This fall at Mirror80, we’re all about shopping in person for dazzling ’80s finds. After all, with the weather turning crisp and cool, the thought of traipsing through fields of tents at antique festivals or a series of driveways for a morning of garage sales is somehow enticing rather than exhausting… So we’re creating a collection of resource articles to help you locate the finest in ’80s design. Last week we focused on finding ’80s treasures at antique shows. Today we shine the spotlight on estate sales. Read on for helpful tips and hints…
Let’s start with the loot. How likely is it that you’ll stumble upon an estate sale filled with ’80s finds? It just depends. Remember, an estate sale occurs when a large number of a person’s belongings are put up for sale, often in his or her own home. This may happen when the person dies, or when a major move is in order. It may seem strange to be parading around someone’s house, browsing the contents of kitchen cabinets and medicine drawers (yes, I’ve been to an estate sale where they were selling a half-used bottle of Milk of Magnesia. Really?!!!). But back to the topic at hand, it’s possible that the last time the occupant(s) of the home redecorated, it was 1985. Awesome! But it’s even more likely that you’ll find a range of pieces from a variety of time periods. Some ’80s. Some not.
Start by checking your local listings. Many local papers (and their online counterparts) will feature ads about the week’s estate sales, complete with details about what’s at stake. If it’s clear that there will be some ’80s designer items, you know you’re in luck. However, be aware that a large number of estate sale companies do not consider 1980s pieces to be valuable. Which is great when you’re looking for a bargain. But not so great if you expect ’80s items to be listed in the paper. Often they are not.
If you know there will be specific items for sale that you’re interested in purchasing, arrive at the estate sale before it opens. It may take a couple of trips to estate sales in your city to get a feel for the competition. Is there a line out front before the sale begins? Or can you walk right up at the time the sale starts and immediately get in? If you know you want to buy a certain item for sale, you’re going to have to get competitive. Get there early and head right for your treasure!
If you’re looking for a bargain, make sure you hit the estate sale on the last day. I’ll be honest, folks–this is my favorite way to shop at estate sales. I go on a Sunday afternoon, and I see what’s left. The best part: On the last day of most estate sales, all items are 50% off! Often there’s still a lot up for grabs, especially when it comes to ’80s pieces (which are still under-appreciated). At the end of a sale, I have the most luck finding jewelry, purses and small decorative items from the decade of decadence.
In fact, even in a home without one ’80s furnishing, chances are the woman who lived there shopped for jewelry and other accessories at some point during the decade. Always check the jewelry case. This past weekend, I hit an estate sale and found the necklace at the top of the post for a mere $3.25. And yes, it was a Sunday! The flat-beaded necklace below was also an estate sale find…
But don’t get too over-confident on your hunt for ’80s treasures. While authentic 1980s finds are definitely not on everyone’s radar, they are becoming increasingly popular, especially in the realm of fashion. The estate sale you attend may not be filled with antique dealers looking to stock their booths, but it may be filled with buyers for local thrift stores who have discovered that ’80s fashion items are hot. And let’s not forget about folks who enjoy selling ’80s merchandise on eBay or Etsy. Definitely be proactive on your hunt for 1980s pieces!
The bottom line: Estate sales are a great place to find ’80s treasures. Since most possessions a person owns are put up for sale, you are bound to find something from the decade of decadence. While many dealers are quick to dismiss ’80s items, you won’t find estate sale companies actively eliminating 1980s pieces from a home they have opened for a sale. Take advantage of your surroundings and shop!
Do you have any tips for navigating estate sales? Don’t hesitate to leave a comment below…
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