Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Personal Tips for Taking Children to Estate Sales

Since Katie was a tiny baby, we've been buckling her in her car seat and heading to estate sales on Saturdays. A handful of local estate sale companies know us either by name or by seeing her when we walk in to their latest home full of goodies. So, I thought that sharing some quick tips for bringing your own little ones along might get a few more of you out and about without fear and into some great deals and adventures. Ready? Buckle up!

1. Most companies in our area post guidelines for their estate sales with the ad. Most say NO CHILDREN. We say, walk in with them anyway...demonstrate that you can keep them under control (by that I mean hold a hand)...and assure the sellers that your little one is an experienced treasure hunter. We have only had one company that turned Katie away in the six years she's been going, and sent us flying through the front door at a harried dash. William was so mad that he yelled from the front end of the house to the back where I was already digging that we were leaving.  Dang.  It was a good one, too.

2. Once you've met the "ladies" (as Katie calls them) and they realize your tykes are potential customers too,  you are pretty much free to shop. There is one group of ladies that love to see Katie coming, and they are very sweet and generous. We bought two twin French Provincial beds and a nightstand for Katie's room, and we took them pictures to see how we had brought new life into old furniture, and they were thrilled seeing them in use. Katie comes right in and she hugs them and they always want to see what she finds in the sale.  They usually give it to her, too.

3.  Speaking of the kiddos finding things to buy, be sure you let them have a small allowance for spending.  We usually give Kate a couple of dollars and she can come out with an armful of fun.  You might even search their interests out first...because that means more time for you once they are occupied.  Katie finds puzzles, books, small plastic animals, or random things like knitted broom handle creatures and miniature baskets that are just about as ugly as they come.  They turned out to be worth it to keep her busy while we finished shopping, though.  That's the real treasure. 

4. Inevitably, Katie will whisper she HAS TO GO TO THE RESTROOM. Ugg. Every time. That's a big no-no with most companies and some will NOT allow you to use them (pray there is a 7-11 close by). However, if you don't make a big deal out of it and quietly ask permission, most won't turn a little one down that's doing the dance. (And then you get to see the cool bathroom tiles and fixtures--and take lots of pictures of mid century fab powder rooms).

5.  Be sure to keep a box of baby wipes in the car.  These are good for you and for the kids.  A lot of times you are sifting through dusty boxes and cabinets or just plain not very clean rooms full of stuff.  We all wipe down when we get back to the car.

6.   Plan on as many sales as you think you can handle, and break them up with lunch if you need to.  Sometimes we head out about 10, stop for lunch or cupcakes, and finish about 2 or 3.  I must say that Katie is a trooper...we rarely here her asking to go home unless we aren't having any luck. 

Do you take your kids with you on Saturday adventures?  What kinds of rules/guidelines/ideas for happy little shoppers do you have?  I'd love to hear!  We love taking Katie...and the big boys will go too if there are fishing poles or CB antennas.  :)  We've got them trained!

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