We’re Diggin’ for Yard Sale Gold – Like Howard Carter in King Tut’s Tomb

Everyone dreams about finding a copy of the Declaration of Independence behind some discarded painting at a yard sale. That may not be likely to happen to you but there are still lots of “little wins” that can make you feel like you have won the lottery on any random Saturday.

images-1While most people are sleeping in on a Saturday morning – a well deserved 
slumber after a work week full of early morning routines – my husband and I head out early after carefully planning our “treasure map” from this week’s listings of estate sales and yard sales. We are giddy with anticipation of what we might find. Like hikers and runners and other adrenaline junkies – this is our rush. In another time we may have been archeologists like Howard Carter searching for a lost tomb. (Come to think of it I had an unusual fascination with all things Egyptian and King Tut in high school.) Today we are digging too – old barns, dark cellars and dusty attics – ripe for the pickin!

How do we classify something as a treasure? Something we bought for next to nothing that has a significant value.

Here are some great examples of some of our recently uncovered “artifacts”.

McCoy Pottery Bowl


Sometimes you find an item and instantly you know that you’ve hit the jackpot. Other times you experience delayed gratification when you get a piece home and do some research. That is what happened with this beautiful McCoy Pottery bowl. I picked it up at a yard sale for $1.00 and was delighted to find that it was worth $100+. Let’s just say that one lucky Etsy customer of mine was happy to give it a proper new home for a price that was just north of that amount.

Rojankovsky Artwork


Art is not something I know a lot about. I tend to shy away from buying it unless it is something I personally like or find intriguing and would be willing to display it in my home. That was the case with the long forgotten Rojankovsky portfolio I found in a stack of ephemera at an estate sale. The piece looked intriguing and something I would enjoy looking through when I got home. It was “fill a box for $5.00” so I tossed it in with my other miscellaneous items. I was basically getting it for free so “Why not?” (This is how hoarders are born BTW 😉 ) I didn’t think it was worth much but was shocked to find the portfolio was a RARE piece titled “Quand la bise fut venue” from 1929. The portfolio, featuring 6 art deco pochoir illustrations, was by Feodor Stepanovich Rojankovsky – also known as Rojan. He was a Russian émigré illustrator. He was well known both for his childrens’ book illustrations that were featured in many of the Little Golden Books. Modern art was more of his passion – the children’s illustrations paid the bills. The portfolio was a promotional brochure for the La Grande Maison de Blanc Opera House in Paris where he had an exhibit in 1929. The “free” piece was my biggest online sale to date selling for hundreds of dollars.

Reed and Barton Cocktail Shaker


We were “free styling” (I love that term from American Pickers) in Raymond, NH one day and hit a yard sale that didn’t look very promising. Tools, tools and more tools – my husband was thrilled. The only good thing about a “tool” yard sale is that most guys who sell tools have no interest in anything else and are willing to rid themselves of “girl stuff” for next to nothing. That was the case that day. I was standing by patiently while my husband decided whether he needed a “spare for his spare” of some power tool and heard the words “Reed and Barton” uttered by another tool hunter reading the bottom of an exquisite cocktail shaker. It didn’t run on batteries so he decided it wasn’t for him. I made a Ninja move toward the cocktail shaker and paid the man the $1.00 he was asking. That was the day I decided that “tool” yard sales weren’t so bad. I sold the cocktail shaker for 100 times my $1.00 investment – better than the stock market any day!

Mid Century “Atomic” Pulley Lamp


Mid century anything is hot right now. I love it and try to incorporate some key pieces into the eclectic/garage sale/estate sale vibe I have going on at home. Some things just don’t seem to fit in no matter how much I’d like to keep them. This pulley lamp that I bought at a church yard sale was screaming “take me home” when I found her. My husband thought I was crazy but I assured him I would not be the only one to admire her. I was quickly proved right when the “likes” starting racking up and the sale was added to my “top ten sales on Etsy” list.

