cheaper kettles and pans are long gone. Each week I enjoy a treasure hunt, chatting with interesting people, bringing special treats to my husband and friends, and becoming more organized. There's something at estate sales for everyone.

Marilyn Michael is a psychotherapist ( She lives on a powerboat on Lake Union in Seattle with the Space Needle out her back window. Going to estate sales has become a hobby and source of great fun.

Take the Next Step:

  • If you enjoy going to estate sales, perhaps you would like to make some extra cash running them. Here is an inside look at the business of running estate sales.
  • For more great estate sale and garage sale shopping strategies, please visit The Dollar Stretcher Library.
  • Join those who 'live better...for less' - Subscribe to The Dollar Stretcher newsletter, a weekly look at how to stretch both your day and your dollar! Subscribers get a copy of our ebook Little Luxuries: 130 Ways to Live Better...For Less for FREE!

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