After a downsizing move last October in which I moved everything I loved most, needed and could get into my new duplex without making it too full and cluttered, and after my children and grandchildren had taken the things they wanted, there still remained a great plethora of items collected over 50-plus years or inherited (from three generations of my and my husband’s families).
What I learned from my decision to have an estate sale was that an estate sale is a very quick, easy and effective way to give away your things. All of the physical work is done by the estate sale professionals, including moving and arranging the items for sale on tables and shelves that they bring in, pricing the items and doing total cleanup and clearing out afterward. The only work you need to do is the emotional part.
Before the estate sale professionals come in, they instruct you to be sure to take away everything you don’t want to be sold. Then you are to just leave everything else in closets, cupboards or on the floors; no need to do any moving of items. They will take care of all of the physical work of getting the sale ready. Once they begin the arranging and pricing, it’s too late to reclaim any items (unless you can convince them an item is something you truly overlooked and is important to you and it hasn’t already been photographed or listed as a sale item in the advertising.
Regarding pricing, from their experience, the professionals have a good idea of what things will sell for. They also have books and laptops from which to get an idea of values of items. Since the idea is to dispose of items by selling them, they price them well below the actual value.
When the first day of the sale came, I did go because my grandchildren really wanted to keep a couple of items that their dad played with as a child. I needed to go to buy them back. My previous home was the site of the sale. The doors to the sale were to open at 9 a.m. As advised, I arrived early, at 7:30 a.m., to find about 15 people facing the door and waiting for 9! By 9, the driveway and down the street was totally full of people waiting.
I ended up spending $400 to buy back some my own things. There were a number of things, in addition to the toys for which I had gone, that looked so nice on display that I just had to buy them. (Since I was receiving 60 percent of the price at which items were sold, I figured I got them at a 60 percent discount.) Also, I saw so many things that I would have used more often if they had been easier to get to.
I can’t say an estate sale is a really great experience. But you have to look at it with the positive thought that you have received the value of the items from your use and enjoyment of them for years and, now that you can no longer use them, you are passing them on to others who will enjoy them. (Their enjoyment will be enhanced by the fact that they purchased them so inexpensively!)
However, if you are planning to take the family on a trip with the proceeds of the sale, don’t plan to go farther than Peabody.
Sue Ice, community activist, former teacher, former school board member, former Newton Medical Center board member, former Chamber of Commerce board member, retired Prairie View employee and experienced estate sale survivor.