I shop at local online auctions every week. I feel like it’s this little secret I have, and while I haven’t wanted to spill the beans and invite even more people into the auctions, you need to understand that I get a lot of the vintage and antique pieces I own via these local online auctions.
Sure I love a good thrifting session, too, and in the summer, I break for garage and yard sales on the regular, but my online auctions are where I find the best deals on unique vintage and antique pieces!
Take, for example, this pottery. I bid on and won a box of handmade stoneware for $50. Look at how pretty it is!
My framed mid-century owl sketching? $40
My antique banker’s lamp? $10 – if you were to purchase a reproduction of this that was nowhere near as well made and devoid of the patina at a store like TJ Maxx, etc. you’d probably spend $75.
This King-sized quilt? It’s antique and gorgeous with bits of wear, and I got it for a song ($50).
Plus I’ve purchased almost all of the furniture in our home via local online estate sale auctions.
So, you ask, where does one find these auctions?
Glad you asked! I’m willing to divulge because I really don’t care for secrets. Years ago, I had a small flea market booth that I shared with an interior design friend. Both of us were new mamas without a lot of time on our hands and no caregivers for our babies. So to get inventory for our booth, we’d strap our babies onto our chests and head out to garage and estate sales. If you have children, you know how challenging shopping with a baby strapped to your chest can be! Some days were better than others, but overall trying to push past estate sale go-ers with a screeching child attached to you becomes exasperating pretty quickly. There needed to be a better way.
Thrift stores, although wonderful in their own right (and yes, there’s always the possibility of scoring a gem for a song – but honestly, not usually), weren’t going to cut it for inventory. We needed exceptional, very vintagey pieces, and we needed to be able to fancy up and turn around and sell our goods for a profit (to pay for our booth space rent, and you know, also put a little money in the bank). This is when I found the website estatesales.net. The website lists local in-person estate sales and online estate sales, which are almost always set up as auctions.
I was especially intrigued by the idea of online estate sale auctions. At first, I was a bit leery, wondering if these online sales were legit. So, researching the auction companies, and learning more about how the auctions worked, I hit my first online auction and never really turned back!
How Online Estate Sale Auctions Work
Some online estate sale auction houses run auctions weekly. I never bother with auctions that arent’ in my area, as I don’t want to deal with the cost of shipping, which tends to mitigate the relatively low price I’m paying for whatever auction item I’ve won. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of online auctions where I live, as we reside in a small mountain village about 40 minutes from the nearest actual city. Usually, 2-3 auctions are running each week or weekend within approximately a 50-mile radius of my home (that’s about as far as I’ll drive to pick up my winnings).
The way to find auctions happening in your locale is to go to estatesales.net and enter your zip code on the home page. A new page will open with estate sales listings within your area (I usually include a filter of about a 50-mile radius range). For example, I just typed in the zip code 80302, Boulder, Colorado, which produced a pretty long list of estate sales. Some are in-person typical estate sales, and then quite a few popped up that are online estate sale auction sites. The company Auction Ninja runs online auctions in this area of the country. Another one that popped up is Maxsold.
The auctions typically run from a few short days to two weeks. You register, scroll through the items for sale and then place bids on those items you’re interested in buying, very much like eBay. Things get interesting on the last day of the auction in the minutes before an item is supposed to “close” – this is when you might find yourself bidding frantically with another bidder, it can go on for a while as the closes are soft closes which means if you bid in the very last seconds of the auction, the timer starts up again for another minute to give someone else a moment to bid again if they want to.
With online estate sale auctions, you still get the thrill of the hunt if that’s your thing but from the comfort of your own home.
Give online estate sale bidding a try, and let me know what you think!