Tips for Shopping Estate Sales

Preparation is all, especially when tackling an estate sale.
estate sale items

Before and After of Estate SaleThis piece was written in partnership with Jess Pittman Bidwell. Photos courtesy of Anna E Schink.

Estate sales are for ANYONE and EVERYONE. Whether a useful household item or a unique treasure, the likelihood of walking away empty-handed is slim.




1. Check the advertisement listing (typically posted a few days before the sale) and come up with a strategy. This info can be found directly on the company’s website or by visiting

Consider: What are your top 5 must-haves? What forms of payment are accepted? Can you bring your own reusable bags? Do they offer discounts on the final day? Where is the best place to park?

Flipside Showroom2. Flipside offers an early bird sign-in sheet one hour before the sale begins. The first person on the list is the first in the door! This is a good chance to chat with others in line, find out if there are other sales that day and make a few friends!

3. When it’s your turn to shop, make sure you look in cabinets, drawers, the back yard, sheds, garage and all other nooks and crannies. Do a double-take around the entire home to make sure you see it all! We recommend bringing a friend so you can team up and cover more ground.

4. Watch for everyday items like cleaning products, office supplies and glassware, which will cost a fraction of their regular purchase price. Keep an eye out for items you can reuse or upcycle in a creative way. 

5. Estate sales are the perfect place to find furniture, vintage art and rare collectibles that may have been in the family for generations. You’ll find higher quality and a lower ticket price than many retail shops.

6. Take advantage of the holding areas! If you see something you like and don’t grab it, chances are it won’t be there when you come back. You can set aside items you wish to purchase and keep your hands free to find more treasures.

7. Be kind, patient and respectful. Estate sales are often packed with fellow shoppers and employees. Keep in mind these are families’ cherished belongings, and this can be an emotional process for them. 

Curious to learn more from the women behind the tips? We got you.

Tori HeadshotTori Sandler, Owner of Notorious Vintage, says, “Estate sales are a great one-stop shop for everything you need! Beyond looking for treasures, I keep my eyes peeled for the basics: cleaning supplies, dishes and pillowcases. Keep in mind they are selling off EVERYTHING in the house, so it’s a good time to stock up on the essentials. As someone whose business and personal philosophy is built on sustainability, they check all the boxes. It’s a way to get affordable, unique finds that often come with the history of the item straight from the original owner. An added bonus is I usually run into my other reseller buds, so it’s always a fun time. However, shopping estate sales can get competitive and sometimes overwhelming, so knowing the ins and outs and staying focused is key.”



Jess Pittman next to estate saleJess Pittman Bidwell, Owner of Flipside Estate & Consignment Concierge adds, “We are the only estate sale company in Indy that offers a full range of in-house services from start to finish. The Flipside team are experts in: liquidating estates, listing items online for auction or consignment, finding local sources for donation, and clearing and cleaning the space after the sale in order to help clients get the home ready for the next step. Buyers have the advantage of shopping straight from the source. Shopping at an estate sale is one of the best ways to sustainably shop and combat waste.”

Tori Sandler is the Owner of Notorious Vintage, and you can follow along on Instagram.
Jess Pittman Bidwell is the Owner of Flipside Estate & Consignment Concierge and you can follow along on Instagram and/ or Facebook.

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