The Art of the Estate Sale

Chanel-bag-Stella-McCartney-jacket-Prada-sunnies-680x1024Chanel bag (found at a China Cat estate sale)

It's no secret that I love a good estate sale. There's just something about hunting through mounds of jewelry and piles of clothes and returning triumphant with that one special item—a vintage Dior dress, a mirrored side table, a gorgeous LANVIN necklace... Recently, I spoke with Ray Fisher, the owner of China Cat Estate Sale Management, about the ins-and-outs of the estate sale world. Check out our July issue for that piece. In the meantime, here's a rundown of what to expect at an estate sale.

  • Expect to wake up early. Most estate sales don't start until 9 AM, but people start lining up much earlier. Early bird gets the worm—or, in this case, the vintage treasure. Fisher says that, for a really good sale, people will start lining up 24 hours in advance.
  • Know the difference between a yard sale and an estate sale. Estate sales are selling the entire contents of an estate, and they usually include a few valuables. So come with your checkbook in hand. Don't expect to find a $2 side table. These items will be nicer (ad hopefully in better shape) than those you'd find at a garage sale.
  • If you're looking for a bargain—wait it out. “At China Cat, we will not break on price the first day," says Fisher. "The second day, we’ll offer everything at 20% off and the final day usually 50% off. I don’t go below 50%, though. That’s just a matter of principle.”

For more from Fisher (plus tips on hosting your own estate sale), check out our July issue.

Lanvin-Balenciaga-Rag-Bonevintage LANVIN dress (this is a really amazing piece, as it actually has the LANVIN logo on the hem of the dress and on the sleeves, and is in mint condition)—got it for $5