Finding the Diamond in the Rough

Written by traderchris on . Posted in Uncategorized

I’m usually so busy with consignments that I rarely get a chance to go out and look for items to buy and re-sell on my own. However, this past week, I received an e-mail from for a sale that was too good to pass up. The location was in Fearrington Village, about a 10-minute drive from my home. The items being sold were top notch, a nice mixture of antiques, luxury goods, and smaller collectibles. There were even good pictures posted with enough information for me to do some pricing research beforehand.

I woke-up early the next morning to get ready for the sale. Knowing it would be cold and that I might be waiting around for a few hours, I dressed in several layers, packed myself a little snack, and even prepared myself a travel mug full of piping hot coffee. I put a bunch of empty boxes and packing material in the car and headed off, excited about the morning’s prospects.

When I pulled into the neighborhood about 10 minutes later (and two hours before the start of the sale), imagine my surprise when I saw dozens of cars already lined-up along both sides of the street. “Oh no,” I thought, “other people know about the sale, too!”

I parked and quickly grabbed my gloves, hat, and small folding stool and headed towards the house, not realizing that I had left my mug of hot coffee in the car until it was too late. When I arrived, I felt a little more relieved, as there were only 10-15 people in front of me… or so I thought. A few minutes later, I overheard someone murmuring about “the list”.

“List?” I thought to myself. “What are they talking about?” Then I saw a yellow pad sitting on the steps with names and numbers. By the time I added my own name to the list at 7:15, there were 82 people ahead of me.

This baffled me. There were obviously not 80 people standing in front of me, so how could this have happened? I began to catch snippets of conversations from others in line. Apparently, there were seasoned estate sale stalkers that would go to great lengths to get prime positioning on “the list”. Some would come by the night before to start a list, while others may arrive at 5 am to get on the list, then sleep in their cars for a few hours. I even heard a few stories about unscrupulous attendees that had stolen or destroyed lists when others weren’t looking, just so that they could get a higher spot.

As it got closer to 8:00 aScreen Shot 2014-04-30 at 11.01.40 PMm, when numbers were to be handed out for the entry order, people started coming out of the woodwork. It was like a swarm of estate sale locusts! A number of people starting cutting in line while others simply pushed as close as possible to the entrance of “the hive”.

After watching the scene unfold a little while longer, I thought “this is ridiculous,” and decided to leave empty-handed and a bit in despair. On the drive back, I swore off going to estate sales ever again.

Of course, that promise was short lived, as curiosity got the better of me and I returned to the same house the next day, when everything remaining would be marked down.

As I expected, everything I had originally wanted was long gone. Most of what was left was either overpriced or miscellaneous chachkies. As I was getting ready to leave, I noticed that no one had touched either set of nice stereo speakers in the house. The pair of bookshelf speakers were marked down 50% to $15.00, and I managed get the matching set of floor speakers for only $30.00, after revealing that they needed some new foam inserts (which cost about $10 and 30 minutes of time for the do-it-yourselfer.) My faith in estate sales had been restored! Well, maybe not completely, but at least it was somewhat salvaged.


The original article can be found in the April 2014 issue of Southern Neighbor available here:


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