My sister, Kelly, sent me this video. She knows me too well! I cannot avoid a good estate sale and this video highlights just how crazy I am!


I’m really hoping that you all aren’t super tired of hearing about the trip that I took way back in JULY. Remember I went to Marion, KS, Kansas City, MO, St. Louis, and Chicago? So, hang in there because I’m almost done. Promise!

Also, remember my post about Breckenridge, Texas were I swore at myself like a sailor for losing my pictures. Guess what?! I found some of them! Yay! Enough to give you my Thrift Tourist write up about Mendelson Liquidation Outlet, anyway. ***Disclaimer, settle in for a lot of photos, y’all...

But first, we went all the way to a suburb of Detroit, MI to go here…

That’s not just any Estate Sale, my friends. Nope, it’s a CASH AND CARI Estate Sale. I was super pumped!

When we got there, they were filming. We walked in toward the end of the sale so Cari was just chillin’ in the living room in a recliner. We chatted with her about where we were from and then checked out the rest of the sale. The home was of a serious collector of Americana. Also, there was a gigantic Barbie. Honestly, she (the Barbie) was a little creepy.

Cari was super nice and so was everyone else working there. I didn’t get a picture with her because I don’t want to be that type of fan. Also, my biggest reason, I had just gotten out of the car after riding for five hours so let’s just say I wasn’t exactly camera ready. Anywho, super cool experience and so glad we went. We actually didn’t buy anything, though.

She did reply tweet to me, so that was nice!

Okay, on to Dayton, Ohio. We went to the Springfield Antique Show and Flea Market where I either didn’t take any photos or lost all of mine. Poop. Drat.

After there we went to downtown Dayton and hit up Mendelson Liquidation Outlet. Here’s the Apartment Therapy Marketplace page and their Ebay site. They don’t really have a website.

First, let me just say “Holy Outlet Shopping, Batman!!!” When we walked into this place (two buildings and three huge floors), I’m pretty sure our mouths just dropped. This is the graveyard where all closed retail shops, restaurants, schools, whatsoever go to rest.

It was super overwhelming at first. There were rows, rows, and more rows of old fixtures from retail shops. Like, jewelry display cases, shelving, books cases, tables, booths, and so much more.

After this building, we went over to the main building (the one from the picture above). It’s got five floors and three of which are accessible to customers. The final floor we went on was nothing but electrical supplies and hardware. Insane.

Too rainbowlicious not to grab a photo of.

Rows of chairs…

I seriously considered purchasing these crates, but my wise mother talked me out of them. She noticed that they weren’t just dirty but that dirt was oil. I was too blinded by their rustic, box crate-y goodness to see that this oil residue would be a nightmare. Thanks, Mom!

Also, on this floor were more storage solutions that I could wrap my mind around (can you tell I was a wee bit overwhelmed?). Wouldn’t these be awesome in an office/craft/sewing space? Bolts of pretty patterned fabric folded up in these?

If I had room in my house or in the car, these old, school chairs would have come home with me. For what, I don’t know, but they were fab. One in every color would make an awesome kiddos art space. Not that I have kiddos, but I do have a niece and nephew!

More storage solution goodness…

These rainbow patterned dishes made me pause. I thought they were so sweet and pretty. We don’t need them and I’ve already got too many coffee mugs. Cute though, right? Oh and if you notice, the plates didn’t have the yellow that the mugs did. Bummer.

Did you hang in there? Through all those photos? Thanks!

Can you believe I didn’t even show you all the clothing, industrial kitchen supplies, books, outdoor furniture, lighting, lockers, and more? That’s how huge this place is! If you find yourself in Dayton, OH you must stop in here! If not to buy, just to look. Also, this place makes you wonder why anyone would ever buy anything new for their store. Mendelson had it all!

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Recently, I was finally able to put into words what’s going on in my house in terms of design. First, let me give you some back story. I went straight from my parent’s house into the college dorms, took a little detour from college for about a year and decided that having no money was not fun, moved out to Lubbock, Texas for school, graduated my undergrad and then dove straight into grad school. Over all of that time, I’ve had 12 roommates! So, moving on, needless to say my house has always been a mesh-mash of family hand me downs, Craigslist finds, and roommate leftovers.

I’ve realized that even though I’m still thrifty like I was during college, my style shouldn’t look like I’m still IN college.

