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Picking at estate sales

Offline MovieMan

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Picking at estate sales
« on: December 02, 2012, 04:15:44 PM »
Estate sales are a mixed bag for me....

...on the one hand once you know the sellers in your area, you know how they price, how they move the crowds through (one uses a 'take a number' machine) and so on, the sale can go well, but timing means a lot here just as luck means a lot in the storage auction business.

In my area the first day crowd will line up one-hour before opening time. I sell at the flea mkt on Saturdays and most of the estate sales in my area are Sat/Sun, so I can either go after the flea or wait until Sunday and get the leftovers.

Yesterday (SAT 12/1/2012) I got rained out so went to the one estate sale around. I was the 10th one through the door and got some good heavy metal cars in boxes, never been opened, a new handheld gps in the plastic molded display card ($5), and a few other things.  Saw a Marx item from 1970 but didn't want to pay the $20 they were asking. Went back today, Sunday Dec 2, and got that for $5. Should sell for $50 or so, but even if less, it will be a winner.

Wheeling and dealing always goes better on the 2nd day and the later in the day the better, but of course a lot of stuff will be gone by then.


Re: Picking at estate sales
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2012, 07:57:13 AM »
I've not had much luck with estate sales that are ran by a company.  Most sales are fri - sun.  I will find one after work on a friday and stop in.  Even by then most 'cheap' items have been picked clean.  Most of the furntiure is either priced high or already gone.  The smalls are a hit or miss.  I did pick up some old style oil lamps for $2 each at one sale.

Now - if I can find the family estate sales -- those do much better.  Is just one giant yard sale for the most part.

Offline Alias300

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Re: Picking at estate sales
« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2012, 09:04:10 PM »
I do very well at estates.

Mostly tools and kitchen wares.   I've yet to find rhyme or reason in the pricing strategy they have.  Really a hit or miss. 

I only do the early, list sign up, thing if there is major tools.  Other wise wait till an hour or two after opening he first day, return last day for 50% off.

Really avoid first day openings if guns are for sale.   WAY to many people and have never found a deal.
One did have an Uzi w/suppressor for $600 but was beat to hell.

Really stick to smalls.   And found with smalls you have a better shot at bundling even on first day.

Offline Alias300

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Re: Picking at estate sales
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2013, 04:24:43 PM »
Today was a total bust tying to pick estate sales.
$20 in gas and $15 at a food truck......came home with nothing.

Plan was to hit three but were so bad went out of my way to others.
Prices were high and really not much there.   Good deals if you were looking to get almost new kitchen stuff and home decor items for personal use.  But way to high of prices for resale.

Ran into one of the thrift store guys and he was buying just because he needs inventory.  Said everything he's gotten in past month is smalls with a $1-$5 markup.



One estate company was actually apologizing.   Said they spent a week going thru and cleaning and organizing the house.  Left on Tuesday and when they showed up Friday the house was half empty!
Family came in and took everything of value.  All the tools, 90% of kitchen, antiques and art.....

They had negotiated a full clean out. So on top of paying 3 people a weeks pay to clean/organize/price, 4 people to work sale.....they still have to empty and clean the house, donate goods and pay dump fee's.

Said there isn't even enough left to sell to cover cost.  The home owners came today and they were trying to figure out a flat fee but to no resolve.

I don't know how you would even sue?   How do you figure your losses in something like that?


Re: Picking at estate sales
« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2013, 05:53:05 PM »
I've picked up a few items lately, but it seems like the majority of the people doing sales lately have been watching too much Pawn Stars, American Pickers, Rick's Restorations, Barter Kings, Storage Wars, etc, and they have unrealistic expectations of the value of their junk!

If you try to educate them, they think you are trying to rip them off.  Most of them think they are expert negotiators too....and hold firm to their outrageous prices!  I can't believe how many call me up after the sale offering me a bunch of picked over crap for about three times retail. 

I had a guy earlier this week......he had some decent furniture, and I would have been comfortable buying it at $800.....maybe a grand, and I could have turned it quick for around $2k.  After his estate sale was over and he didn't sell a single piece, he told me that after discussing it with his wife, he would sell if to me for the "sacrifice" price of only $4K! 

I didn't even bother calling him back.....we're too far apart.....it is worth around 2k......but I can't pay that and make money......at 4k, we're too far about to even mess with it.

Offline Cobia

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Re: Picking at estate sales
« Reply #5 on: February 18, 2013, 09:16:18 AM »
I've picked up a few items lately, but it seems like the majority of the people doing sales lately have been watching too much Pawn Stars, American Pickers, Rick's Restorations, Barter Kings, Storage Wars, etc, and they have unrealistic expectations of the value of their junk!

If you try to educate them, they think you are trying to rip them off.  Most of them think they are expert negotiators too....and hold firm to their outrageous prices!  I can't believe how many call me up after the sale offering me a bunch of picked over crap for about three times retail. 

I had a guy earlier this week......he had some decent furniture, and I would have been comfortable buying it at $800.....maybe a grand, and I could have turned it quick for around $2k.  After his estate sale was over and he didn't sell a single piece, he told me that after discussing it with his wife, he would sell if to me for the "sacrifice" price of only $4K! 

