Who Shops at Estate Sales?

In any given week, Arkansas ACLU President Rita Sklar and her husband, Lee Beverly, are likely to visit two or three estate sales, some of them more than once as the prices get discounted.

Now that the weather is cooler, you might run into Rosi Smith, director of government relations for Arkansas Children's Hospital, at an estate sale, too.

What are they looking for?

"You never know what kind of find you'll come across," Smith said. "Books lately, pottery always. When I first moved into my house, I was looking for furniture for the house. But now, just little things."

The idea of paying retail for a flower pot? "It's offensive," Smith declares. 

"Could be anything," Sklar said. "Something beautiful and unique. A bargain. Or it could be something ordinary. Right now I'm looking for a good iron rake, and if I can get one for $2 rather than $20, that would be great."

When Sklar and Beverly married two years ago, he hired Saugey's Antiques to conduct an estate sale at his former home. Then they bought a new house together and started over.

"So we had a lot of fun furnishing the house with estate sale things," said Beverly, project manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers who has been shopping estate sales and garage sales for "probably 30 years on and off."

"We were looking for furniture and art, things to hang on the walls, when we first bought our house," he said. "But now we've pretty much filled the rooms. But if I see something that jumps out at me, we'll buy it and then sell whatever it replaces."

Anna Harper, who owns Anna's Estate Sales, says estate sale regulars "do it for entertainment. You sure can't go to Dillard's or Kohl's and shop all day on $100."

That's exactly what brings Beverly out every weekend.

"Some people buy lottery tickets for entertainment. I don't buy any lottery tickets, but I certainly go out on Saturday mornings and look for that Picasso," he said.

"My goal is to have a great estate sale. That's what I tell Rita: Just think how great our estate sale will be."