This all leads me to this one little corner in my house that I finally took a nice long look at and decided I HATED it! Well, except for that sweet little dog that makes her way into most photos! Hi, Jackie-O! That bulky black stand up fan was awesome when my parents got it from Wal-Mart seven years ago. Too bulky and I’m not digging the black…at all. The lamp shelf thing I bought off a friend for $10 when she was about to move. I hated dusting it and it was always filled with random knick knacks that felt forced. Also, the black metal doesn’t go with my house.

So, into the garage sale they went! Yay!

Then the corner sat empty for about two months. I went back and forth on what to do with it and here’s what we’ve got now…

Ah…much better. I found this lovely little record player at the same Goodwill where I bought my Lane cedar chest. They have an auction every week and this was one of the items. It’s a Webcor Musicale. I told myself I wouldn’t pay more than $50, because it still needs some work (possibly just a tune up).

How the auction works is that the items are on display for the week and there’s a note book you can write your bid in (kinda like a silent auction). Then on Saturday at 4 o’clock they begin the auction. The record player was already at $50 in the book when I got there and I almost left. But, instead I decided to hang around and just see how the auction went. Everything was going for only 1 buck over the price in the book. It was madness to me! Only a dollar over!? So, I figured I’ll bid $51 and just see if I get the piece. Sure enough, the record player came up and no one bid on it so I threw my hand in the air for $51! Once, twice, sold and it was mine!

I knew it would fit perfectly in this space and it totally does!

Here’s the breakdown of everything else in the photo.

The beautiful orchid was a completely unexpected gift to me from a friend recently. It’s so beautiful.

 I placed it on this lovely Taylorstone Moderne saucer that came with a set of four for $4 at an estate sale. Here’s an Etsy posting with the same saucers: Taylorstone Moderne – 8 Saucers

The glow on the orchid pot is from this little brass candle holder I got this weekend at an estate sale for only $2! I love the light that comes through the little clover cutouts.

This paint by number is exactly what I wanted for this space. I’m not in love with the frame and so I might paint it eventually or do an awesome antique silver leaf. I got this PBN on my trip to Chicago at Edgewater Antique Mall. The price was $28 and it was 20% percent off, so with tax I think I paid about $25ish.

Price breakdown:

Vintage record player- $55 (w/ tax)

Orchid: Free

Brass candle holder: $2

Vintage Daher tin: $6

Vintage saucer: $1

Horse Paint by Number: $25

Total: $89!!!

Have you been to any Goodwill auctions? Do you have a small before and after you’ve done recently? We’d love to see it! Just put your link in the comments below!

I linked up over at Her Library Adventures and Apron Thrift Girl.

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Now that you’ve got all of our Secondhand shopping tips, it’s time to move onto where to actually shop. This week we’ve got Part One for you. Here goes:

Sales You Have to Search for:

Searching Resources: When searching for various sales, it seems that your best option to check out local paper ads,, Auction Zip, Thrifty Nickel, and most often Craigslist. A really useful app for sifting through all those ads on Craigslist is iGarageSales. It’s available for iPhones and Androids. It does cost $1.99 but it’s totally worth it! The search feature (seen below) really makes it easy to find what you’re looking for, like estate sales or furniture.

Estate Sales: Start early, especially if you’ve seen a preview of the sale and you’ve got your eye on a specific item. One of the best things about estate sales is that the last day often means 50% off! The downfall to estate sales is that they are essentially a business with people needing to make profits. Because of this, in some states, you have to pay taxes on the items you buy. That’s important to know and factor in, when you seen a price. Also, if you happen upon an estate sale because of street signs, keep a look out for the name of the company that’s running the sale because often they have an email list at the register. By all means, sign up! They will send you emails with the information for their next sales and often allow you to come check it out earlier if you’re on their email list.

Watch out for ads that say “Estate Sale” but are really just for a garage sale. How to tell the difference is that true estate sales are often ran by a company and they keep the sale open at least 2 days and sometimes up to 4.

Here’s an example of a recent ad on Craigslist that says Estate Sale but isn’t a legit one:

Round Rock Subdivision

Estate Sale
90x Lane
Round Rock, TX 78xxx

TODAY ONLY– Saturday August 6, 12 – 4pm


Household items, china, glassware, collectibles, picture frames, cookware, teapot collection, vintage aprons, gloves, vintage pillowcases, vintage sewing notions, old material, old lace, blankets, 1950’s cocktail dresses, 1970’s vintage clothes, maple china hutche, lazy boy, vintage 1940’s harp coffee table, lamps, chairs, sofa, mirror, framed artwork, old sheet music, old records, and much more.


