How do you go treasure hunting?

I get a lot of questions about my treasure hunting and since I have literally been around the block a few times (hunting means you’re driving a lot) I thought I’d share a few quick tips.


Last year, myself and a handful of other vintage sellers were featured on a blog post by all about tips for shopping estate sales and the etiquette that goes along with that.  (There are some great tips in that blog, go read it 🙂 )  Now, you can totally just show up to an estate sale unannounced and unprepared, but having a couple cards up your sleeve will help make it a much more enjoyable experience for you and everyone else shopping.

  1.  Map out your stops! I usually know where I’m going the day before I go hunting.  Either by scrolling craigslist for sales or having received email notifications from a few local estate sale companies. I have a plan of attack.  I have a route and an escape plan to the nearest coffee shop/bathroom 🙂
  2. Eat something! And COFFEE! If I go hunting on an empty stomach, I usually over pay for things, get irritated with the human race and burn out early. Purse snacks are always a good idea. 🙂
  3. Bring a tote.  It’s all about the tote life, or at least some version of a handy bag.  Whenever I forget my basket, I’m always that person walking through an estate sale with my arms so full I can’t turn my head from side to side. Bringing a nice basket allows to you dig and hunt without having to worry about where you set your stuff down, because more often than not, someone will scoop it up.
  4. Cash is KING! Cash is always the best route for estate sales! It makes things easy! Buuuut, there are a couple estate sale companies that I love that will actually take a bank card and then if needed you have an actual receipt.  (I have stumbled across an estate sale before with no cash, but thank the stars they took a card!)
  5. Be kind, courteous, and not a jerk. I’ve been to enough estates to have seen some stuff, and I’m not just talking treasures.  I have seen behavior from people you wish could say were not from this planet.  Truly horrible.  It makes for a bad experience not only for fellow shoppers, but also the people running the estate sale.  Remember also that you don’t know if the person’s family or even the person themselves are there, and making rude comments or being disrespectful is just never okay!
  6. Estate sales are very much first come first serve, but I truly believe that if i didn’t get it, it wasn’t meant to be! I will not let it ruin my day.


I love a good thrift store, and I definitely have my favorites.  One of the most common questions I get is “how do you find this stuff?!”  To completely honest, it is simply the luck of the day! Sure I have trained my eye to spot the things I like, but it really is just being in the right spot at the right time…oh, and the willingness to get my hands dirty and dig past the junk to find the gold!  I try and visit my favorite spots at least once a week, more if a girl friend calls and wants to meet up for some hunting (I’m lookin’ at you, Jess).

1. Plan of attack, Cash and bags (though most thrift stores in our area still provide plastic bags)

2.  ALWAYS GET A CART.  It never fails that when I don’t grab a shopping cart, I find treasures galore and then have to make my way back to the front of the store for a cart, and who knows how many treasures were grabbed while I was away 🙂

3.  Although most stores are organized pretty well, you never know what will end up where.  That vintage vase you’ve always been looking for may very well be in the shoe aisle.  Don’t ask why, just grab it and say thank you.

4. Most thrift stores have coupons and discount days! Look either in the newspaper or on Facebook and even some great email coupons! Don’t be afraid to ask!

5. Have a thing of hand sanitizer or wipes with you.  Thrift Hand is a real thing and I highly recommend a nice wipe down afterwards.  No one wants to shake your grimy hand, no matter what amazing thing you may have found.

6.  Patience, Kindness, and basic human decency still applies.  Don’t be rude.  And guess what, you start to make friends with the people who work at the thrifts, and sometimes when you come in, they may tip you off to some great treasures or even give you freebies. Yup, true store. Kindness does pay.

7. Have a sense of humor.  You take the fun right out of the hunt if you’re being a serious sally.  It’s supposed to be fun!

The thrill of the hunt is addicting! You never know what you will stumble across and yes, sometimes you see nothing but garbage. But look enough and you may just find your version of the Holy Grail! If you ever want to tag along, let me know! I love having a good hunting buddy and I’m not afraid to share my favorite spots! 🙂

Happy Hunting! 

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