8.28.2010

Style Spots: Vintage Estate Sale

When I was younger, my mom and I would go to estate sales most Saturdays mornings. We'd get our copy of the Post-Dispatch on Friday and circle all the listings we thought would have good stuff. Then we'd break out the city map and figure out our plan of attack. It was a ton of fun and we found some great things over the years.

I've lived in California for 4 1/2 years now, and realized a couple months ago that I've never ventured into estate sales out here. I guess I figured that most of them would be high-priced and not worth the effort. Today, however, I made my move.

Before heading down there, my loving husband toted me around to a couple rummage sales in Culver City, where I found a couple vintage dresses, an old copy of The Good Housekeeping Cookbook, an old mirror with a gilded frame, and these two fabulous finds:




By 11 a.m. the hubs had had enough and needed some down time before work today. So I dropped him off at home and finally made my way down to Play del Rey.

A lot of people like to get to these sales early (even when people say no early birds!), and since I hadn't been part of a mad scramble in a while (the ones at estate sales sometimes get down and dirty with people throwing elbows and everything!), I took my chances and showed up well after the morning rush. The first two didn't turn up anything, which was a bit disappointing. But the last one was inside these beautiful mid-century home, and I knew from the look of it there were still gems to be had.

Outside was an entire garage full of books for $1 each, and most of them hardbacks from the '50s. My husband loves to read, and especially loves history, so I scoured the boxes and came up with some great vintage reads for him. The two I'm most proud of is the four-volume set of Winston Churchill's A History of English Speaking Peoples, and a fairly famous book on Abraham Lincoln called Lincoln and His Generals. I also grabbed two books on the Civil War, one on the fall of the Russian dynasties, and (for me) a compilation book of Dashell Hammett's novels (The Thin Man, The Maltese Falcon, etc.). I know my dad will be proud when he hears about that last one.


Throughout the rest of the outside property were boxes and boxes of linens and fabric, old tools and furniture being sold at very generous prices. There was this one wooden chair with an amazing pattern of orange, brown and yellow plaid, but we have no place for it so I left it for the next person. I did, however, get this beautiful magazine/newspaper rack that I think I'm going to refinish in a bright color:


When I went inside there was still a lot of stuff left, and my arms got full as I ventured from room to room. Eventually the granddaughter (by marriage) of the gentleman who had just passed came up and gave me a box. When I was finished picking through things, we laid everything out on the table and went over prices. I ended up with a lot of cute vintage Christmas ornaments, three rolls of vintage contact paper/shelf lining, an old omelet pan with a rooster on it that says, "Good Morning", a little coin purse, some calendar tea towels and a red ceramic rooster for an unbelievably reasonable price. Some of what's pictured below will go onto the Parsimonia Etsy store, but some of it stays with me!






After I paid I talked with the granddaughter for a while and she said how hard all of this was for her husband, seeing his grandfather's (and grandmother's) things being picked through and people haggling for the lowest price. And I think that's always something that's so bittersweet about these sales. You're essentially just walking through the house of someone who just died, trying to get the best of what they've left behind, and some people really do seem like vultures when they do it.

So, if you go to estate sales, do me one favor: Be respectful of the family members who are there running it, still coping with the loss of someone they loved. It's not a time to take advantage of the circumstance they're in.

[Change of tone]

Have a great rest of the weekend and enjoy the good weather (if you have it!)!

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