Weirdest Estate Sale…Ever?

Maison 21’s blog is one of the funniest ones in the blogosphere. This week he’s been sharing his reaction to the “estate sale” at Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch. He’s calling his posts “The good, the bad, the ugly and the creepy.” And from the looks of things, the Prince of Pop really had some, er, questionable taste. Life-size statues of butlers, nasty leather Laz-E-Boy chairs, bizarro golden King Tut harps, the list goes on and on. And don’t get me started on the children’s scooters. Eeew. Aside from MJ’s allegedly criminally creepy sale, Maison’s blog brings me to some fond memories of bizarre estate sales I’ve attended in all these years I’ve been junking. Like the sale in Griffin, Georgia, held by an elderly woman’s great-niece. The woman’s parents owned a small-town department store for many years. She never married, spending her life caring for mama and papa after their deaths, closing the store eventually, and staying on in the family homeplace, but adding additional storerooms onto it over the years. It was only when Great-Aunt Whoozie died that her heirs discovered that for 20 or 30 years she’d been steadily “looting” the family store, squirrelling away stuff for…who knows? She liked to pick out dress patterns and fabric and notions, pin them all together in a paper sack, then stash them in her happy place. She also liked porcelain what-nots and lots and lots of cotton housedresses (from the 40s and 50s) and silk and satin slips and nighties. Dozens and dozens and dozens of them. I wrote a story about the resulting estate sale for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and still have one of the housedresses and a satin slip from the sale. A junker’s dream–a whole warehouse full of old, untouched store stock. Good times! I’ve been to more than one of these obsessive-compulsive estate sales. And yes, I realize this is a mental illness, and it’s sad and disturbing. Still…Once, the late homeowner had developed a craze for buying wine and wine-related items. The dining room was stuffed full of hundreds and hundreds of wine glasses, decanters, and wine doo-dads. The entire basement–and this was a huge basement–held crates and crates of wine, none of them ever unpacked. Much of it had gone bad. The poor woman also liked paper goods for every holiday imaginable. My friend Marifae got a great mahogany china cabinet from that sale, and I bought a sweet straw boater. How about you? In honor of spring estate sale season blossoming, anybody got any bizarro estate sale stories to share? C’mon and share, and I’ll pick a random winner and award you…something cool.

13 thoughts on “Weirdest Estate Sale…Ever?”

  1. There was an ederly lady that lived in my hometown. When she passed on, her family held a big yard sale. Each and every thing she owned had her name written with a Sharpie on it! My mom still has a bundt pan with “Mary Ethel Sims” written on it in BIG letters! It makes great pound cakes!

  2. My personal “Breeze Inn” is located in a county with a lot of poverty. We usually go to garage sales on a Saturday, and it’s often heartbreaking to see the “treasures” that are up for sale. And the estate sales I’ve been to are even worse, because the houses smell musty, are disheveled, and haven’t seen paint (or cleaning products) for many years.

    I often tell my husband, “There but for the Grace of God . . .”

  3. Several years ago I went to an estate auction in “Old Town” Conyers, Georgia. Everything was auctioned, and I mean everything went and then the house itself was auctioned. The house and all the belongings were owned by an elderly couple that had no children. The husband had passed away in his early 90’s and the wife was in a nursing home (middle 90’s). Pack rats don’t even begin to describe this couple. The auction moved from room to room as there was absolutely sooo much stuff that the auctioneer just discovered the treasures as he went. He was auctioning a huge hat collection in a closet in a bedroom where there were hundreds of hats stored. Most of the hats still had the price tags on them, tags from Sears and Roebuck for $2.99 and some were from Davisons for $3.99. As more and more hats were being auctioned and moved out, the closet was getting emptied out and it turned out that it was not a closet after all. It was a very large bathroom that looked like it had never been used for anything but storing hundreds of hats! So, the house description was changed from the advertised 1 bath to 2 baths.

  4. I love your books and your blog! You make me want to hit the yard/estate sales!

    My weirdest estate sale unfortunately, is one that I am in charge of. My mother passed away last Easter, and to say that she was a collector is putting it mildly. So far, I have had two sales, and have not been through but two rooms…the sun porch and the den. She collected cookie jars, books, deviled egg plates, dishes, glassware, purses, shoes, and way more. The craziest thing I've discovered so far is that she collected sewing machines. She also quilted, so she had tons of fabric, but that is a whole 'nother story! I have found at least 20 sewing machines! Everything from a brand new machine that monograms to three antique sewing machines…and many many in between! (At least she did sew, it does make it sound more legitimate…I just wish I could sew!) As I have dug through her stuff, I have found love letters from my father when he was in the army, and other priceless things I had never seen…like the bill from the hospital when I was born. I have to carefully go through every thing because she put the things that meant the most to her in some of the oddest places. In the middle of a drawer full of every slip she ever bought was her greatgrandmother's handwritten book of recipes from the 1800's tied together with pantyhose in a TG&Y bag! Going through this stuff preparing it to sale is heartwarming, heartbreaking, frustrating, and hilarious, all at the same time. It's definitely the weirdest estate sale I have ever been a part of!

