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Estate Sale Shopping Tips

Tori Spelling on Shopping Estate Sales

We're excited to bring you a new post from mother and actress Tori Spelling! Every other week we're bringing you the best parenting and lifestyle advice from ediTORIal by Tori Spelling, which is Tori's daily blog about everything from food and fashion to parenting and relationships. This week Tori teaches us how to shop an estate sale.

Estate sales are a great place to find everything at a range of price points, from furniture to antiques to art to jewelry and vintage clothing. You never know what you’re going to find when you enter one, and each estate sale is different.

Here’s a little bit of background about what they are and how they work:

First of all, the term "estate" in this context refers to the belongings that an individual has accumulated over a lifetime. Estate sales are held for all sorts of reasons – sometimes people are moving or just want to get rid of stuff! An estate sale is different than a yard sale in that a company is usually hired to run the sale. It’s a lot of work; so for many families, it’s well worth it to work with an experienced company.

Insider Tips First, get there early! The best stuff goes the fastest, so you want to have first dibs. It’s easy to feel like a kid in a candy store at an estate sale, so arrive with a budget in mind and stop at an ATM on the way — many estate sales accept cash only. Even if the sale accepts cards or checks, bringing a set amount of cash will help you to stick to your budget.


People shop estate sales for all sorts of reasons. Collectors go to find rare and beautiful pieces to add to their collections. You can also shop for furniture, clothes, or items like gardening tools and kitchen utensils that were made with more care back in the day.

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Be picky, and arrive with a list in mind. Don’t buy $100 worth of antique dolls if you came intending to find a mosaic table for your patio. Stay open to inspiration — maybe you find a smooth, slate table you’d rather have instead — but don’t set yourself up for buyer’s remorse. When you decide what you’d like to buy, get ready to bargain! The more you buy, the more leverage you have.

Shop Around Want to get started shopping estate sales? Go to to find sales near you. For many sales, you can even view the items on sale in advance, so you can plan what you want to buy.

I usually research what estate sales are in the area and come up with a game plan, but this one we just randomly drove by. Score!

Entering the estate sale. Always get a little rush wondering what treasures lie ahead.

Love all these sea treasures. They have so many uses! Great for display on tables, mantles, armoires, or shelves. Also make great bookends, paperweights, door stoppers, or centerpieces! If shells look a little not so fresh, a little bleach will whiten and brighten them right up! Or be creative and lacquer them gold or silver.

Small tchotchkes are great to sort through to find gifts for friends or family that have collections.

A beautiful Indian fabric would make chic pillows, napkins, place mats, or part of your wardrobe! Think outside the box when sorting through estate sale treasures. But try to buy with an endgame in mind.

Not sure exactly what I'll do with this vintage kids fabric but it was a must have for $15! In the kids playroom it could make adorable throw pillows.

Estate sales can be for the serious shopper, seller, decorator, or collector, or can be a social outing. I love going with my friends who love antiques as much as I do. We make a fun day of it! We grab coffee on the way (early bird gets the worm), pop in and out of local sales, and then discuss our great (or sometimes lack of) finds over a fun, weekend brunch.

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