17 Common Sense Estate Sale Shopping Tips
We have a great estate sale set up and ready for shoppers to grab the best stuff this weekend in Hollywood Hills, CA. We love our estate sale customers and we have repeat shoppers at our estate sales in client homes everywhere from Bakersfield, to Tehachapi, to Lancaster, Palmdale, Rancho Cucamonga, Santa Clarita, Van Nuys and Hollywood. It always amazes me how far people will come when we have the right mix for them and enough notice to allow them to make it to our estate sale. I got positive feedback from an anonymous shopper recently and thought I would put together a list for estate sale shoppers of things that can help you get you what you want when you want it.
PRESUMING that you want deals and you want them now. If so, read on.
Your estate liquidator usually has between two and four days to liquidate an entire estate. Many of us have a team of people helping us and we have been diligently setting up, marketing and researching our sale for several days or weeks before we open for your shopping pleasure. We might be a tad stressed out and sleep deprived before the sale, but we are excited that you are there. We want to sell out and we want our customers and the client who hired us to liquidate their property both to be happy with the results.
We work on commission and we have been hired by the estate to maximize their proceeds.
So here are handy tips to help you get a great deal as an estate sale shopper:
- Do follow our system. Every liquidator has a system for getting you in the door. Some let a whole group in at once no matter how many are there to encourage a frenzy, some keep greater control with numbers or lists. Don't stand in our line telling us how someone else does it or what you think we should be doing instead of what we are doing. If you really have a suggestion, make it in private. Yelling at us while we are opening up is not going to put you in good standing or snag you a spot on our good deal list. If you expect any kind of deal after yelling at us in front of all of our other shoppers, you are going to be disappointed.
- Do offer to help. We might arrive early with equipment to carry in, or tables to set up at the last minute, or numbers to pass out to your fellow shoppers. Folks who ask me if I need any help are always appreciated. Even if I say "No, I have it covered," I still noticed who seems like they are paying attention and willing to make things a little easier.
- Do give us space. If we are still getting things ready, don't crowd us, we often need an hour before the sale to set up last minute items or hang signs. We are focused on these details, so coming over and asking us all your questions while we are trying to do other things is just not appreciated. Sorry.
- Know when to ask. I always appreciate it when someone calls or writes ahead and asks about their items or concerns rather than showing up and needing instructions at the opening bell. For example, if you want to know if we do pre-sales or if we can ship items or where something is physically located. We are busy right before a sale, but if you have never been to a sale or had a bad experience at another sale and I can answer your concerns BEFORE you get in line on opening day, I want to. Some companies won't have time to answer any questions before a sale and some just don't as policy, but in my case, I do my best to address your concerns before we arrive. If you want to know something I can't answer before a sale, I will let you know that. Also, knowing specific items that people are interested in is helpful, if I know 7 shoppers are dying to get their hands on a fragile piece of glass, I am going to better be able to keep it protected during the first rush of sale - which means it is less likely to be damaged and more likely to go home with you!
- Do be discrete. Yelling out that my prices are too high or you will give me half of what I am asking for something is going to result in an immediate refusal. If other shoppers hear me give you that discount, they are all going to expect similar treatment, and you have set me up to haggle all day or to lose half my proceeds. If half off really is your best offer, let us know discretely and ask us what we can do. Worst case scenario for you is that I will let you know at what point I think I might be able to accept your price or I will tell you how to leave an offer. Best case scenario is I might be able to accept your offer if you are discrete.
- Keep your word. If you ask me if I will accept a certain price on an item, and then change your mind after I say yes, I am not going to take you seriously in the future. And don't be the person who stacks up their pile and says they are buying it only to ask me for a discount later when they are ready to pay. If you tell me you are buying it, I am expecting you to be buying it at the price we have on it or at that day's discount, if applicable. If you are buying a lot and are expecting additional discounts for buying a lot, you need to talk to me about it before you make a huge pile of goodies and keeping other shoppers from the opportunity to buy. This is frowned upon and you may be costing me a sale at the price I wanted. You wouldn't want to do that to me, right?
- Make sense. Does it make sense to ask me my best price on something and then argue with me to get an even better price after I answered your inquiry with my best price? No, it makes no sense. If I tell you my best price is $30, don't counter at $25. If you don't want to pay $30, then don't. If you don't want to know my best price, then don't ask for it.
- Don't be silly. Don't ask me silly questions like what is the least I will take for something. When I hear that question I think, "What is the most you will pay for it?" Do you want me to ask you that every time I see you from now on?
- Don't compare. Our sales are not garage sales or thrift stores. We are selling a person's lifetime of treasures and a family's heirlooms. This is not a bunch of junk that has been sitting around unwanted in the garage, you might have once found the same item I have in the garage sale of a person who didn't know an item's value, but don't tell me my prices are too high and that you can buy sterling rings, or gold necklaces for .25 cents at a garage sale. These aren't things that have been donated for free, again, don't be silly and tell me what something costs at a thrift store, you aren't at a thrift store.
- Research besmirch. The item you are looking up on your phone, has already been researched by me. If you want me to price match ebay, consider the shipping costs, the risk of an online sale and the value of a first hand examination of what you are buying.
- Spread the word. Let your friends and neighbors know about us. We appreciate that and bringing in new customers is great justification for giving you a great deal every now and then.
- Don't argue with me. If I have to collect sales tax or have a system you don't like, arguing with me is not going to get you anywhere. I run a business and I have to follow laws and policies, don't waste everyone's time trying to get me to waive your sales tax - would you do that at any other store? Then don't do it here either.
- Don't hide inventory. If I catch you trying to hide something so you can come back later for it at a discount, or worse yet, trying to hide a good item under a pile of low end things and telling me all you have is "just junk" at checkout - I will never forget that and I am not going to want to be doing you any favors on pricing. I might even ban you from my sales.
- Don't be difficult or make a mess. Pulling tags, switching tags, and the like are things we notice. Tearing up a stack of neatly folded linens and leaving them a mess is not cool. You are disrupting my sale and making more work for me. If you take a $20 price tag off something and then ask me how much it is, the price is going up to $30 to make up for the extra work you just created.
- Do be our eyes and ears. If you spot someone trying to steal, switching labels, or taking more than they paid for, or hiding treasures let us know discretely who it is and what they are up to.
- Move on. After a sale is over, unless you are interested in buying out the bulk contents, or entire categories, or a big ticket item, don't expect to keep shopping. If you saw a $10 blanket you liked and you didn't buy it then, EVEN if it is still available, I am not driving back to the estate to meet so I can add an extra $1 to my profit on the sale, I have other estates that need my attention. And if you made me an offer on a big item that is no longer available, don't bug me with questions about how much it did sell for or comments about how much you wanted it or would have paid. If you want it the time to buy it is during the sale.
- Manners count. Say, "Thanks." And remember smiling is my favorite, it goes a long way.