Get To Houston-area Estate Sales for Culinary Finds

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Photo by Joanna O'Leary
Not a bad price for an antique grinding mill.

I've never thought of myself as a "garage sale person." You know, the type that gets up at the crack of dawn every Saturday with a pre-planned itinerary of all the yard sales and flea markets around town and a steadfast determination to wrangle great bargains on novelty items. During this past summer, however, I have become much more interested (my husband might say "obsessed") with estate sales because of the wide assortment of interesting, and often discounted, culinary accessories to be had at them.

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of an estate (or tag) sale, it's similar to a yard or garage sale, except that the wares are usually marketed inside a house that has been recently sold. A number of private companies in Houston handle larger estate sales; this website can be helpful in determining times and locations for sales at which you might even score a set of vintage Fiestaware.

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Photo by Joanna O'Leary
Only $10 for a silver butter dish? Even better was that it was going for 50 percent off on the final day of the sale.

Gastronomes will appreciate estate sales for the opportunities they present to pick up vintage, antique, and/or one-of-kind kitchen tools, cutlery, china, and holiday serving dishes. I also get a huge kick out of checking out old-school cookbooks and scrapbooks of recipes.

If going through a (sometimes dead) stranger's home and personal belongings creeps you out, estate sales are not for you. But should you wish to venture into the funky world of recycled material goods via estate sales, here are three tips to keep in mind:

  • Go early for the best selection.
  • Go late for the best prices (most companies discount items 50-75 percent in the final hours of the sale).
  • Don't be afraid to bargain.
  • Be courteous and respectful of the property. A fluorescent-yellow mug may not be your cup of tea, but refrain from shouting, "God, how TACKY is this!" across the room. Sometimes, the people running the estate sales are the owners themselves, or friends or family of the deceased.
  • Bring cash.

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