I passed up going to two estate sales last weekend, but couldn’t resist dropping in on one in my neighborhood. Literally on the next street over. I popped in on the second day of the sale, in the last four hours, not sure what I’d find, but thinking I would at least be able to get a deal for one of my online stores.
I went through the small house twice trying to find some gem. What I found was a lot of old record albums (not my thing), cheap knickknacks, huge pieces of ham radio equipment, generic tools, touristy mass-produced African wood statues (which always creep me out) and a few overpriced mid-century clocks.
But I kept looking. In the tiny kitchen I found a small glass embossed medicine bottle with a cork stopper, but it had all the indications of being a repro. (The cork and the bottle were too clean, too perfect, too unused.) A vintage white ceramic planter of two reclining deer was a possibility. Was hoping it might be made by Shawnee or a similar maker, but alas it was unmarked and had a few spots and at $15, even if they dropped the price to $10, it just wouldn’t be worth it.
As I continued looking I thought, “Surely I can find ONE thing to buy?!”
The best I could find was a vintage photography book (“Graphic Graflex Photography, 1948). Clean inside, but with a slightly warped back cover, a little wiggle to the spine and no dust jacket. But it seemed like a cool book with some great black and white photos. Certainly a possibility for my bookstore.
Now, most books at estate and rummage sales are modestly priced. So on this second day, in these last few hours, I offered $1.00 thinking this would be fine. The woman at the checkout table looked aghast. “Oh no,” she said and conferred with a co-worker a few feet away. She told him the publishing date of the book (not the title or the condition) and that it was the third printing of the eighth edition. This seemed an odd way to value a book. He said “$10” which surprised the heck out of both us. The checkout gal countered, “Can we do better than that?” He reluctantly dropped the price down to $6.
I didn’t have to think twice about this. This was a crazy price. I was sure it was not a rare book, nor was it in great condition. “I’ll pass then,” I said as I put my money back in my purse and walked out.
This was the first time I have ever left a sale without buying something, but probably not the last. I envy those more experienced pickers who would have been able to find a cool, undervalued item in all that flotsam and jetsam on the tables. Or who would have been able to negotiate a better price. Some day I’ll get there!
Would love to hear about your great estate sale finds!