I didn't even bother calling him back.....we're too far apart.....it is worth around 2k......but I can't pay that and make money......at 4k, we're too far about to even mess with it.

Ive found the same thing too. Estate Sales use to be great for picking to re-sell, now they are only SOMETIMES good for getting a deal on something I was going to buy anyway for myself.

I went picking this weekend & now my other venue for getting great deals for re-sale is being infested by novices and retail shoppers. My picks this week are going to have some real tight profit margins.

Although the popularity of storage auctions has come down some, I think the overall popularity of making money by reselling used items or saving money by buying used is increasing. The general public is filtering into all the once hidden venues.

6 years ago, it was all the same faces at estate sales, now huge crowds!
2 1/2 years ago, it was all the same faces at storage auctions, now huge crowds!
3 months ago, it was all the same faces at venue X, now crowds are creaping in!

Offline MovieMan

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Re: Picking at estate sales
« Reply #6 on: February 18, 2013, 09:30:26 AM »
Cobia is right about the estate sales crowd...another regretable result of tv shows.

I still can only go Saturday after I sell at the flea or on Sunday.  One of the 3 big estate sale holders sells on Friday and I usually do well there, though crowds can still be big. The pricing at that vendor is better than the other two also, so that helps.  I do well with the fellow who handles the garage and mechanical stuff for the woman who runs the whole show.

One of my best buys was just at 4 pm on a Saturday close to closing. All day long no-one had any interest apparently in two Pelican boxes with Nikon underwater cameras, another with a plexiglass housing for an underwater movie camera.
They wanted $200 each for the three items and because it was late in the day and the next day Sunday was half off day, I pushed the male seller a bit and got all three for $200.  All sold on eBay (as separate items) for right at $800 making a $600 profit.

That same day (same sale) I found the safe in hall closet. It was fastened to the floor and no-one had explored it very much to see that it could actually come away once you got inside to take the bolt out of the bottom surface. Too top it off, they had the combination but could not get it open.

Again, we were at 4 pm and they were anxious to close. They left me with the combination and I went at it. Took a bit but got it to open. I got inside and found one plastic container with 12 partitioned sections. Little jewelry brooches; most costume but one nice gold piece.  I locked it all back up and told them I would buy it but would have to come back the next day to get it. I got it for $100 and took the combination with me.

Next day, came in, opened it, put the jewelery box in my side bag and removed the bolt from the floor, took the safe home where it is in use today. Gold brought in $125. So a good buy!


Offline Alias300

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Re: Picking at estate sales
« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2013, 03:26:47 PM »
Did well picking estates today....

Old Italian, hand crank, pasta maker for $6.
Few high end camera  tripods for $5/ea.
Camera lens cases, filters, misc parts for $3.
Makita Router for $15
Hoover carpet cleaner for $12.50

Think the only hard sell is camera stuff.  Not sure if its sought after but they threw it in for $3.   Worth the gamble. 

Looking at a few hundred profit, fresh pasta and clean carpets.   I mean, I gotta make sure the stuff works, right?
 

Offline Alias300

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Re: Picking at estate sales
« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2013, 04:37:26 PM »
Almost got a 5x8 enclosed trailer today.  Dual wheel with roof rack and front storage bin. $750
But lost out to another guy. 

Did pick up a lot of like new clothes for myself. $1/ea

Great prices and tons of stuff I'd love to own but nothing really for resell.  Did grab a set of Polk Audio speakers for $20 but haven't researched.  Figured I should be able to get my $20 back at minimum.

At least things are picking up again.  Last couple months its been 2-3 estates a weekend in a 30mile area.
This weekend there is 22.


Offline Alias300

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Re: Picking at estate sales
« Reply #9 on: June 02, 2013, 12:06:42 PM »
I was lazy this weekend and didnt go out picking.

Went Thursday to try and get an antique milkshake mixer but by the time I got there hey figured out what they had and had it priced t retail.

Did find a Foredom rotary tool but its the old model.  Picked for $10.  Might get upwards of $75.
Sending out the copper pots to be fixed. Hope those turn out nice and can flip at a decent price.  Tho after cost I'm going to have some major money into them.

Sales have sucked last couple weeks so not to interested in buying.   I'm pretty shocked I haven't sold the router yet.  Priced to sell and not a nibble.   Same with air tools.   Brand new, never used Snap-On tools priced at 40% of retail and not one email.   Might have to lit on ebay for a larger market....

Oh well, off to hit some estate sales 50% off days and maybe take in some garage sales......

Offline Alias300

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Re: Picking at estate sales
« Reply #10 on: June 05, 2013, 05:38:41 PM »
I've never tried estate sales. The thought of going to some stinky house with stinky people....

Some are pretty bad.   Had a run last week.  Every house smelled like cat piss.
Only twice have I had to leave.  One smelled of feces, the other.....I swear whoever passed away was still in the house.  So bad. 


Offline Alias300

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Re: Picking at estate sales
« Reply #11 on: June 09, 2013, 02:26:18 PM »
Did okay picking this weekend. Not going to make a score but better than the last couple weekends were if you take gas into consideration I broke even or lost money.

