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Estate Sale Etiquette: How to Not Be "That Customer"

My readers are certainly intelligent and compassionate people who have an innate sense of treating one another well, so this post may be redundant. However, visiting an estate sale presents some delicate issues some of us bargain hunters may not be aware of. Here are a few tips to avoid being "that customer" at estate sales.

1. Be discreet in your opinions of pricing, style, cleanliness and other matters of preference. By discreet I basically mean save all of your opinionated statements for the safe confines of your vehicle or your own home. This is the sum total of a person's worldly prized posessions, not a rummage sale with cast off items. You're coming into someone else's home, poking around in their things, and there very well could be family or friends near you. Just think about how you would want people to behave coming into your home and looking at your lifetimes accumulation of things you love.

2. Accept the price as is. Again, this isn't a garage sale, so leave haggling at the door. The general rule of thumb is that the price on the tag is the price you will pay. If you're looking for more of a bargain, estates will typically reduce their prices after the first day to 25, 50 or even 75 percent off of the ticketed price. You might even get lucky and get final hours bag sale where you pay a certain amount for a bag and fill 'er up with as many goodies as your heart desires. But unless you're trying to strike up a deal in the hundreds or thousands of dollars range, don't bother. Especially if it's the first day of the sale!

3. Practice patience with the staff and other guests. Everyone is super excited to see all of the goodies and scoop up their prizes ASAP. However, homes are often not designed to have a high capacity of bodies walking around at the same time, and this is exacerbated by tables of knick knacks and bulky items on display. In my elementary theatre classes we play lots of movement games and I would teach my kids the phrase, "Eyes up, heads moving. I know where you are, I know where I am, and I won't bump into you." Sounds infantile, but qhen people are wrapped up in looking at treasures or wanting to get an item before someone else snatches it up, things as basic as spatial awareness can go out the window. Be aware of your environment because at estate sales it fequently includes elderly individuals, stairs, fragile items, people carrying furniture, narrow hallways and doorways..... you get the picture! And minding your "Ps and Qs" is a must as well!

4. Express graciousness and avoid shame. What do I mean by this and what on earth does this have to do with an estate sale? Well, estate sales are frequently (though not always) held after the passing of a loved one or of them moving into assisted living. The thought of this is ooky for some people or they may feel like the sale is distespectful. Look at it this way: you are helping the family or that individual financially and you're honoring them by appreciating or purchasing their beloved things. Along these lines, avoid asking questions like, "what happened to these people?" or "did the owner die?" It's none of your beeswax!

5. Be aware of what others are actively looking at and consider that item sold if they got to it first. For whatever reason, good bargains on great items can turn otherwise rational adults into preschoolers. I have seen people snatch up an item that another person is clearly looking at. If they started looking at it first, they have dibs (to put it in kid terms!) If they say they will pass or they walk away, THEN snatch it up. Because who knows what other customers who do not practice etiquette are looking at it, too!

So there you have it. Five ways to not be "that guy." I'd love to hear what bothers YOU at estate sales!  I hope I'm not doing them unknowingly. Comment below!