Buying secondhand is a great way to save money on things for your home, and with garage sales, thrift stores and consigment shops, there is a lot to choose from. But there’s one place that’s practically a one-stop shop that can save you money: Estate sales.
If you’re not familiar with estate sales (or tag sales as they’re sometimes called), they’re pretty simple. When a loved one passes away or has to move from their home, the family will hold an estate sale to sell anything and everything from the home before the home is put up for sale. Sometimes the family will host the sale themselves. Sometimes they will hire a company that handles all of the details of the sale in exchange for a portion of the proceeds.
The family usually goes through the home and takes away any items they want (including those with sentimental attachment) before the sale, and whatever is left is put up for sale. That means that you’ll find deals on the entire contents of a home.
I’ve been going to estate sales for several years now, and I have scored some amazing deals. But what’s really surprising is the types of things you can save money on at estate sales.
10 Surprising Ways to Save at Estate Sales
Because families are usually motivated to clear out the home, prices are great and they are often willing to deal. Here are some things you can save big on at estate sales:
You can pick up some fantastic deals on canned goods and non-perishable food items at estate sales. Stick to unopened packages and check the dates and you can stock your pantry for up to 70 percent off retail.
2. Paper products
From toilet paper and facial tissue to paper plates and mailing envelopes, you can score some great deals on paper products at estate sales
3. Furniture and appliances
Everything must go when it comes to an estate sale, and that includes the big stuff like couches, tables, beds, dressers, patio furniture, bookcases, washers and dryers, and chest freezers. I’ve seen like-new leather couches go for $200. I once bought an almost-new $400 Lazy Boy recliner for just $80. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about appliances, as often times someone in the family is at the sale and may be able give you additional information about it.
Do-it-yourselfers will love estate sales because they can score great deals on all kinds of tools. Estate sales are great places to find bargains on hand tools, ladders and step stools, automotive tools and supplies, and yard equipment like lawn mowers, trimmers, and snowblowers. Check the basement and garage for these items.
5. Wall art and home decor
If you’ve ever shopped for wall art for your home, you know that it can be incredibly expensive. At estate sales, you can find incredible deals on framed art for your home, and the best part is that since it’s usually still hanging on the wall, you can get an idea of what it might look like hanging in your home. Estate sales are also a great place to get discount wall clocks and other items to decorate your home.
6. Holiday decor
And speaking of home decor, you can also save big on holiday decorations at estate sales. Artificial Christmas trees, holiday table linens, lights, and more are often available for a fraction of what you’d pay new in stores.
7. Craft supplies
If you sew, knit, or make crafts, you’ll definitely want to spend some time checking out estate sales. You can usually find supplies for your hobby by the bin or bag for just a few bucks. It’s also a good place to find cheap patterns and idea books for your favorite hobby. My mom picked up a huge supply of oversized drawing paper for my artist son at an estate sale for just $1.
8. Clothing and shoes
Most people don’t think about shopping for clothing at an elderly person’s home, but there can be some surprising bargains. I’ve seen great deals on beautiful wool coats, silk ties, and barely-worn high quality shoes. You can also take advantage of great prices to score some deals on fun vintage outfits and future Halloween costumes. Don’t write off the clothing and shoes as “old people clothes” because sometimes younger family members take advantage of the opportunity to sell off some of their own, more fashionable clothing at estate sales.
9. Recreational equipment
Estate sales are a great place to find deals on things like cross country skis, golf clubs, life jackets, bicycles, and camping and fishing gear. I’ve seen deals on kayaks, canoes, boats and snowmobiles at estate sales, too.
10. Cookware and dishes
If you’re in need of new pots and pans or dishes for your dining room table, an estate sale is a great place to go. I’ve gotten like-new Pyrex serving dishes, stainless steel mixing bowls, and beautiful serving platters for just a few bucks.
Bonus tip: You can even get a deal on the house! Usually families hold an estate sale to get the home ready to list on the market. If you like what you see while you’re shopping, talk to the family and make an offer.
If you’re looking for great bargains, look for an estate sale in your area. Use these tips for how to shop estate sales, and you’ll save even more.
Your turn: Do you shop at estate sales? What kinds of bargains have you found?