Although, they probably have good items this sale isn’t an actual estate sale and can be really frustrating if you get there and everything is just set outside. Also, it was just one day.

Here’s an example of a true Estate Sale:


Address of Sale:
4306 Ct., Austin, TX, 78xxx

Sale Dates and Times:
8/5/2011 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM (Friday)
8/6/2011 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM (Saturday)
8/7/2011 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM (Sunday)

Sale Description:
Another excellent sale from Thistle Estate Sales in a house bursting with wonderful items & great deals. Furniture, home design stuff, toys galore, books, DVDs, a Wii system, a full (and great kitchen), a packed garage, wonderful Halloween and Christmas decorations & much else besides! Lots of modern brands: Black & Decker, Target, Garden Ridge, Real Simple etc, items never opened. A great combination of the practical and the appealing. Don’t miss out!

This ad was actually much longer and listed out each major item that was at the sale. Not to mention, they are running the sale for 3 days and mention the name of company.

(Total cliché auctioneer photo!)

Auctions: Auctions are a lot of fun, too! But, if you’re competitive (like Jess is) you have to make sure that you’re being realistic. I’ve had a few times that I’ve left auctions heartsick but you kind of have to play it by ear and be committed to the things you like. You need to start early at an auction to get a good survey of the items you want before the chaos of the auction begins and to plan your day. Often, the auctioneer will indicate on the flier when big items (like cars and houses) will sell and at the beginning of the auction will give you a roadmap of how they’ll progress through the items for sale. That can really help you plan your day! Once you’re at the auction, survey the items you want and try to get a feel for when they might come up. Usually, I’m even able to leave the auction site and grab a meal in between items I’m interested in.  Even with the best planning, you still need to be prepared to wait. Some dealers may help speed the auction along by buying little lots that aren’t selling very quickly. Keep an eye on these opportunities because sometimes you can get a great little deal for not very much money at all.

After you’ve surveyed the goods at the auction, take some time to survey the other buyers. Even if you’re not interested in items currently on the block, you can get a feel for who is interested in what kinds of items and whether they tend to let an item go at a certain price. This can really work to your advantage. First, you may be able to back off of an item sooner because you know you’re likely to get outbid and help the auction move on faster. Second, you may be able to outbid someone because you realize that they’re buying it to resale. Likely, you can outbid them and still end up paying less than you would if you bought it from them at an antique store later.

Garage/Yard Sales: As with estate sales, start early. Especially if you’re looking for furniture. Be willing to clean something up and dig.  These folks aren’t usually as well versed in display of items like estate sale professionals so you have to look past what’s visually appealing to you. Be willing to ask people if they have anything else they’d like to sell, especially if you’re looking for something specific. At the last garage sale Mary had, a man came up and asked if there were any musical instruments for sale. It just so happened that Brendan had an electric guitar he’d been wanting to sell sitting in the closet. So, it’s possible that people have other items they don’t want to haul out and are willing to let go of.

Church/Local Organization Rummage Sales: These are separate from your average garage/yard sale because 1.) people don’t have as much invested in pieces seeing as though they are donated 2.) someone is usually around to help you load the furniture 3.) there is a lot more to choose from and usually more inventory that you can weed through.

(Image from the Springfield Antique Show)

Flea markets or Antique Shows: Most of the time flea markets and antiques shows are reoccurring with standing dates and times. This year Mary featured the large antique show in Round Top, Texas. Antique dealers go to these locations regularly every year or in some cases more frequently So, get to know where the ones are in your area and check them out. Also, this is something a bit easier to Google if you’re driving through a place. Be prepared to spend a little bit more on antiques at an antique show as sellers may consider the pieces “show quality” and thus worth more money or they may be more comfortable factoring in a higher amount of overhead on a sale.

Stay tuned next week for our list and tips for brick and mortar sales and online secondhand shopping! Any other tips you think we should add?

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So Eclectic is a blog dedicated to great ideas for home design. Austin, Texas-based writer Mary Marcum and Savannah, Missouri-based writer Jess Rezac feature affordable decor, decorating solutions, and inspiration. At So Eclectic, we experiment with design together. So Eclectic posts new content every weekday.

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