I go to yard sales every single Saturday to both buy things that I might like to own, or that I find that can save me money (a dehumidifier for $5 instead of $125) and for things that I can sell on eBay. I am a Ph.D. student at Tulane University, and though I teach and receive a stipend, it is still below $13k for the year. I sell stuff on eBay so that I can avoid a second job which would take me away from my studies and my wife and daughter. The best types of sales to find things I can resell at are estate sales. Today I went to 3 different estate sales here in New Orleans. I would like to clarify the definition of what constitutes an "estate" sale for those people who seem to be abusing the term lately. Estate sale means that one of two things has happened:
#1 Someone has died and the sale is selling off their excess possessions that the family doesn't want.
#2 Someone has become too old and feeble to live by themselves and they are moving into an assisted living type establishment.
Any other use of "estate" to describe your sale is unauthorized and misleading. Moving houses and selling a sofa and a bunch of oven dishes isn't an estate sale. A baby boomer selling off your collection of crap you've spent your fifty-some-odd years compiling so you can buy a cabin in the woods in Idaho isn't a bloody estate sale. Of the three sales that I went to today, only one complied with the rules that I've listed above. Unfortunately for me, the person had many children who lived here locally, because there was nothing interesting for sale. The other two were bourgeois baby boomers who wanted ridiculous amounts for mundane items. Potted plants started at $20 if you can believe.
The best estate sales for me are when someone is an only child that lives so far away that they had to fly here for the funeral. They just want to sell the house, so they are looking to move everything. Those are the sales where I find treasures. Sometimes I even tell the people that something they're asking a $1 for is worth $25. I once went to an estate sale where a lady was asking $300 for a masterpiece of an art deco bookshelf that had inlay and was just fabulous. I told her that she shouldn't take a penny less than $600. By chance she had a sale again the next week and I forgot that I had been to that address. Out of curiosity I went back to see about the bookshelf; it had sold for $700. It was probably worth $1000. I love estate sales, and though some might argue that I'm profiting off of the death of others, I counter that I am merely helping to recycle things that have fallen out of use, and giving them a second life.