Thursday, October 30, 2014

Profitable Adventures

Last weekend James and I hit up several estate sales in the area.  We really haven't done a lot of estate sales over the years, we have always been more into auctions, but sometimes our favorite auction houses only hold sales every other month- the waiting in between makes us itch! This seems to be a busy time of year for great estate sales, and the lovely bright cool weather doesn't hurt one bit.  We went to four sales and walked away with nice purchases from three of them.  The fourth sale, well let's just say the folks had "retail" prices on everything- nice items, but for anyone buying to resell, they were way too high.  We are not experts by any stretch of the imagination- we buy what we are attracted to ourselves.  There are things that I see that may be worth money, but if I look at it and turn up my nose, I keep walking.  In the back of my mind, I know that if I don't ever sell an item, eventually it's going to be "mine"!

James and I use a website- to find sale locations and times.  I'm sure there are other websites, but a friend showed us this particular one so it's what we use.  (We have another website just for auctions.)  And when we go to sales that we like, we make sure to sign up for that company's emails so we always get advance notice and photos of upcoming sales.  This last Saturday, we left the house early in the morning and got back late in the afternoon.  I told him, it's fun to be able to stay around town and enjoy a day out.  We go to areas of the county where we normally don't go, and find new roads, new sites. We never ask "why" they are having an estate sale, but many times when you walk in, you know right away that the homeowner was elderly and is no longer living in the house.  And in many cases, the home is for sale as well.

The first estate sale was a big country house set way off the road, in a nice clearing with a small pond.  Really pretty, the type of house with the huge rocking chair porch that takes up the entire front of the home.  It was in Sharpsburg, which sort of runs into Newnan- hard to say where one town ends and the other begins.  I'm not sure Sharpsburg is an actual town, so much as it is just an area of the county.  Most estate sales are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.  We always go on Saturdays.  Yes, most of the items have been picked through, but also most of the sales on the last day have slashed prices.  I think all the sales we went to, were all 25-50% off everything.  The Sharpsburg sale had mostly small items left, but that's what I'm looking for.  I picked up three little plates, one of which was a Bing & Grondahl Christmas plate.  I was pleasantly surprised at the deal that I got.  The other small plate with the scene of a street market, I was able to identify as one of a set of four porcelain plates made in France.  The third piece, a hand-blown glass bowl signed by the artist, I was not able to find anything online about it.  And it's very possible that it wasn't a commercial piece but something one of a kind made by an artisan.  I plan to list each piece in the shop for $10.

The second estate sale was right up the road, but it turned out to be more of a yard sale, and they were priced way way too high, even though they were 50% off as well.  Still too high.  We looked around briefly, but headed over to the next county.

The next estate sale was over in Peachtree City, at a half-million dollar home in a golf and lake community.  They were priced a bit high as well, but as expected they had super nice quality items and collectibles.  Again, I try to look for small things that I can ship easily and keep the costs down for a potential customer.  If I had a real brick store, or a booth at a market, I would shop the estate sales in a completely different manner.  But right now, since we are just on Etsy, I've got to keep shipping costs in my mind at all times.  Still, at this sale I was able to find a few small goodies.  Nicer items, but because I paid more for them, I won't make as much money when I sell them.  The Currier & Ives miniature plates of the four seasons are beautiful, but I found several sets listed (and not selling) on eBay- so I'm not sure how I will price those as they were the most expensive item I bought that entire day.  The small Thomas Beauchamp plate, and the hand-painted blue paisley ashtray set, both had markings on the backsides so I could trace the companies and countries they each came from.  The porcelain foxhound figurine has "Japan" stamped on the bottom, but nothing else, so I haven't been able to find out anything on this piece.  I believe he had a sticker on him at one time, because I had to clean residue off.  He was so cute though, I couldn't pass him up.  I'm going to keep looking online to see if I can find out more about him.

The last estate sale had us going all the way over to yet another county.  A little far to drive, but it gave us a chance to eat at one of our favorite restaurants out that way- the quirky but always delicious (and super busy!!) Broadway Diner.  And as a fun surprise, we found that the downtown was holding a fall festival so we stopped there as well.  There were a lot of small glass items at this last sale, but also a lot of items with chips or cracks.  I always carry a magnifying glass with me so I can check items over thoroughly as I am not interested in selling damaged items in my shop.  If something is cracked, no matter how much I like it, I pass.  James was able to find some goodies for himself at this sale- a large box filled with golf stuff.  This sale was also 50% off, and they still had plenty of items left to pick over.  I came away with two pretty green glass Tiara cups with the daisy pattern, and just in time for the holidays a nice set of Christmas tree-shaped aluminum molds.  I am always looking for vintage kitchenware as it's quite popular and selling well online.  Plus I love molds because I can always use them for my own crafts if I "get stuck" with them.


I try not to look at the individual items as much as the entire day's purchase, when I think about the money part of it. On the items I paid a little more for, I won't be able to ask that much, but on some of the items where I got a fantastic deal, I know I'll be able to make a good profit.  My total purchase price on this last Saturday, for all 9 items, added up to only $35.  So I try to look at the "total" money invested, not just item by item.  I've got plenty to list right now, so I'll be busy for awhile with the vintage shop.  I'm not sure we'll go to any sales this coming weekend, as we start packing for our next vacation the following week.  And when we get to my parents' house, we'll be spending a few days there digging through their attic and closets so I'm sure we'll come home with even more great stuff to list.  Lucky we have a basement where we can keep all these things!!!


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