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16 Tips for a Successful Estate Sale
By: A Cat Eye Girl  -  5/31/2011

The following 16 estate sale tips come from our experience conducting estate sales in Everett and Snohomish (Snohomish County, Washington) and from our years of hunting and gathering.  Your goal is to liquidate an entire household in two days.  And, your success at attaining your goal will be measured by how many boxes you have to pack up and donate to charity.

1.  Readable signage. Your estate sale customers are behind the wheel doing 30 mph while looking for signs that will direct them to your sale. Keep the information on your signs minimal so you can maximize readability. For example, if the sale address is 1421 Pitty Pat Lane in bold block letters simply write:

Estate Sale
14th & Pitty Pat

2.  Do not throw anything away unless it is clearly garbage.  Because you think something has no value, does not mean it holds no value to the next person.

3.  Go for the gold.  Gold jewelry is often unmarked and sold at costume jewelry prices at estate sales.

4.  Staff your estate sale adequately.  Have rovers who answer questions, find help, locate the hand-truck and deliver large items.

5.  Price everything. Price anything and everything that isn't nailed to the walls.   Price things that are nailed to the walls if it clears the palette and makes prepping the home for resale easier.

6.  Greet every customer.  Personally welcome everyone that walks into the home and be sure to look them in the eye.  Eye contact reduces theft . . . it's harder to steal from someone who has looked you in the eye.

7.  Your first offer might be your best offer. At an estate sale your first offer might be your best offer and it just might be the only offer you get.  If you are uncomfortable taking an offer, at a minimum take the customerís name and phone number if a better offer isn't made so you have someone to call if it doesn't sell.  Sometimes there is only one person who wants the exact thing that you are selling.

8.  Research unique items using antique value guides. Use value guides to establish a reasonable price based on condition. Remember, an estate sale is not a "retail"sales environment so you are shooting for a price closer to wholesale than retail.  Your goal is to sell the item, not overprice and inhibit a sale. 

9.  Be a short story teller. Share stories about where something came from or what you remember about an item. Our customers love getting the history of something they buy.

10.  Clean everything. Everything should be sparkling clean!  All value is perceived.  And, at an estate sale clean is worth more than "dirt cheap!"

11.  Bring boxes. Include the phrase "Bring boxes" in your estate sale ads and have extra boxes at the entry point of your sale.Encourage estate sale customers to pick up a box as they walk in the door.  Why? A box can hold more than two hands. And, when a customer's hands are full it's hard to pick more things up.  But a half full box is easy to set down to pick something else in and put it in the box!

12.  eBay is a four letter word.  Try to never say the word "eBay" at your estate sale . . . you are not selling the item on eBay.  You are selling it at an estate sale and if your customers wanted to shop on eBay they would have stayed home and sat in front of their computer.

13.  Develop a plan for ingress and egress.  Keep the estate sale traffic moving towards a single exit point where there are multiple cashiers to speed the checkout process along.

14.  Be reasonable. If your policy is not to discount anything and a customer asks "If I make a really big pile will you make me a little deal?" be reasonable, make the customer a little deal and take their money.

15.  Hide Priceless artifacts. If something is a priceless artifact to you chances are one of your estate sale customers will think it's pretty darn neat too.  Remove items that are heirlooms, sold or spoken for the day before the sale.

16.  Endorphins are good. Laugh! Have a great time connecting with all of the extraordinary people who are out in the world doing extraordinary things who have come to your estate sale.  Get people talking and laughing -- chances are you will sell more and you will have a whole lot more fun!

Best wishes for a great estate sale!


ps.  If the estate you are charged with liquidating is in Yakima, Kittitas, Benton or Snohmish County or is located in any of the following municipalities -- Everett, Edmonds, Lynnwood, Mukilteo, Stanwood, Marysville, Arlington, Snohomish, Monroe, Prosser, Richland, Toppenish, Wapato, Yakima, Gleed, Tieton, Moxee, Terrace Heights -- and you have questions or could use some knowledgable support, click here!  It should be self-evident from this blog that we gladly and readily give away what we know!


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