Bring along batteries. Always test small appliances and electronics; the seller may not even know if they work. Likewise, it’s a good idea to screw in a light bulb before you invest in that antique brass floor lamp.
Carry cash. While professional companies may be equipped to accept credit cards, family-run sales may be cash-only. Call ahead to confirm they accept plastic.
Consider leaving totes behind. It’s hard to monitor so many people in so many rooms. Some companies allow for larger bags and backpacks, but others insist on a small purse, wallet or fanny pack to eliminate the five-finger discount.
Provide your own movers. Due to Worker’s Compensation issues, estate sale staff is not permitted to help you cart out or load your purchases. Make sure you bring your own muscle.
Measure twice, buy once. Bring measurements, or even pictures to see how certain items will fit or work in certain spaces.
Google it. Look up things on your phone to see if they are fairly priced. If you’re lucky, you may actually discover that they’re really worth something.
Ask questions. The seller may very well have more details about a particular item. Maybe there’s a great story behind it that will only make it more interesting as a conversation piece in your own home.
Estate sale alternatives
Unlike some estate sales where homes are staged, local closeout stores and resellers are typically no-frills warehouses packed full of surplus, restock and store return products. It’s worth your time to sift through the inventory, though—shoppers can realize savings of 50-70 percent off retail prices on appliances, furniture, bathroom vanities, area rugs, flooring, patio sets, lighting, tools and more.
Here are a few places to get a serious bargain:
T&T Trading Group
1430 Clinton St., Buffalo
• Condition of items checked for damage/missing components; reflected in product description
• Generous return policy
• Retail store open six days a week
• Live auctions every other week
107 Evans St., Hamburg
• Only open when there is a sale going on – either walk-in or live public auction (upcoming sales listed online)
960 French Road, Cheektowaga
• Sells food and clothing in addition to appliances, furniture and home goods
• Open daily
144 Urban St., Buffalo
• 15,000-square-foot warehouse
• Fill-a-bag room stocked with deals
• Open daily
Story topics: Shop local