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This month’s article is taking us out of the flea market and into the estate sale.

Estate sales are not for the faint of heart. There are generally long lines to get inside to shop and “the early bird gets the worm” definitely applies.

I asked Patty McCallister, a professional estate liquidator at Witcher Creek Vintage LLC, for her top tips on navigating estate sales. Here’s what she had to say:

Know before you go

If you have the opportunity to view photos or video of the sale you plan to attend, take advantage of it so you can plan your shopping strategy. If you have a general idea of where the item you are looking for is located, it will help you in your conquest.

And if you can bring a friend, you can divide and conquer. Use Google maps if you aren’t familiar with the area. Who wants to waste precious sale time by driving around in the wrong subdivision?

The early hunter

gets the treasure

Plan to arrive at the sale location at least 30 minutes before the doors open. Remember, the person who is at the front of the line just may be coming for the very thing you want. Nothing more disappointing than walking in and watching your treasure heading out the door with someone else.

Cash is king

Flashing the green gives you great negotiating power. Whoever comes up with the cash first is the winner in my book, and you don’t have to deal with pesky credit card fees either. No credit card fees means I can pass along more money to my client. So hit up that ATM before you head out on your treasure-hunting trip.

Measure first, move last

If your heart is set on that antique china cabinet you saw in the preview photos, then measure the space where you plan to put it.

Take your tape measure with you to the sale so there will be no doubt it will have the perfect place to go when you get it back home. The same rule applies for large appliances, and you may need to rent a dolly if it’s a refrigerator.

Make sure you have friends with the right size vehicle to help you when it’s ready to move from the sale location. If you buy it, more than likely you will be responsible for moving it.

Last but not least

As much as they hope for the perfect location for every estate sale, estate liquidators don’t get to choose the location of the home. The majority of the sales are in residential areas, where parking may be minimal.

So, please, be courteous when choosing your place to park on sale days. Be respectful of the client’s home and personal property. And give a nod, smile or pat on the back to those who work so hard to make each sale event a great one for all our treasure-hunting friends.

A special thank you to Patty for these great tips. Happy hunting.

Lesa Smith is owner of Salvaged to Sassy, an occasional vintage market in Charleston. Salvaged to Sassy will host the Spring Vintage Market at the WV Pumpkin Park in April. For more information, visit www.salvaged or follow Salvaged to Sassy on Facebook.

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