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Saturday, February 7, 2009

Tip #1 - Look for what's NOT for sale

If you hit as many sales as I do you are probably confronted with all types of folks running them. Usually it's the owners of the estate sale service. There is a trick to getting a good deal on your purchases.  First, understand that whom ever is running the sale they have likely been working all week to organize, price and display the stock. They have been there since before dawn and maybe even slept there to be ready for the crowds.

Build a rapport! Say, "hello" and make eye contact, comment on the sale or the house, ask questions, but expect you may find them too busy to talk for long. If they remember you at check out they may haggle based on your general attitude while in their "store." Treat them as you would like to be treated.

I like it when they ask me what I'm looking for - even if i am not sure. Conversation builds trust, trust build relationships.

The trick I use in hunting is to not looking for anything in particular, because you don't want to limit your focus or attention to a single thing. I am trying to look with such objectivity that I won't miss that which is disguised by it's surroundings.

In the purest sense I am not looking for what is for sale I am trying to look at everything, in the hopes that, should I see something I want, it will be for sale. Sometimes there's so much clutter, if there's a gem in there my brain can't sort through it all with out missing something. I often need to make numerous passes in order to see it all. I also need to look in less than obvious places.

The little can opener you see in the picture was this kind of find. It wasn't laid out on a table with a price tag tied to a string through the hole. No, this was found on an old piece of property inside a barn. You've seen these sales. they open up the house, barns, and sheds and let the hunters and diggers "have at it!" I scoured through this barn looking in every nook and cranny and sure enough hanging from a nail was this inauspicious can opener. When I read the one side I knew I had hit pay dirt:
Stanley Steamer?! That put this piece around 1917.

If you have read this blog before you know I save something for dramatic purposes. Upon turning the opener over I got a better surprise. Look at that phone number: Ask the operator for 137 and ring it 4 times.
Finding a piece of local history or memorabilia is a true high. The Arcade Machine Works had been located in what is, or was, "The Maxx". A New Milford Youth Agency building refurbished to provide kids with their own location to hang on Railroad Street. It had been several businesses between the machine works and the Maxx but to me it was like looking into a time machine. Moral: When they ask, "What are you looking for?" just tell them, "I'll know it when I find it." The cost of a slice of New Milford history? 50 cents.

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