Estate sale

Shopping estate sales for items with history

“I love how everything has its own story,” said Myranda as she escorted me past the threshold and into my first estate sale showing. She and my friend Allison had been raving about the sales for weeks, and today they’d promised to initiate me into the world of estate sales and antiquing. I was thrilled.

Inside, the house smelled of lemon air fresheners—clean and crisp—a scent that matched the immaculate décor. From board games to furniture, the previous owner had kept her possessions in pristine condition. Now a widow in her eighties, she planned to downsize and move in with her daughter.

“So, how does this work?” I asked my friends. “We can buy anything we see?”

“Pretty much,” Allison replied. “Anything with a price tag.”

I gaped with astonishment. Anything with a price tag.

Scanning the immediate area, I was quickly impressed with the owner’s ability to give each belonging a home. Framed art hung on the walls, books lined the shelves, and stacks of china sat delicately inside glass-fronted cabinets.

As Allison examined a large antique trunk, Myranda made her way toward a collection of ornate tea sets, and I—admittedly, I have a bit of a dress-shopping habit—found myself in front of a beautiful, handmade Scarlett O’Hara dress. I eyeballed it as about the right size; for only $20, I couldn’t pass it up.

“This will be perfect for Halloween!” I justified aloud to myself.

“Oh, that’s gorgeous!” said Allison, coming over to see my find. “It always surprises me what you can find at these estate sales.”

“I remember when Anna sewed that for her daughter’s pageant,” said a senior-aged woman, joining our conversation. The woman was a neighbor and family friend of the owner and gave me a full account of the dress’s history.

Over the years, my career as a journalist and ghostwriter has cemented my belief that everyone has a story to tell. It wasn’t until I walked into my first estate sale that I suspected that the same could be said for personal items.

“Nice find!” Myranda said, walking over, cradling her own set of treasures.

I nodded. “Yeah, and look at you! There’s some great stuff here.”

“I feel like the owner is a lady after my own heart,” she said, thoughtfully “Perhaps, in another life, we could have been friends.”

I couldn’t have put it better myself.

Rachel’s Challenge

To view a list of upcoming estate sales in your area, visit

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