Driving around Western New York on a Saturday morning it is almost inevitable that you encounter an Estate Sale sign, encouraging you to search through someone else’s belongings for hidden treasures. Estate sales are not a new concept, but they are attracting a new audience. The pandemic has left people with fewer weekend plans and the need to save money.

After thoughtful implementation of capacity guidelines and mask standards, as directed by New York State, local sale organizers such as Estate Sales by Jude and Edna Louise Liquidations were able to resume holding estate sales at the end of the summer of 2020.

Loyal estate sale shoppers used to include mostly collectors and antique buyers, but these days people of all ages and interests can be seen bargain hunting.

Two shoppers at a Kingston Circle, Lockport, sale said that except during winter, they attend sales every weekend. Estate sales are a great place to find your next DIY project, seasonal decor item or recreational activity at a lower price.

Whether you walk through the doors of a sale in a small bungalow or an expansive residence, an array of items from furniture to kitchen gadgets await you.

“It’s good to just have patience,” Cherrel Leidenfrosa, a routine garage and estate sale shopper, said. “Second day you usually get a quarter (25%) off, third day you get half off. On the third day you can usually even work some deals.”

Leidenfrosa also advised to check back, after a sale has concluded, on garbage day. There may be items by the curb that the sellers still want to get rid of.

People used to go to department stores and shopping malls to purchase a variety of household items in one place, but these have been on a steady decline for the past decade. Coresight Research estimates one out of every four malls in the United States will shut down over the next 3 to 5 years. The increase in consumers browsing online and purchasing locally seems to be sealing their fate.

While thrifting or second-hand shopping may have once had a negative connotation, and was hardly able to compete with corporate brand name stores, that no longer appears to be the case. With shopping “small” on the rise and the desire to save money at the forefront of many peoples’ minds there has also been an increase in estate sale participation.

“We have more people coming out than we have ever had before,” noted Jude Evert, the owner-operator of Estate Sales by Jude. “People are spending more money than they have ever spent before, our sales are doubled.”

Evert credits chain store closings and Covid stimulus money for her increase in traffic.

“Estate sale shopping is much more trendy now. We have people who’ve never been to estate sales who are calling me, saying ‘how does this work?’,” she said. "In 2021 many conversations revolve around saving money and stimulating the economy close to home. What’s closer to home than shopping out of someone else’s?"

 

IF YOU GO ESTATE-SHOPPING

Be aware of the early bird shoppers that lurk outside a residence before opening hours. They are often eager to get “first dibs” on items that are promoted online prior to the sale’s start time. Check out estatesales.net or your local sale organizer’s Facebook page for a sneak peek.

Bring cash. Some Estate Sale companies set price minimums if you choose to use your credit card.

Bring manpower. There are a limited number of employees at each sale and they are sometimes unable to assist with loading.

BYOB (Bring your own bags). Any entity collecting New York State sales tax cannot provide plastic carry-out bags, per the Plastic Bag Reduction Law implemented in March 2020.

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