  5. Oh My. I chuckled a bit (even though I shouldn’t have) because I worry that if I were alone, I would surrounded by Owls, Oil Lamps and several cats!

  6. I need to add more to my Conyers, Georgia estate auction. While the lady of the house was stockpiling Sunday hats her husband was into magic tricks and pranks. I won a set of trick water glasses that my husband and I have had many laughs with (inwardly of course) my trick water glasses. There is 1 trick glass out of a set of 6 glasses. You absolutely cannot tell the trick glass from the others. You choose your victim and set the water glass with his/her place setting at dinner. Every time the victim takes a drink the water (or other choice beverage) drips down the chin, shirt, lap! It is hilarious to watch (covertly of course). It is mine and my husband’s secret! My moter-in-law has been the ricipient of the glass many times!

  7. About two years ago at my parents beach house, there were signs at every antique store for this “Fabulous Auction”. Every store we went into, the owner would hand us a flyer and insist we go. Needless to say, the girls were quite excited! The “auction” ended up being at a religous compound. The “auctioned off items” were sandwiches, coloring books, stadium seat cushions, a thermos, please don’t make go on…. It still makes us laugh to this day. Yet, it also scares us just a little bit. 🙂

  8. My MIL is a hoarder and goes from one obsession to another, china, dolls, rugs, posters, clothes, it’s unbelievable. The sad thing is the house is so crammed with things it’s becoming a hazard for her and my FIL. They are in their late 70’s. We have begged and pleaded to let us thin out some of the “treasures” but she won’t let us touch anything. I’m going to have to learn how to run one or two dozen yard sales. Her latest craze is Barbie, she has houses, cars, clothes, shoes piled high in what used to be the library. We rue the day she found out about EBAY! We try to explain that you can also sell things on the site! I’ll let you know when we start you’ll have to make a trip to Richmond. Love your books, Kim

  9. The BEST and most unusual estate sale I have ever attended was held in Monticello Georgia. When I arrived, I saw it was inside a huge antebellum mansion with untended gardens all around. The elderly gentleman who lived alone there had gone to a nursing home and had no close kin. His neighbor ladies had gotten together and were holding an estate sale in the old mansion for him. It looked as if only he had been living there alone since the 1960s and once inside, I realized little had changed since then. I am an antiques dealer and have been to MANY estate sales, but never one like this one…. It felt as if you were walking into history. I was one the first inside and what met my eyes there was an untouched living history museum. As I stood in wonder, I was oblivious to people crowding around me to get inside….people who soon were grabbing up things right and left as I wandered through the downstairs rooms in an antique lover’s stupor. I had just made it upstairs and slipped into one of the bedrooms there, before the frantic grabbing around me finally caught my eye and snapped me back to attention. It was then that I remembered why I had come, I was there to buy! The nursery I stepped into across the hall had toys dating back to the 1800s still scattered around in front of the fireplace and displayed on the mantle looking just like they had been left there by the last child to play with them many decades earlier. As I came back to my senses in that room, I began to gather some of these tiny treasures for myself as antique toys, dolls and things like mother used are particular favorites of mine and my customers. For the rest of the day, I would go back and forth from antique dealer/shopper mode into the history buff/home tourist mode. When I opened one of the giant wardrobes in one of the bedrooms it literally took my breath away…..there were clothes, elegant clothes, ladies, men’s and even children’s, stuffed there in layers that went from the 1960s back a hundred years or more as you delved deeper and deeper into the back of the many wardrobes and closets in the bedrooms upstairs. Elegant ball gowns for ladies and young girls, one piece long johns, petticoats, all the way back to dresses that I’m sure would have fit the bill for the wardrobe procurer’s for movies such as Gone With the Wind….. In and out I went up and down the stairs with my pile growing at the lady neighbor’s feet, rising higher and higher with each trip……. The sale lasted all weekend long and I was there bright and early each day. Sometimes I would just wander in the untended gardens around the old mansion and imagine what it must have been like to have lived there when the empty cement ponds and fountains all flowed with water and flowers and shrubs bloomed all around. I could never tell you in this one comment all the treasures I found there and even more that I missed that I would see going by in the arms of another…. It was the sale of a lifetime, one this antique dealer of 30 years will surely never forget!

  10. …Oh the stories I could tell about the OCD estates I have dealt with. But my lips, as a matter of professionalism, are sealed.

    You have a very well put together site here – Smart – Witty, and visually appealing.

    I think that you are somewhere in the Atlanta area. If you are interested I could add your name as an Estate Sales Blogger for the Atlanta Area.

    Look around the site, it's informative…


  11. Great stories – great post! We've seen a LOT of weird sales and things over the years. One of the weirdest things was a crazy-packed linen closet filed with strange and unusual items, including a small blue-lidded jar sealed with a piece of plastic wrap that had 2-3 fake eye balls in it! Ewww!

  12. Michael Jackson's estate sale? How did I miss that! Have you been to It’s my favorite garage/estate sale site because you can post or search photos and descriptions of everything for sale at local yard sales… it helps find the best garage sales before you head out.

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