What Do Estate Sales Pickers Have to Say
When you are listening to other estate sale pickers and expert eBay sellers on YouTube, you learn something. Although you may have a small library of price guides, publications, magazines, books, paperbacks, etc. about antiques and collectibles, things worth selling, you’ll never know it all about where to hunt, how to price and all the places to sell.
I admit that I have a keen eye for finding and identifying quality things to sell, yet an expert is one of my go-to sources to learn something different and interesting to keep me on my toes and excited about finding hidden treasures to buy and sell. Those two skills became the foundation for my estate sale experience. Note: As an estate sale professional, I do not purchase from my sales.
When I have spare time, my favorite pastime is browsing through flea markets, but there are many places to hunt for valuable things on my list, as you’ll see below. Thrift stores used to be my favorite hunting place, but not so much these days. They just don’t seem to have the good stuff they used to have, which begs the question: Why not?
I think I was born with an eye for quality things because I am so aesthetic conscious. However, almost anyone can develop an “eye” for valuable things that are not just old, but unique, different, odd, pretty in an uncommon way, quality, flawless, expensive and rare. Having the ability to determine the rarity of an item requires years of extensive study of a particular item or category of items. No one person can know it all. That’s why collectors specialize in a specific area and collaborate with others.
Why Is It Important To Develop An Eye?
Earning substantially more profits is the obvious reason. Competition is next.
Have you ever noticed someone dogging your footsteps at a flea market, yard sale or estate sale and wondered why? For whatever reason these bird doggers zone in on someone who appears to have an eye, that’s picking up only nice things, turning them over to check for maker’s marks…. It doesn’t take these copycats long to invade your space either. That’s basically why people start fighting over things. I have literally seen this happen in Goodwill stores. Pickers or people with a keen eye often camp out where the picking is good for early Steiff bears, engraved sterling silver, etc. By the nature of collecting to buy, sell, and hold they are aggressive in the pursuit of what they want.
Hmm? Wonder if Lynn Dralle is like that? As I may not be in the same buying and selling category as the Queen of Auctions, I must admit that my “eye” is not dim and I am capable of turning a handsome profit on my finds. That being said, this article was written to help newbie pickers who want to become experts at buying and selling online, because the Internet is where the REAL money is.
What I want you to take away from this article is a set of simple rules to remember before you set out to start picking or buying at estate sales or anywhere to maximize your time and budget, find at least one treasure per hunt, and TAKE PROFIT!
Rule 1: Even if you possess a natural gift of spotting valuable things, you need to constantly review publications about what’s trending, old things as well as new, well-crafted, brand name furnishings, accessories, clothing, jewelry, etc.
Rule 2: Visit showrooms; buy House Beautiful, Veranda, Robb Report, Country, Southern Accents, Traditional Home…magazines to train your eyes and mind to recognize things of quality. In so doing, this new skill will influence your subconscious mind. As a result, you will start to desire a better quality of things for your personal use and home as well. What you are around, you will become influenced by.
Rule 3: If the shopping place isn’t busy, take your time browsing, but when you see something that fits the “eye for valuable things criteria,” put it in your basket. You can change your mind at the register, and don’t take your eyes off your basket. Things have a way of walking around other eagle eye pickers.
Rule 3: Set a budget or you can easily develop a bad habit of buying more than you can afford (believe me I’ve been there) or things that have no re-sale value, so buy smart. If you Need Money to Start or Grow Your eBay Business? We Can Help!
Rule 4: Understand this above all other rules; you “make a profit as soon as you buy an item.” For example, if you pay $2 for a piece of pottery in a thrift store knowing (or not knowing) that the potter is popular, deceased and his work is expensive and highly collectible, and you decide to ask $250 for it online, YOU HAVE ALREADY MADE A PROFIT. Remember: When you see something that fits the “eye for valuable things criteria,” and costs only a few bucks, put it in your basket!
Rule 5: Never examine items with a loupe or magnifying glass anywhere—if you can avoid it. Never brag about your expert eye. Never explain why you’re turning things over to examine them. Never act like an expert or you’ll be charged more. Always act dumb, snap up the item, pay for it, and move on. When that vendor starts to see you on a regular basis they will just think you are a regular buyer.
Follow these rules of developing an eye for finding valuable things at estate sales, garage sales, flea markets… and you will soon be picking and selling like Lynn Dralle, the Auction Queen, and me—whose hands are quicker than the eyes for the valuable stuff!
For the newbie estate sale picker, here is a list of relatively small items that are easy to buy, pack and ship to look for.
Architectural Locks, Hinges…
Art Nouveau & Art Deco
Books, Magazines, Newspapers, Catalogs
China & Glass
Civil War Collectibles
Candles & Candle Supplies
Chairs (Sell to local antique dealers)
Decoys & Shorebirds
Limited Edition Books
Postcards & Trade Cards
Itinerant Artist Artwork
Tonza Borden’s Complete List Of Places & Things To Treasure Hunt
Antique & Collectibles Clubs & Shows
Antique & Collectible Stores
Flea Markets & Swap Meets
Factories & Local Manufacturers
Used Book Stores
Real Estate Clean Outs
Relatives, Friends, Neighbors
Buyer Beware: I have omitted storage units and lockers for a good reason. I am usually out front in the hunt for valuables so I have known about the sneaky tricks such as cutting the lock after non-payment of rent, owner’s removing things of value and “salting” the unit from other sources with a few attractive items placed in front to get bidders excited. I now know my own little sneaky ways to get the goods from these places that I’ll share with you, in another post.
Now that you’re getting good at finding valuable stuff, you don’t know how to price it, right? Start by comparing prices on WorthPoint or eBay. One of my insider tips is to price expensive foreign items according to eBay China, eBay Japan, eBay France, etc. If you decide to price according to these various eBay price points, reduce the prices from 30-60% so that your similar item sells fast. Caution: Just because an item looks identical to what’s shown online or in a magazine does not necessarily mean it is genuine or authentic. Seek the opinion of a qualified appraiser, whom you will have to pay.
An alternative is to shop your rare, expensive find to antique and collectibles connoisseurs. If one is interested in buying it, you will know that you have found a treasure. Never disclose how much you paid for it, and don’t get greedy. TAKE PROFIT! Not only did you make a sweet deal, but the antique dealer will also be interested in future finds of the same and better quality.