Today was it. The grandaddy of all Estate Sales ... kind of. The Preview Weekend at Warrenton.
I wound up heading there by myself when my friend couldn't make the trip. Except for the one and a half hour, out and back, being kind of lonely, it was actually fine shopping by myself. I lingered or sped up as I wanted. I had time to circle back around and check things out. I could wheel and deal knowing I'd never see anyone there again.
I was blown away by the sheer size of this event. I was attending the Preview Weekend, the real sale is next weekend in the towns of Round Top, Warrenton, Fayetteville and two or three other little spots on the map. Today, I was only in Warrenton. I parked the car and spent 6 hours wandering from booth to booth. In those 6 hours I made it approximately 1/4 mile down one side of the road and I'll estimate I entered 100 booths. As far as I could see in front and behind me were more booths. Across the street, more booths. And in the four other small towns, and roads in between, and the mini storage place I passed on the highway getting there were more sales. And people had planned their yard and garage sales for this weekend. It is positively immense.
There seemed to be a heirarchy of booths. At the bottom were the people out in the sun, with a table, selling Happy Meal toys from 6 months ago, and "collectables" from the 90s. One step up were the outdoor sellers with tents and tables and funky junk... I often felt like these guys had good things but weren't too aware of the value (made me happy!). Then the quality of the booth increased as did the goods inside as you added plywood floor, extra fans for the customers, location within a larger tent, location within a building like a dance hall, and so on. Until at the top of the food chain were the dealers of fine antiques and china who operated in one of the meeting halls with power and little food bars inside their buildings.
I was able to find a few things to buy (I'll post those pix tomorrow). But I had the nagging sense that all these vendors know about eBay, so I proceeded with caution. On the drive home, I came to a profound realization. At a typical Estate Sale, the guy running the sale is given his inventory and may or many not be an expert about the values of the items. At a huge outdoor Antiques Show, the person manning the booth not only paid for each of the items in the booth at one time, but also may be working within their specialty and therefore they DO know more than I do about the real value of their goodies. Not always, mind you, there are so many, many objects for sale. But for the most part, someone like me, looking for a great deal to flip on eBay is going to have a harder time. If you are just shopping to please yourself, it's another story.
The last note from the day was that it was really toasty out there. I think we made it to the mid-90s. It was HOT HOT H-O-T. Especially, I found, in the 200 degree honey buckets.