I’ve been frequenting estate sales for a couple of years now, but due to scheduling and locations I hadn’t yet shopped with A&A Estate Wizards. Now that I have, I’m sure that I won’t a second time.
I typically try to arrive after the initial melee of shoppers have gone through in order to avoid standing around and waiting for the sale to start, but some items in the preview photos for this sale particularly intrigued me so I decided to mingle with the throng of Regulars (those folks who hit up multiple sales every weekend, and who are always first in line). The sale was about a 45 minute drive away so I gassed up the car, cashed up my wallet, and headed down to arrive 20-25 minutes before doors were scheduled to open.
It was no surprise to see a sign-up sheet on the door, and I was even prepared with my own pen. Good thing, too, as the “Wizards” hadn’t provided one. It did feel a little silly to sign up as #36 on the list, because…well, here’s how these things typically work: Some estate sale companies employ the use of sign-up sheets so that they aren’t overrun with rabid bargain hunters as soon as they open the door. Particularly when the house is small, has a clunky floor plan, or when there’s lots of furniture, it can be a big help to space out the crowd to a manageable horde. A person from the estate sale company will open the doors at the stated time, permit the first 10 or so names on the list to enter, and then shut everyone else out for the time being. 5 or 10 minutes later, after the initial group have thinned out through the house, they’ll invite the next batch of people in. This will continue until the first 25ishy folks are in (and beginning to leave) and after that, it’s just open to the general public. I’ve been to a number of sales where I was early enough to sign up on the list, but have never actually had my name called, as I’ve never been that high up on the roster. So yeah, when I saw that I would be #36, I almost didn’t bother to write my name down at all. Almost.
At the starting time, the first 12 names (two people were absent) were called. They entered. The rest of us waited.
5 minutes went by.
10 minutes went by. One of the first people exited, empty handed. He was frustrated because the Wizards had apparently pre-sold some items, in particular whatever items he happened to be after. That’s not typical, and not cool.
15 minutes went by. The crowd was getting very restless. We began to realize that the speech a Wizard had given as the crowd had formed earlier about “not acting up like children” should have been a warning to us as to how their methods generally influence their customers’ moods.
18 minutes went by, and the second of the first batch exited, with a camera in hand. EIGHTEEN MINUTES for the Wizards to make their first sale. One of the Regulars, he was surprised to see us all still standing outside and waiting.
20 minutes in, and two more names were called to enter. Two. We had been joking amongst ourselves that the Wizards must be employing a one in/one out rule, but we didn’t think that they actually were. Without the “pressure” of other shoppers wandering through the house, it’s all too easy to take your merry old time, to pore over items, to sit back and flip through every page of a photo album. It’s okay, because the next customer won’t be allowed in until you leave. That’s all very nice for the shoppers already IN the house, but as I watched people trickle out, I was noticing how little (if anything) they were carrying with them. Obviously, this tactic is not good for the people waiting, nor is it good for the bottom line.
My mom had come with me this time, but she gave up on the waiting game and left. I multiplied my travel time by my time already invested and decided to stick around a bit longer.
We waited. One fellow wait-er took out his notepad to record the company name so he would know to avoid them in the future, and saw that he already had them written down. Oops! Upon hearing this, one of the Regulars said that she’d avoided Wizard sales for a year, but was giving them another chance. She didn’t think she’d be back again.
It took SEVENTY-FIVE minutes to get to #36 on the list, and if you factor in how many people had already left out of frustration, I was probably only the 25th actual shopper. I zipped in and tried as quickly as possible to locate the blue dress I’d spotted in the preview photos, but I couldn’t find it. A black dress I’d seen in the photos was still there, though, and while no individual item of clothing was marked with a price, a day-glo yellow sign said clothing (mostly of the pastel polyester pantsuit variety) was $1–$5, priced at checkout. (At checkout, the conversation went like this: Me—Can you tell me how much this is? Power Trip Wizard, indignant—I never said it was $20! Me—No, um, I’m asking how much. Power Trip Wizard—Oh, $50.)
It wasn’t until after I’d already explored the bathroom and the first bedroom that I discovered that the Wizards had not only not priced anything but the furniture, but that they also hadn’t taken the time to actually empty the cabinets or dresser drawers of their contents. I tried to go through some drawers as best as I could, but I was by now encumbered with seven shoeboxes, and there was no Hold area. Unheard of! I very much liked the jacquard towels in the bathroom, and would have bought the set if there had been two of each size, but only one of each was on the towel rack. It’s entirely possible that there were more stored in the vanity, but the cabinets are usually (always) emptied out first so I didn’t even think to look! Dang!
It didn’t take me long to scope out the rest of the sale and determine that while the lady of the house did collect shoes, she didn’t use Pyrex, or cookbooks, or sew. The pretty “Cake” tin shown above was nowhere to be found, and a set of chrome kitchen canisters (Garner Ware perhaps?) was being sold at $22…a very good price but for the fact that one section had over the years become entirely too fussy to close. I do actually USE these things, so that would be a bother.
Checking out was another fiasco. The Wizards had inexplicably chosen a cluttered back room with only one entrance/exit (through the kitchen) as their checkout area. Why not in the nearly empty living room, right by the front door so they could keep an eye on potential thieves? No idea. There was no place to form a line, and once it was my turn, there was no place to set down my merchandise while my haul was tallied up. Peon Wizard #1 had me set my items on the “cashier table” which was covered in jewelry cases, but Power Trip Wizard chastised her and had me move my items to the floor behind the table. This move involved getting both in and out of the way of numerous other customers, in addition to the cashiers themselves. While I was paying, Peon Wizard #2 tried to explain to Power Trip Wizard that the crowd outside had been keeping count of how many people were leaving and were wondering not-so-politely when anyone else would be let in. Power Trip Wizard told Peon Wizard #2 to ignore the shoppers still outside and instead make sure the house was tidy.
As I left, 90 minutes after the sale had officially started, there was still a crowd of people waiting outside. The same people who had been waiting with me earlier! Someone said that 8 people had exited the sale, with still no new shoppers allowed in. I wouldn’t be surprised if they turned into an angry mob, with rakes and torches!