Wednesday, October 10, 2007

And the door opens...

So here's what an estate sale feels like to me....

Sometimes there is a line out front, because the house is little and they are limiting entry. Sometimes there are numbers in a little box before the sale, and so the people in line are arranged in numerical order. Sometimes I get there a little later and I walk just in. The suspense is greater if I have to wait, but so is the frustration. I usually spend the time trying to assess the people in front of me. Are they looking for my stuff? There is usually "The Tool Guy", "The young family looking for sheets", "The old couples who just walked up after their 7am walk around the neighborhood". The ones I worry about look just like me. I know I'll see them inside with my funky stuff. If they have a baby in tow, I usually prevail, because they are half aware of what's going on.

So now I'm next in line, and finally, IN!. First, the smell. Old house, someone else's house. It is funny how many houses in Central Austin feel the same, with similar arrangements. Usually the front living room has the good stuff, china, things in display cases like jewelry, watches, tiny spoons. (If you are a tiny spoon collector, go to estate sales!). Usually the good furniture has all been pulled to the front. I bypass that room.

I generally head to the hall with the bedrooms. I glance inside each and stop at the one most likely to have toys. There is almost always one that has office type stuff, one that has all the linens, and one that has the little knick knack junk and toys (if any). That is my room. I scan high and low, grabbing things I'm going to consider. Looking low is important, because under the tables are some good things.

After that room, I generally look in the other rooms for paper goods like old stationary, Peanuts stickers like my grandmother used to put on our greeting cards, old children's books. I look through tables of vintage table cloths, I look at clocks on the wall, I look at luggage. I look for old Girl Scout stuff. I look for old holiday stuff, especially Halloween. All this time I'm moving pretty quickly.

Then I break into the den, another good spot for me historically. Weird stuff gets into the den, postcard collections, sometimes some cool framed things. I always have the "oh no" memories of past sales. Once I half heartedly flipped through the first few picture frames in a box on the floor. They were mostly old diploma frames, but as soon as I gave up, and a lady flipped through she found the most awesome tiny print, for a dollar or something. It was wonderful. That smartened me up.

The thing I missed in a garage once was an old pencil box like I used to use in elementary school. So now I'm heading generally toward the kitchen and garage end of the house. Now I'm looking for mid-century Tupperware, serving dishes, Nambe!, clocks on the wall. I'm on a mission for covered baking dishes, aluminum ones which have a lid that slides on and off. I'm going to give one to a friend when I find one. (Hi JH!)

Then I'm in the garage. Often this is a place for old toys, but since "Old Tool Guys" and "Fishing Lure Guys" hole up here, I'm safer to let this place sit until the end. I've found great toys in the garage, but often they are dirty and more beat up. For erector sets, that's not so much of a problem. I also look here for camping stuff. Old pots for my Girl Scout troop. Camp stoves.

Then depending on the time, I stroll back through again. Generally I've seen it all the first time. I take whatever I've found to the check out person. There are several estate sale companies who run sales in my part of town frequently. So I half know the crew running the sale. I look at what my competitors picked out. I lust for the things I missed the first time through that they got, but that doesn't really happen much.

Then I get to the car and try for another sale.

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