Monday, December 30, 2013

Before you go: How to "Pick" Estate Sales through Pictures

Sometimes estate sales don't make the cut, before we even pull up to the house.  We are fortunate in Dallas to have a few web sites to follow besides craigslist to "pick" our sales before we head out to drive 100 miles in a day to make five or six sales.  One site is 24-7 Estate Sales and the other is .  These sites give you a great description of the sale and also several pictures to browse through for contents.

One of my favorite companies to follow around is Deal's Estate Sales in the DFW metroplex.  They are super friendly and always put on a well-organized and reasonably priced sale, and usually have vintage treasures aplenty.  Here's how I used the pictures in their ads and from their Facebook page to "pick" a sale that was quite a jog from where I normally shop in the area.  

1.  Check out pictures with books in them.  You can usually tell how long people have collected by looking at the variety of books.  This shelf had some Highlights magazines peeking out from below.  Fun!  They were from the early 70s if I remember correctly.

2.  Usually a table with miscellaneous items can provide a wealth of information about the sale.  See the old camera flashbulbs on the table?  And camera bags?  Tons of old newspapers are laying up there, and if you peek below the table, I think I see some vintage Hallmark party.  One of my favorite things to find. 

3.  The art in the home is a sure sign of the time period of the sale.  I wanted this cat painting, but sadly it was gone by the time I made it there.

 4.  The kitchen photos are a place to watch for what you are looking for as well.  Sometimes there are a wide variety of appliances and dishes, but when you look at the cookbooks, the tried and true are usually the ones that tell the story.  I like to find tabbed, dog-eared pages that have been written in and have flour and vanilla spilled on them.  The ones that have been used are the ones that lend the best reward.

5.  The office.  Be still my heart.  The office.  There are always things to look for in here, especially if you are on the office supply/paper hunt like I usually am.  First, look on top of the desk.  In the photo above I see some older office supplies, a silver rolodex (the push button kind), and some boxes of old paper.  But see that blue box on the floor the arrow is pointing to?  That was a 1960s punch card training system.  It was still there, and I have it now!  Here's a better look:

Won't those be fun to play with?  :)

6.  Another thing to look for in the office is Ziploc bags.  Deal's is really good about packing fun finds in Ziploc bags.  I've found postcards, kodachrome slides, fun pens and pencils from old office supply gifts, and all sorts of vintage crammed in these.  Don't overlook them in the might be able to tell what's inside, but there is also an element of surprise when you get there, too.

7.  The last photo tip...look for the obvious.  See this prescription box label?  It tells the owner that the box is hinged so not to mix up medicines with other patients in the house.  Dated 1939.  If this is still hanging around and made the photo cut for the ad, chances are I'm there.  Just like this little pill box is full of old this and that, I can almost positively say the house will be, too.  

*Remember, a picture may be worth a thousand words, but when it comes to estate sales, there might be something you are looking for that is NOT pictured in the ad.  If the sale fits the era, then go check it out anyway.*

A very special thank-you to Deal's Estate Sales for letting me use their photos to "pick" their sale!  This was a fun one and I came away with lots of vintage office and paper treasures. 

Have a great time picking! If you are living in the metroplex, check out the web sites above.  See you around!


  1. That cat paintings is what dreams are made of! Thanks for the tips. I don't make a habit of estate sales but this has me wanting to plan them out and be first in line!

    1. Ohhh that cat painting was sweet, wasn't it?? :) That sounds great! You would love them terribly if you started going regularly! We go almost every weekend. Have fun!

  2. this is so cool! daniel loves going to estate sales. thanks for sharing your knowledge. :)

    1. Thank you! Estate sales are so fun. You just never know what people will save. :)