Have you ever attended an estate sale? Recently, my assistant, Alicia, joined me for her first ever estate sale. Expect the unexpected is what I told her. And never let the outside of a house lead you to make presumptions about the inside of a house. You can’t judge a book by its cover.Read More
I have reclaimed the basement. It is mine. All mine.
Do I sound greedy? Territorial?
Look, it’s been four years since I started a business in our basement. My inventory, shipping supplies, and photography equipment competed for space with a drum kit, a weight bench, video game consoles, air soft guns, guitars, amps, a fooz-ball table, etc. I gazed upon walls covered with graffiti murals and family photos.Read More
Today's post is Part One in a new series called "What Not to Buy New." I've grouped vintage objects into still life compositions to illustrate that the patina of time makes things more beautiful.
I'm not alone in this opinion. This week, Martha Stewart proclaimed that "old is the new black." The latest issue of Veranda Magazine uses the word 'vintage' ten times in the first five articles. The CEO of One King's Lane says that his company can't keep enough vintage in stock to satisfy the thirst of their tens of thousands of customers.Read More
I'm hanging out my sign. And going to bait my hook. Because in my world, the salmon are running. I mean to say that this is the height of the vintage season with estate sales, antique fairs, outdoor flea markets, and garage sales taking place every other day. Plus, if you have been to my shop lately, you'll notice that the pickings are getting a little thin. So I'm off to fish.
Come to think of it, stocking my shop is like fishing. It takes time for each vignette to come together. Often I'm searching for months for the right elements. Then comes the photography, which is like cleaning the fish. I'm picky about that. And finally I weigh and measure and write up descriptions. That's akin to battering the fish, frying them crispy, and serving them up with some nice sides.Read More
In my line of work, I see the drama play out nearly every week. At your garage and rummage sales, I purchase the things that your grown children don't want. And it's killing you. Recently, a woman whimpered to me as I bought her beautiful but fragile cane chair with a floral seat needlepointed by her great great aunt: "My son won't take it," she lamented. "Really?" I asked. "Does he know that his ancestor probably raised, harvested, spun, and dyed the wool in that cushion? That she probably sacrificed her good eyesight for that cushion?" She looked at me and shook her head. "He doesn't care. It's too Grandma-looking."
Kids these days! What are we to do when we need to downsize our possessions but they don't or can't take the things we've held on to -- for years -- with them and their homes in mind?Read More
The woman in line ahead of me asked the woman in line behind me a question: "Who owned this place?" I stepped aside so the answer could be conveyed: "A physician by the name of Emmett or Bennett or Barnett," came the response. The first woman exclaimed, "Oh! Well if it's Dr. Emmett, I'll be darned because he was my doctor!"
Inside the condo, I saw that Dr. Emmett/Bennett/Barnett had a penchant for travel to exotic locales. He collected wonderful artifacts from the South Seas, the Orient, Africa, and Australia. I grabbed a couple of inlaid mosaic tables that looked like they came from Morocco.Read More
This collection is called Prairie Textures and it comes with two interesting stories. The first is about the unframed canvas. It is a watercolor study of a calf and I think it is wonderful. Unsigned but wonderful. Such thick cottony paper. Such expertly mixed colors. I admire the confident brush strokes. And the economy of brush strokes as well.
I bought it from the estate of a gentleman who had sold the family's dairy farm to move to the Big City, meaning Milwaukee. He lived in a loft apartment down in Bayview and his place was kitted out like a 1960s bachelor pad. Swanky barware, Danish teak furniture, a stunning collection of Blenko blown glass, stacks and stacks of vinyl, very expensive audio equipment, and really good lighting. Not at all what I expected from a former dairyman.
If you are a resale junkie, this is that magical time of year when estate sales abound. I am a woman whose business is the hunt and I promise you that finding great stuff is not as simple as being at the right place at the right time. There is skill involved too once you get there. Here are eleven ways to outsmart the competition at estate sales.
No. 1 - Bow Down to the Estate Sale Boss
Behind every estate sale is a boss. They are a tough lot. And for good reason. Can you imagine coming into a house with a lifetime's worth of accumulation and sorting it, researching it, pricing it, and selling it to bargain hunters within a very short period of time? They are the opposite of hoarders. They are purgers. They don't tolerate sentimentality so don't even try. The best of them have precise systems in place to speed up the process. Just find out what they require and do that.Read More