Skunked Again!

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.

Photo by Julie Folsom.

Photo by Julie Folsom.

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?!”

Photo from eBay auction.

eBay photo

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!


  1. I rarely go to estate sales but love auctions and go to a local one weekly. I’ve learned not to be shy when bidding, especially when it’s something I really want. Do you go to auctions?


    1. Hi Patricia! There are not too many auctions around here, but the ones I have found are usually too high-end for me or selling goods I know nothing about, like paintings or Asian jade pieces 😦 Karen


      1. Hi Karen! Oh I know, we have auctions around here like those too but the one I usually go to has a little bit of everything which I love. I can’t even remember life before my vintage business! I love it 🙂 Trish


  2. I agree that the estate sale person priced the book a tad too high for an estate sale, especially if he was only basing his price on the age of the book. However, the man might actually know his books. That specific book sales for anywhere from $10-45 online, and more in stores. When I price an estate sale item, I walk a very narrow line between too high and too low. I will usually price about half what an item typically sells for online because I know that most of my shoppers sell online and need to make money. However, just because you want to only pay a dollar for something, that doesn’t mean I have to sell at that price if I know it is worth more. Hopefully, though, you will have better luck at your next sale.


    1. Thanks for your comment TrueFinds. I appreciate hearing your perspective from the other side of the coin!!

      Here’s my two cents…

      In all of the estate sales I’ve been to in my area, books tend to be priced very modestly (at $1.00 to $4.00) unless it’s a rare book that’s tagged as such. As it was nearing the end of the sale, I knew my offer wasn’t out of line, BUT I was OKAY with them declining my offer…of course. 😉 I just doubted that I could pay $6.00 and still make much money after Etsy and Paypal fees.

      I actually do a lot of research (eBay, Etsy, alibris, amazon, etc.) before I price the books in my store and I find that there is usually a WIDE price variance with books of the same edition, condition, etc. Someone may list a book for $45, but that doesn’t mean he/she will sell it at that price when there are dozens of similar editions, in similar condition available for $12 or $15.

      Thanks again for commenting. I hope my posts aren’t like a thorn in the flesh!


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