Old people have the coolest stuff. Do you feel too rude about asking them to leave shit to you when they "go"? That's why I love estate sales; you get to rummage through all their old smelly stuff and not give a damn. Here a few tricks of the trade:
1. Arrive EARLY
Get there even before it starts, like 10-30 minutes before, depending on how bad you want particular items.
2. Sign In
Most estate sales will have a list where you can sign your name when you first arrive. You enter on a first-come, first-served basis. Frequently, they will only let 5-10 people in at a time, which sucks if you're late. Cuz they're getting all the good stuff!!!!!!!!
3. TAKE IT
See something you like or are just semi-interested? Pick it up (if you can) and carry it with you. People are ruthless at these things. You can decide to buy it later.
If an item has no price, ask yourself what the most you will spend on it would be. Then, take the item to the estate sale host and ask what the price is. This will give you a starting point for negotiating with the host.
Estate sales typically run for a few days. I recommend going the first day if you want the best stuff. Traditionally, estate sales are half-off on the last day. I have noticed recently at sales though that they are not reducing so low. THE BEST TOOL is www.estatesales.net. Subscribe to get info about sales going on near you sent directly to your email. You can see pics of everything before you get there!
Here are a couple things I've bought recently:
1. Two chairs for $15/each (reupholstered after purchase) + Peace flag for $10
2. Glass jars for $1/each + white ceramic hand for $3
3. Two vintage Champagne glasses + Sound of Music record for $3
4. Orange metal folding chair for $20 (which was a little too much, but I love it a lot)
5. Tins for $3
6. Mid-century lamps for $30/each
go and have a great day or something ;)