Friday, February 17, 2012

estate sale blues

today something very traumatic happened to me that taught me an important lesson about estate sales.

i've been going to estate sales for years, but because of my work schedule i usually only get to go on sundays when its the last day of the sale. often times they are picked over and sometimes i don't find anything at all. on the occasions that i do find something, the last day of the sale is usually half off so i end up feeling pretty good about scoring something neat for a great deal.

lately i have had more opportunities to hit up sales on the day that they begin. sometimes i know some of the contents of the sale, and i go with the intention of picking up the things i had my eye on. a few weeks ago was the first time that josh and i got up extra early to get in line and get a number, which ensures you a spot in line no matter how many people walk up after you get there. what i quickly realized was that doing this is far too stressful for me to handle. i don't like feeling like i have to fight everyone to get to the prize. and people are rude. almost all of them are older than me, my parents or even grandparents age, but that doesn't stop them from being pushy, bitchy, and downright mean. i do not like the competition or the cutthroat attitude these hardcore early bird buyers are dishing out.

today was only the second time that we went early enough to get numbers. i knew exactly what i was going for and i had josh as a second pair of eyes to double my chance of scoring: this shadow box.


i got in after about 20 other people, but they stopped josh at the door because they were only letting 5 people in at a time. sort of panicked that i had to find it alone, i followed my instinct and headed for the basement. it was crowded with junk and a quick scan of the room didn't produce the shadow box anywhere. i politely asked one of the sale workers if she remembered what room the box was in and she pointed to a far wall of the basement.

"you mean those? there's two," she said.

i tried to contain myself and forced myself not to run. as i walked over, i had to go around an old man who was standing in front of one of the boxes, holding the knick-knack that was inside and turning it upside down (i would assume to look for a makers mark). as soon as he saw me get over there, he looked up and grabbed the shadow box in front of him off the wall.

here is where i messed up.

even though i am not an experienced "early bird" estate sale buyer, i am familiar enough with the etiquette to know that anything that is not in someone's hand is fair game. sometimes people make "piles," which is even sorta pushing it for rightful ownership to me, but when something is still on display it is up for grabs. i was standing in front of the second shadow box when the man quickly snatched his off the wall and began walking over to me. i know i should have grabbed the one in front of me when i had the chance. but i am not a jerk and i seized up in the uncertainty of the situation. i have a hard time asserting myself or standing up for myself. i'm shy and quiet. i'm passive aggressive and too polite for my own good sometimes. all of these things were my downfall.

i squeaked out, "are you getting both of them?" to which the old man replied, "yep," and snatched the one off the wall in front of my face.

he put the pair of shadow boxes in a stack of crap he was getting and left them while he continued looking around the house. i was so heartbroken i couldn't even recover fast enough to grab any of the other neat things around me. people were swarming in as they let more and more people into the house, and i walked around in circles trying hard not to cry.

also, i have pms right now. so excuuuuse me.

i waited and waited, just in case the guy changed his mind and didn't get them. the sale worker saw what happened and i could tell that she felt sorry for me. i asked her, "if he decides not to get them after all, can i?" and she offered to find the man and check because he had been gone for so long. she came back and told me, "he said his daughter sent him here to get them and he's not changing his mind. sorry. you just gotta be more demanding!" i thanked her and told her i wish i could.

so that was my day. it's been haunting me ever since. i just tried to take a nap and couldn't even sleep because all i keep seeing in my mind is that guy snatching it up in my face.


lesson learned, though. be a jerk. get what you want, cuz if you don't someone else will.


  1. I still think that you did what was right. Trust me, there IS a such thing as estate sale karma. And you'll find something really mind blowingly amazing soon to make up for doing the right thing. He was a real jerk and he'll probably trip over something and break his leg at the next sale. :) Recently, I was in a basement and had my hand on something, about to pick it up (this amazing metal hamper from the 60's with bright flowers on it) and this jerk swooped in and took it. Right out from under my hand. I was too stunned to react. I'm sure that by now, he's accidentally parallel parked himself into a ditch at a sale just because of it.

  2. That really stinks! I suffer from the same syndrome. People say I am not assertive enough but I just think I am trying to be a decent human being. The real problem is that I hold people to my standard and then I get bummed when that's not how it goes. Here's hoping you find something even better at the next sale!

  3. thanks, guys. i feel .1% better knowing that i'm not the only one who still tries to "be a decent human being" as wacky tacky so appropriately put it. ertha, that story makes my cheeks burn...i totally know what you mean about being too stunned to react. here's to excellent junkin karma for the three of us!!!

  4. I've been scrolling quite a few times to the photo. If you or someone you knows has a scroll saw, that shadow box would be easy to reproduce. And then you would have liberty of the decor or paint scheme. I showed my husband some large metal diamonds I wanted once and he recreated them! They mean more that way.

  5. People outrage me sometimes! I'm also not an aggressive person, and think it's crappy that people take advantage of that in others. I mean, didn't their mothers teach them any manners?! I always get turned off by those mass stampede situations. It's like people revert to their base, animal behaviors. Next time, kick him in the shin, stash a shadowbox under each arm, and cackle like a mad woman while running back up the stairs - to hell with respecting your elders! ;) (I too am PMSing right now, so please disregard my violent outburst...)