EVEN THE KITCHEN SINK MIGHT BE AVAILABLE AT YOUR LOCAL ESTATE SALE
CHRISTY BONSTEL/ Special to the Detroit News
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Going a little crazy without garage sales to scour for deals? Just want to get out of the house and stop hibernating? Then get out to some estate sales.
Despite nasty, slushy weather and tough parking, hundreds of people showed up at an estate sale held by Marcia Wilks earlier this month in Grosse Pointe Park.
"I had two in a row. Both weekends were terrible weather," she says. "I had hundreds of people. I did gangbusters. You can buy anything. You can get toilet paper or a fine antique. People get comfort out of buying things."
"There are the same amount of sales year-round," says Diane Hudec, owner of Diane Hudec Estate and Liquidation Sales in Chicago. "There is not a bad time of year to have an estate sale."
Estate sales are generally held when a family member has passed away or when a person is moving. The entire house becomes a showroom, and everything in it gets tagged with a price. You can find sales in your newspaper classifieds or online at
Here are some tips from Kolojeski and Tawra Kellam, owner of www.livingonadime.com, to help you get the best haul at estate sales:
*Estate sales are a wonderful way to find antiques, but be sure you know what you're paying for. Only pay a premium price for something you're positive is worth it or that you love that much.
*Look for odds and ends that can save you money, such as unopened cleaning supplies, which can go for as low as a quarter. Your savings can be gigantic.
*Be ready to negotiate, but know that estate sales are different than garage sales because an outside company often runs them. However, if you find one run by the family, they might be more willing to haggle.
*If you're looking for something in particular, it's best to go early and purchase that item at the listed price. However, if you can afford to wait, come back in the last hours of the sale when things are marked down as much as 75 percent.
*If you're furniture shopping, set up help and transportation in advance of the sale because the company is not likely to hold an item for you.
*Just because something is old is no reason to assume it's worth money. Things that are damaged can lose their value.
*Don't buy things just because they are cheap. Ask yourself if you really want it before getting caught up in the excitement of a bargain.
*Bring a magnifying glass with you to identify markings or chips in china or glass. Be sure you know what you're buying is authentic; don't just assume a "diamond" ring is a diamond -- it may be glass or even vice versa.
*If you see a piece of china you like, tap it with a ballpoint pen. If you hear a bright "ting" sound, the china is crack-free. A dull sound means there's a crack you can't see.
*Books are worth more as first editions, in perfect condition, illustrated by certain artists and still in possession of a book jacket. If you intend to collect books for an investment, you should know a little about them.
*Bring coin change and small bills. This makes it easier to pay and to haggle.
*If you're looking for silver, carry a reference book to help you tell the importance of the markings made on silver jewelry or utensils.
*You may not be able to try on clothes, so wear something you could throw clothes over for an estimated fit".
Estate sales can turn up clothes, furniture, collectibles and much more, says Patricia Kolojeski, who ran Grosse Pointe Household Sales for 28 years before retiring last year. "Now I go to sales. It's a fun kind of a thing," she says. "It is like an addiction. I think people want to get a bargain."