Wooden Skis  

Vintage wooden skis definitely fall under the category of one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Here in New Hampshire, one of the early U.S. playgrounds for skiing, there is never a shortage of old skis just waiting to make their way out of old barns and il_570xN.812643709_edz9basements and onto ski lodge owners’ walls. They go for big bucks online. My husband is always on the hunt for them and has sold 4 or 5 sets for 10 times what he paid for them. Sure, he had to lug them home and clean them up but the avid recycler in him is happy to find them a new home – and the money ain’t bad to boot!


Did I mention my husband is an avid recycler? Sometimes this is a bad thing (like when I can’t park in my garage from the overflow of cardboard boxes he has brought home from a construction job so he can “recycle them properly”) and sometimes it’s a good thing (like when he decided to purchase all of the metal rods he found in the basement of an estate sale only to find that one of them was a precious metal called molybdenum and was worth hundreds of dollars). The box lot of metal for $5.00 netted him 100 times that. He always heads to the basement first at estate sales hoping to replicate that glory but days like that are few and far between.

When an unlucky friend makes the mistake of asking us about our outings they typically have to listen to us go on and on about our latest exploits. They invariably will say, “Call me next time you are going.” I warn them…like a man with a metal detector on the beach you have to do a lot of hunting to find treasure….and more often than not you come up empty. If you don’t like the hunt then sleep in on Saturday. Besides, you can always find some of the cool things we’ve tracked down waiting for you on our Etsy page at Lizzie Tish Vintage and Classic Camping.

What are some of your greatest finds? We’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below.


“Estate Sales 101” – Finding and Negotiating the Best Deals

In my last post I shared some of my go to apps and websites for finding estate sales in your area. In this post I’ll share some of my strategies for finding and negotiating the best deal once your there.

If the sale looks like it’s going to be a “honey hole” then people just like you are scoping it out too! Get there early. More often than not only a limited amount of people will be allowed in at a time and numbers will be handed out. You want to be number 1-10 so you can walk in the door and get the hottest items. If the sale starts on Friday then you should be there if you have your heart set on something. Go on the last day of the sale for the best deals but don’t be surprised if there is not much left.


If you have a friend bring them along and tell them “see you later” as soon as you get in the door. It doesn’t make sense for you to stay together and look at the same items. Divide and conquer! Each of you should go in different directions and be on the hunt for the best items. Make a game plan before you go and decide what you are looking for. I always send my husband to the basement and he is as happy as a clam!


Move through the space quickly and make a pile of all of the items you are considering. If you pass an item by there is a good chance someone else will pick it up. If you snooze you loose! Typically the people running the sale will hold items while you shop. After you have looked at everything in the house go through your pile and decide what you actually want to buy.

Tip #4 – BUNDLE

Now that you have your pile, try to negotiate a lot price for everything you want. Typically when you are buying a large number of items you are able to get a better deal than pricing items individually.


Don’t be shy! Dealers are used to negotiating. They will be surprised if you don’t make a lower offer. The worst thing that can happen is they say the price is firm. Nine times out of ten I am able to negotiate a better deal.

Most of all have fun. It is a treasure hunt after all!

Can’t wait to shop at your next estate sale? Visit Lizzie Tish Vintage for over 250 great vintage finds.

“Estate Sales 101” – Tips for Newbies

imagesSo you want to start attending estate sales and hunt for bargains? In my next series of blog posts I will discuss strategies for finding the best sales, how to negotiate the best bargain and when you should attend.

Here is the question I am most commonly asked.

How do you find out about estate sales?

There a a lot of ways to find out about the next great estate sale. Here are a few of my “go to” resources to keep up to date.

Both www.estatesale.com and www.estatesales.org  will allow you to search by zip code within a set mileage radius. They feature listings primarily from estate liquidation businesses that pay a fee to have their sale promoted on the site. Because of this, you typically find well run sales and lots of photos of what you can expect to see at the sale so if you have multiple sales to choose from you can plan in advance on what you will hit first.

