Sunday, April 17, 2011

Estate Clearouts: The Garage Sale on Crack; A Hat Box Full of 100 Dollar Bills

Yard sales are great for low prices, sure. But the modern-day bounties being captured at a different animal known as the "estate clearout" make those already rock-bottom prices look like exorbitant.

These are when a company is hired to clear all the stuff out of a home in a short period of time, like a day. Often it's a foreclosure, or sometimes someone dies and the executor of the estate or oldest child lives too far away to deal with the stuff; they just want to get it out and sell the house.

Sometimes the people doing the clearout allow the public to come and grab bag and boxfulls of stuff for dirt cheap. At the last one I was at, I got bags jammed with books, including collectible and first editions, and other random weird stuff, such as the below:

Those are several vintage collectible newspapers, with headlines about Robert Kennedy's assassination and Nixon resigning; three human hair wigs (I warned you they were weird), and two vintage fashion magazines. (Those are models Elle McPherson and Kim Alexis, in case you were wondering).

I also got a set of solid brass cups and plates, the aforementioned books, moon landing collectibles, brand new hosiery, a genuine eelskin purse, and much more. I got three bagfuls jammed with stuff for about $10. Oh yes, and a whole bunch of brand-new Clinique and other high-end cosmetics.

There was also a set of Harvard classics, furniture, hats, dresses, kitchenalia, Christmas decorations, and so much more.

But the thing that really got me? While I was there poring over the books, I overheard one of the guys running the clear out say that someone found a hatbox full of a hundred dollar bills earlier in the morning. (it pays to keep your eyes and ears open at these things).

They also said to check the pockets of jackets and coats for money.. Money was apparently stashed everywhere. I felt like I was I'm some twentieth century version of the Wild West.

So how do you find these clear outs? They're certainly not as easy to find as yard sales. First, keep your eyes and ears out.

Second, google around for any companies listed in your area with "liquidation" or even "estate" in the title. Ask around within your own social and business network about anyone who works for banks doing foreclosures.

I stumbled into the first one of these, and now I am on their mailing list.

Happy hunting!

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