Estate Sale Blues

I am not buying a lot these days. Just a few things here and there. But when I was out running errands I was happily diverted by handmade estate sale sign. (Picture a small neon green sign with wonky lettering). Dang. I had to follow that! At the house there was a ton of good stuff–Blue Willow china, vintage cast iron banks and nutcrackers, old photos, Toby jugs, bar ware, Black Forest carved wood bits, jewelry, crystal dishes, on and on it went.

[I didn’t take photos at the house, but here are a few I found later on in an online advert for the sale.]

I heard the estate sale guy say that it was the “house of a dealer” hence the quantity and quality. But, alas, alas, everything was priced at retail! Everything. My head was spinning at the prices. I got deflated pretty quickly. There was not one thing I could buy and make money on.

When one woman mentioned the high prices the estate sale guy said, “I have to do due diligence to the sellers.” Which is true, but pricing things so high is a mistake. In my neck of the woods I’ll wager at least 75% of the folks that go to estate sales are resellers. This was the first day of a three-day sale and plenty of us walked out empty handed. I know I did. Unless they start lowering prices significantly, this sale will not be successful for anyone. At the end, they’ll still have a houseful of stuff. I’m guessing the dealer is still alive and may have had a hand in the pricing.

Well, it’s like that sometimes…a complete bust!

TIP: Some of the best estate sales I’ve gone to are run by family members. They are very motivated to empty the house, tend to have reasonable prices and are more willing to negotiate. Likewise sales marketed as “liquidation estate sales” tend to be good, though competition is usually fierce.

Thankfully at my little neighborhood thrift store I found this beauty.


It’s a plaster Borghese box with gilding. Even with a few nibbles to the gilding (some of which are part of the distressing done intentionally when it was made) and a chip or two I love it. It has great old world charm. (It was made by Niepold’s in the U.S.)


And online, I bought a watercolor owl painting. It’s just a cute little thing.


I’ve been researching “A. Van Gores” and here’s what I’ve found so far. In her early years listed California artist Alida Van Gores painted seascapes and birds. Later she became a writer and screenwriter known for her novel “Mermaid’s Song” and the TV movie “He’s Not Your Son.” She died young of breast cancer in 1998 at age 47. This painting was likely done in the 1970/80s.


If I were to keep this, I would likely change the matting and frame. Perhaps give it black matting so he really pops.

Hope your hunting has more successful than mine this month!




  1. Shari Harniss

    The first thing I zeroed in on in the first pic was the wallpaper. Oh my! It’s gorgeous! Do you remember if it was only on that small section or more walls? I have wallpaper envy…

    I went to an estate sale two weekends ago. Family run. I noticed that the prices on some of the items in the driveway were a little high. But, I decided to go in the home to check it out. Found a cute Fisher Price wooden puzzle, 70’s maybe, in good shape. It had 50 on it. Now, I’m thinking 50 cents. Ummmm, no. He was asking 50 DOLLARS! Before I could stop myself, I blurted out “You’re kidding?”! He was very serious. You see, he had been on ebay…saw some prices…and decided he should get in on the action. I told him he may want to list EVERYTHING on ebay and see how it goes. I know, I have a big mouth. He was just so smug I couldn’t stand it.

    A fellow shopper and I told his wife she may want to change some prices if she expects to sell anything. I felt sorry for her. She was outside in the heat and humidity. Guess where he was?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Shari, OMG, you’re right the wallpaper is fabulous. I don’t remember seeing it anywhere else in the room, but I feel it must have been somewhere else in this den.

    So sad about the family estate sale you visited! I usually have good luck at family sales, but once folks think they can get eBay prices at an estate sale or yard sale…oh boy it gets crazy. Can’t believe he wanted $50 for a ’70s Fisher Price puzzle! Kudos for calling him out on their pricing!!


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