Got another Fordom rotary tool.  It's another bench model but an easy sell. Picked for $15, will price at $40.

Then got another rotary tool I've never seen but it had a Dremel flex shaft.  Picked for $7.50, sold shaft for $25 already and mark tool for ?? ....try $20 and see what happens.

Another old school pipe wrench for $2.  That's three.  Once I hit five Ill sell as a lot.  Found its easier to sell them that way.

Nice Stanley machinist vise.  Nothing special. New $45.  Picked for $5, marked at $25. 

Then just a ton of small smalls.  Speciality tool, small kitchen appliances, lab glass.....
Like $2-$10 mark up but easy sell items.

All told I'm estimating about $$150-$200 profit with very little work or time commitment.
And savings have to be added in.  10 cans of scotch guard for $5 (which was actually on my grocery list) About $75 worth of canned goods for $10.  Two, 6pk of new socks for $2.   

This time of year there is just so much compitition.  Not just professional buyers but people just wanting to get out and enjoy the weather.  They are even worse because they don't look at a $40 (new) item that is marked at $25 as no room for profit, they see a savings of $15.   And high crowds means less ability to haggle prices and less likely anything good is left on the last (50% off) day.   

I do admit, its a lot more fun with crowds.  Get to talk to people.  Able to help them on what things are and if its a good price....and vice versa, I've learned so much from the old guys explaining tools or watches or car parts.   But I'll be happy when the thrill is over and it dies down.  Happens every summer. Crowds like this don't last long.....


Re: Picking at estate sales
« Reply #12 on: June 10, 2013, 10:37:15 AM »
The so-called "corporate" estate sales are mostly run by antique dealers, who know the value of everything, and will find the value of something quickly via smartphone or iPad.

True deals are found at sales run by the families themselves- they just want to get rid of the stuff, and do not care about the prices (well, at least most of the time).

Case in point: I went to a sale last Saturday that only had one sign posted amongst the other garage sales in the area. All there was posted on the sign was one arrow, and an address. They didn't even post any more directional signs anywhere.

Being the smart buyer I am, I went back and placed the address in my smartphone, and voila!! There was no one there. The folks who were having the sale were complaining that there were no customers, and that they really had to get rid of everything that weekend, since the house was already sold.

I went into "American Picker" mode, and bought a bunch of great stuff for pennies. Sold enough items on Craigslist nearly immediately to cover my investment. In the words of Storage Wars Texas Doc Moe Prigoff- THIS IS ALL PROFIT- IT'S FABULOUS!!!! And better than a storage unit................

Offline Alias300

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Re: Picking at estate sales
« Reply #13 on: June 10, 2013, 04:54:21 PM »
I have found private sales to be hit & miss.  Usually they value items more and price higher.  But then way under value other items.

Example: guy wanted $100 for his dads chisel set. Dad was an avid carver.  Nice set but well used and going on ebay for $70-ish.   But then he had all the cast iron pans that were slightly rusted (easy fix) for a dollar! 

Over all I find few deals on resale able items but great deals for personal use stuff.

Professionals?
I have three companies I love.  They price fair for family getting money out of estate but still low enough to move a lot and leave room to resell.

Two others own antique/vintage shops.  They price SO high.  I believe it's because they keep wht doesn't sell and sell in shop.  They don't want people to buy it at estate.   Pretty much all the stuff is priced  at or *just* below retail.

Another company is a clean out company.  Holds estate, family gets 40% then he keeps everything...and totally cleans out house.  Garbage, junk cars, junk.....
He always has the highest prices on good stuff because he wants it to sell online.  But all the crap he doesnt want/slow selling is dirt cheap.  Plates at 10 cents.  Clothes at 50 cents. 
Totally scamming the family. 

Re: Picking at estate sales
« Reply #14 on: June 11, 2013, 09:11:13 AM »
Yea, the pricing can be really weird....... I collect records, and went to a sale run by a lady who has been to a lot of estate sales, but never ran one before. She was a friend of the family of the gentleman who has passed away. And most all the items were priced very high, at "retail" or more. If someone complained about the pricing, she said "In two days, everything will be half price" (how nice of her).

After picking through the records and CDs, I found one album that would sell for about $20. Right behind the boxes of records and CDs, there stood three different Lockheed Martin plastic spaceship & rocket models (this person was an engineer for NASA). Of course, I immediately scooped them up, even though they were not priced.

Went to pay for everything, and asked how much the records were. The lady said "wait a minute, I have all the prices for the records written down on this pad of paper- I looked them up on ebay".

I then said "if you looked them all up on ebay, I probably wouldn't be interested". She then found the price on the album. "Eight fifty". Of course, LPs sell for 50 cents- $3 at most every sale. I politely told her that I would pass on the record.

So I then asked her "how much for these three toys"- they are actually very rare "contractor models", only given to certain people involved with the space program. She said $15 would be fine. I offered her $12, and she took it.

Sold the three models for over $1200 on ebay, and I also went back inside and picked up some other NASA items that sold very well. She obviously didn't take the time to research everything in the house!!



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