Craigslist is also be a good resource but I prefer an aggregator app like Yard Sale Treasure Map that will pull estate sales and yard sale listings from a variety of media and aggregate them into one convenient location. You can search by radius and select the day of the week that you are going to go and the listings will be at your fingertips in an easy to navigate map! Just click on the pin and you can get directions to the event in Google maps. Thinking of hitting a number of estate sales or yard sales? Select the ones you are interested in and the app can create a route for you to follow. What a great tool!

Look for my next post on Estate Sales 101  – “How to Negotiate the Best Estate Sale Bargain”

Can’t wait to start shopping? Visit Lizzie Tish Vintage and I’ll share some of my finds with you!

5 Must Visit Group Shops in Northern New England


I never met a group antique shop I didn’t like – tons of treasures all under 1 roof. I have been to group shops all over New England as I am a lifelong treasure hunter. Here are a few of my favorites that are not to be missed!

#1 – Laconia Antique Center – Laconia, NH  www.thelaconiaantiquecenter.com

UnknownWho couldn’t love a group shop that is an an old department store building that still has a working lunch counter? The Laconia Antique Center is located in a former Newberry’s Department Store built in the 1950’s. You can enjoy breakfast or lunch or have an ice cream at the counter while listening to the jukebox. There is no better way to set the mood for a day of antiquing with over 150 dealers in 22,000 (yes 22,000!) square feet.

 #2 – A Well Kept Secret – Kingston, NH www.awellkeptsecretantiques.com
UnknownThis place is close to my heart and close to my home so I am a frequent flyer! In addition to over 90 dealers this place knows how to treat their customers. Lots of sales and more often than not there are home baked goodies out on the counter. There is an interesting mix of antiques, vintage and “grandma’s attic” type goods. Hard to classify everything as antique here. If you are looking for a stuffy, highbrow shop this won’t be your cup of tea! They recently turned one of their floors into a space for handcrafted items which disappointed me but I’ll still be visiting – if not for the vintage items it will be for the cookies!

#3 – Vintage View Antiques – Haverhill, MA  www.facebook.com/VintageViewInc

11796330_733333476813196_3277750805166583740_nThis shop is fairly new but it is growing quickly. Honestly, I am drawn to any antique store that is in an old brick mill building – I just can’t resist! I grew up in a mill city and I’m oddly comforted when I’m surrounded by old brick walls – go figure!

The proprietor is lovely and always helpful. I love when they have an occasional outdoor flea market as it is a great opportunity to snag some bargains. Their storefront is also quirky and always evolving – just like me!

#4 – Canal Street Antique Mall – Lawrence, MA https://www.facebook.com/pages/Canal-Street-Antique-Mall

11894662_10153692431144101_7224492136430597100_oYeah, I know, another mill building… but in the Merrimack Valley in Massachusetts it doesn’t get any better than this place! Over 50 dealers in 18,000 sq. feet of glorious mill space. Free appraisals on Wednesdays. Unlike a lot of other group shops, this place has a good amount of furniture too. Like industrial? You can usually find a good amount of this trendy look. This shop in located in my hometown  – a mill city on the Merrimack River. I’m always on the hunt for Lawrence memorabilia and this place never fails to satisfy.

#5 – Mill 77 Trading Company – Amesbury, MA www.mill77.com

183188_165704436814643_2275505_n Mill 77 is a fun mix of antiques, vintage and upcycled decor. Several things about this shop make it qualify for my top 5 list:

Epic Yard Sales – Several times a year they host yard sales in their parking lot and rent table space for only $20 bucks! You’ll find lots of part-time pickers who are looking to unload their treasures at a bargain price!

Branding – I appreciate good branding and marketing and Mill 77 does a good job promoting the shop and keeping customers informed.

Free Popcorn and Coffee – The popcorn keep my daughter happy while we shop and the coffee keeps me alert so I am sure to spot a bargain!

I spend lots of time hunting! What do I do with all of these treasures? Share them with you of course at Lizzie Tish Vintage!