Most of us buy from all kind of stores to satisfy our needs and wants – retail, hardware, clothing, accessories, furniture, jewelry, etc. Ever-so-often we come across a family or individuals or groups of unrelated people who live together, who have decided to try another lifestyle and live one step under the radar.
They do this through buying food from a commercial store and everything else from estate sales, garage sales, driveway sales, house sales, etc.
We have had many talks with people who think of this from time to time as they pay exorbitant amounts of money for things they want. We also hear this from people doing wishful thinking when they see something they want, but can’t afford.
Well, this column, written by different people as they experience the ‘estate sale lifestyle’ fully, will tell you the stories of those who live via shopping only at these sales. For some, they even step into buying food at estate sales. They can only buy food that is sealed and have to supplement what they buy via going shopping at grocery and other food stores, but they stick rigidly to not buying anything else except at the sales which happen across the country.
We will attempt to give you a peek into how they manage this and you can decide if this is how you want to live. It is recycle on steroids.
Meet the Smith Family. Mother – Mary Smith. Father – John Smith. Daughter – Dorian Smith. Son – Jackson Smith. Mother, Father and two children with a van, living in a White House with black trim surrounded by a white picket fence. The beginning story of the American dream.
The Smith’s however, are not who they appear to be. We met them at the last estate sale we went to. The family in that particular house was selling everything. The mother died recently. She had been living in a nursing home for about two months before she died and now her house and everything in it was for sale. Her children – now grown – didn’t want to keep anything. (This is the kind of sale we really love). They didn’t think much of their parents taste. Wanted everything “new” and were going to get their wishes fulfilled when the house and its contents were sold.
We felt so sorry for the woman who died and especially for her children. She had some lovely things which would cost a small fortune if purchased from retail stores, but were being sold for a fraction of their “when purchased” price. She also had furnishings which would only escalate in value over the years. We have met many people who talked about – “oh look, Mama had that and wow look at the price. We sold it for a fraction of that when she died – we had no idea.” We sent up a prayer for the woman and her children. The woman who thought she was leaving a beautifully furnished house for her children to take over and continue to improve and live in graciously, and we prayed for her children who couldn’t wait to get rid of all that ‘stuff’ .
The Smith family showed up near the end of the sale and were very excited about what they found. They have three fireplaces in their white home with black trim surrounded by its white picket fence. One thing they were looking for was wood for the fireplaces. They had been looking for a couple months and wondered if this wasn’t something they would not find and today, here they were beyond their greatest dream with this huge store of oak in front of them.
Before this ‘great find’ they had not used their fireplaces because the cost per fire was too much given their small income and the relatively high cost of fireplace wood. At the house where we met they had just purchased a ton of wood – cut – dried – stacked on the side of the house and they paid $25 for all of it.
They were in the process of taking the wood home. They were filling their van and clearly would have to make two or more trips to get the wood home, but that didn’t bother them at all. They were very animated talking about how they could have a fire every night when the weather dictated that a fireplace smelling of oak would be sensational. They could toast marshmallows that they made and spend long evenings in front of a blazing fire without hurting themselves financially. Actually, they could enjoy this dream without even thinking of saving on wood or of burning just a little keeping the fires sparse and maybe only in one fireplace. The wood they were taking home would last two or three seasons.
As we talked further with the Smith family, they told us how they have been living like this for several years. They were devoted estate sale shoppers and loved the friends they made going to different houses and meeting people who are ‘estate sale people” and exchanging stories. They also loved walking through the houses to see what people had done and how they decorated – taking home as many ideas as ‘things’.
We asked if we could follow their adventures so you will be hearing more about the Smith Family. Amazingly, their daughter Dorian was the most excited about this way of life because of the clothes, games and other such things she finds which her parents would not let her buy retail, but which she can enjoy via the “sales”. Dorian is about 12 years old. Jackson is about 16.
As we paid for our purchases, it was clear the Smith Family was not nearly ready to stop shopping. We looked back on them filling their van and hoping they could made the trips home and still have time to shop. Mrs. Smith just shook her head and said it would be next weekend before they did any more buying, but that was alright because it was exciting to find something they really needed and didn’t expect to find at a price they could afford.
So, next weekend you will find us traipsing around town following the Smith Family and writing up their adventures for you to experience through Bettina Network’s Blog.
Ed. Note: Members of the Bettina Network Lifestyle Community can contribute to the Bettina Network Blog whenever they have anything they want to say and be heard by this fantastic group of people. Send your blog to email@example.com or mail it to us at P. O. Box 380585 Cambridge, MA. 02238 or call us on the telephone at 617-497-9166 to tell us what you want to say and we will write it for you. Please also tell us if you want your name as your byline or if you want your article to appear without your name.
Volunteer with Bettina Network Foundation, inc. to work estate sales; to help move items from one home to another; to contribute your ideas on how we can better use our resources in this effort to relieve and eliminate homelessness and poverty. We also need photographers; designers; and more. However much or little time you have, we are grateful.
Send your event information to be included in Bettina Network’s Menu of Events to: firstname.lastname@example.org