Well, it started yesterday. The Governor of Rhode Island lifted the stay-at-home order. Our state is the first in the region, I believe. We don’t plan on running out though. We have decided to stay at home so we can watch things unfold.
Throughout the pandemic, I have tried very hard not to think about events that will be canceled. What is the point? I can’t do anything about it anyway. There was one thing though, that I hadn’t considered – estate sales. My husband and I LOVE estate sales. We get some of the best stuff there, especially records for our collection.
I did not dwell on this thought, but, instead, was inspired to write a little about my (our) experiences with estate sales. If you visit my thrifty & nifty page, you will find some photos and write-ups about estate sales.
Let me tell you about my first experience with estate sales. I often peruse yard sale finder websites, since I love a good yard sale! Somehow, an estate sale ended up on the yard sale website. I took down the address and drove over, not realizing it was not technically a yard sale. I pulled up to the house and was very surprised that the lawn was empty! Where were all the tables and boxes?! I followed the signs into the house. I noticed people walking around and pulling items off the shelves and the kitchen counters. I was very confused. I tried to blend in as much as possible, by looking very closely at items on the counter, while also observing what others were doing. After a while (and Googling on my phone), I realized what an estate sale is.
The home was very dated. It was clear the owner(s) were elderly, as the bedroom still had a portable toilet and walker near the bed. As I made my way through the home, I became sad. I wondered if this couple had adult children. If so, why didn’t they take the time to go through their family’s possessions? I realize each family dynamic is different. I cannot assume all families are like mine.
I did a slow walk of the house and I don’t think I purchased anything. I cannot quite remember. When I got home, I thought more about it. My husband’s son was moving into his first apartment at the time, and I thought an estate sale would have been a great place for him to go shopping. I had more thoughts about getting kitchen gadgets at better prices (and better quality). I decided I would try another estate sale.
I entered the second estate sale with a bit more confidence. I walked around each room, slowly looking at items, and going through them. I still felt very strange about going through the closets, so I didn’t. I smiled when I saw a most fashionable closet full of proper dresses and a set of matching pillbox hats. What a fabulous woman she must have been! Then, I made the mistake of about thinking about the people who once lived here…
To me, it is very hard to separate the people from the sale. Maybe it is just me. People’s homes tell a story. The arrangement of furniture, the photos on the walls or the colors of the bedding are all chosen by the individuals. It all tells a story. It is literally the fabric of their lives. As I walk through the home, it’s like finding little clues, and I have to piece the story together.
The more estate sales I visited, the less I thought about the people and the more I thought about the items. I started bringing my husband with me. He is always delighted to dig through the garage for tools and fishing gear. Not me though, I am always in the office or living room. I am looking for precious books or records. I remember one sale, I picked up a sweet, old Disney book. I think it was Mary Poppins.
I commented to my husband once, that I wish I brought my camera to some of the sales. Some of the items (which I would never buy) were just too cool. I wished to capture the images for myself. So, I started taking photographs with my phone. No one ever objected. I still shop, but many times, I am taking photographs of the little clues.
But for now, I suppose this adventure is on hold. I cannot imagine anyone holding estate sales among social distancing and masks. I will miss it. I hope they return (safely) soon though.