Estate sales. I have seen numerous blog posts about estate sale how to's, the best type of estate sales, favorite estate sale finds, finding great estate sales, etc...In fact I may have even written one or two myself. This is not going to be one of those posts. I'm here to tell you what estate sales are really like, at least from my perspective.
When trying to describe the estate sale process to friends who are not dealers and have no frame of reference except the occasional impulse stop (late in the day of course) I've used many analogies. I've likened them to a zoo where all the animals have escaped, compared them to the TV show 'Survivor,' lately I've even begun to describe it as dealing with a bunch of pirates. This morning it hit me though, estate sales are like a real life 'Hunger Games.'
When you become a regular player on the estate sale scene you start to familiarize yourself with your fellow competitors, especially the ones vying for the same prize as you. Each one has different tactics and weapons. They may not be literal archers or swordsman but don't get it twisted, they are in fact warriors. There are opponents who use physical force, perhaps body checking, shoving, elbows wherever it counts (yes this has happened to me and no I pose no physical threat at 5'4" and 110 lbs.) There are the ones who are speedy, fast as lightning. Some seem to be equipped with the ability to miraculously grow 10 arms and grab every item in the room with in 5 seconds (I call them Hoovers.) Then there are the ones that use their minds instead of physicality. Jedi mind tricks. 'You don't need this sale, there's a better one 2 miles away, go ahead I'll take over the numbers so you can go. You don't want this item, look at all the flaws, it's so overpriced, what is the company thinking?' (They then proceed to buy said item the minute you set it down.) Beware the mind games, they may hurt less than a knock on the head but can be just as devastating. You will kick yourself (mentally) for days afterwards.
Furthermore, these sportsmen (and women) may have sponsors in the form of companies or other dealers that they've formed alliances with. Don't take for granted that though you are number one in line you will get the item you want, it may not be there anymore, it have been conveniently (for someone else conveniently) moved, it may have mystically vanished and ended up in number 21's bag. You got there at 5:45 in the morning and were number 127 on the list? Don't think number 1 didn't call up 126 of his closest friends and tell them to get there butts down there by 10:00am.
The only rule seems to be that there are no rules. When they say all is fair in love and war I'm sure that the term 'war' included estate sales. Sometimes it's an all out brawl, sometimes is a passive aggressive cold war. Keep in mind that while you may have formed an alliance with someone at a previous sale, all bets are off at the next one. Also, the guy in line screaming his lungs out about 'fairness' (especially in regards to names on the entry list or giving out numbers) is probably the slipperiest, shadiest one of all. The sweet old lady who kindly asks you what you're there for, she's there for the same item & now has a leg up because she knows what you want but you don't know she also wants it.
In the end, it's all about survival of the fittest. Using your wiles, playing the game. For some this means duplicity, for others outright aggression or intimidation. For me, I try very hard to put my blinders on and run my own race (sometimes it works, sometimes I end up a sweating, screaming mess in my car yelling at every driver on the road on my trip home.) But at least in this game if I do lose at a sale I live to fight another day. Usually. (In all seriousness though, if I'm mysteriously missing, check the locked closet.)