Feb 7, 2012

Finding Vintage Sheets: Estate Sales

A great source for vintage sheets is estate sales. Estate sales are sales for the purpose of liquidating the contents of a home because of a death or for some other reason like facilitating a move to a nursing home. Because the contents of the home usually belong to an older person, the items are typically vintage.

The following are some tips for scoring great sheets for a great price at estate sales.

Finding an Estate Sale
Shopping at estate sales can be a little tricky because the location is always different. It takes a little bit of planning but it can be really fun and rewarding. There are many companies that specialize in hosting estate sales. Most have their own websites and email lists. I encourage you to find out who these companies are in your area and getting on their lists.

My go-to source for finding upcoming estate sales is EstateSales.Net. They have a clickable map for the U.S. and Canada that can alert you to upcoming sales. I also strongly recommend signing up for their email list. They advertise the sales of multiple companies who belong to their network.
Craigslist is a good source for folks living outside of the U.S. and Canada. It also has ads for a lot of sales that are conducted by smaller companies or  by the families themselves.

I've also had some luck finding estate sales on PennysaverUSA. Just put "estate sale" in the find box, put in your city, and then specify the number of miles away you are willing to go. Like Craigslist, these are often conducted by smaller companies and by families.

And, don't forget to check your local newspaper. Estate sales are listed in the classified ads.

Before the sale
Estate Sales are all a little different but there are some common threads. Read the details of the sale before you go but some good things to remember are:
  • Get there early. Sometimes only a limited number of shoppers are allowed in the home at a time. You may need to grab a number or sign a list.
  • Go on the first day of the sale for the best selection. However, you might get lucky on a later day of the sale and get your items for a reduced price as the sale winds down.
  • Bring cash. Not all companies accept credit cards. And, even if they do take cards, using cash can sometimes lead to a discounted price.
  • Bring your own bags.
  • Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. You might have to stand around a long time or have to crouch down to get to the good stuff.

At the Sale
There are many people who are estate sale "regulars." Don't feel threatened by these folks. They may be Ebay Sellersm antique dealerm or avid collectors. You might hear some interesting chit chat from them and you might even make a new friend. Also,
  • Check drawers and closets (unless marked otherwise.)
  • Check the garage. It may be an unlikely spot but sometimes there are hidden gems out there.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for a lower price. Some sales have posted prices, others not so much. Have in mind how much you want to spend for your items before you go to check out.
Finding vintage sheets at an estate sale can be hit or miss. You probably won't find "vintage sheets" listed in the sale description or pictured in the posted photos. You might see the words, "vintage linens" which could mean old towels, tablecloths or doilies. It's a gamble but it just might pay off.

Good luck. I hope these tips are helpful for you. Let me know if I forgot something and I'll add it. I will also be posting tips on other ways to find vintage sheets. If you haven't already shared, please leave me a comment on how you find your vintage sheets.



Heidi said...

This is a good primer about estate sales. I hit estate sales regularly and often find vintage sheets. I look in bedrooms and hall closets first. I also use estate sales.net and preview sales to choose ones with lots of vintage stuff. Or try for ones in neighborhoods known for lots of senior citizens. Beware, though, you'll probably find lots of other vintage goodies too!

Deborah Anne said...

Thank you for the great advice! I'm a thrift store shopper, but have lately been getting into estate sales.