We are the Crazy People
We woke up really early today. Let me explain.
Earlier this week, Liz spotted an estate sale that had a particular stove listed. According to her, it seems rare for estate sales to happen in the winter – and she’s been more prone to keep tabs on estate sales during the spring/summer (when they seem to be more common).
In addition to the fact that this one was happening in January, it was also listed as a “demo” sale. Your regular run of the mill estate sales tend to be about smaller items – vases, tables, chairs, that kind of thing. For a Demo sale, it seems that the items available begin to include more structural things: the floors, the windows, cabinets, and so forth.
I was able to call mid-week, and learned what the price on the stove was going to be. I was hoping to try buy the stove before the sale, but the organizers were adamant that no sales would take place prior to the event. Suffice it to say that the stove was going for more than 50% off retail.
It’s generally not a good idea to go to an estate sale with just one item in mind. Someone else might want the same thing, and it all depends on who gets to the item first. Unless you can be absolutely sure you’re first in line, there’s a chance you won’t get the item. That’s just the nature of estate sales.
Also – a general rule is that the first person to arrive will create their own “Sign-In Sheet,” to indicate an order of who showed up. Generally, the organizers will respect this list (but it’s not a guarantee).
So the big trick is: Get there first. Make a sign-up sheet. Get other buyers to add their name to the sign-up sheet. Get the organizers to honor the sign-up sheet.
If you can do all that, you can ensure you’ll be “first” in to the sale and presumably can be first to select what you want. But there are a lot of ways things can go south, and it’s not a guarantee.
On the estate sale web site, they mentioned that a sign-in sheet would be available at 8:00 AM. And folks would be permitted to enter at that time, based on the sheet. But the sale itself would begin at 9:00 AM.
Given the price of the stove, Liz and I decided we were going to take the risk of trying to “Be First” to the sale. And that meant waking up early, and putting in a 30 minute drive.
But here was the rub: how early is “early?” The price on the stove was really fantastic, half of what one would pay retail. The organizer I spoke with mentioned that some people will drive 2-3 hours to their sales. If we wanted to be first, how early is “early?” What, then, is reasonable and what is crazy?
We decided that leaving our place at 4:30 AM was pretty crazy. So that’s what we aimed to do. Last night, we prepped a lot of things (breakfast for the bunnies, laid out clothes, coffee, sign-up sheet supplies)… so that we could just wake up and go.
I got up about quarter to 4:00 AM. And apparently, when I woke up… Liz jolted awake. This led to us being ahead of schedule, and we left Hyde Park around 4:15 AM.
We arrived around 4:45 AM. There was a part of me that worried the neighbors would see these random folks staking out the property, and call the cops on us.
We walked up to the front door, and Liz taped up a sign-in sheet (with both our names in position 1 and 2).
We were paranoid about someone else showing up and starting their own list, so we also taped signs around the house indicating that the sign-up sheet was on the front door.
Note: keep in mind the footprints in the snow.
In our madness, we also walked around to the back of the house… and taped a note, indicating that the sign-in sheet was on the front door. Just in case someone tried to be sneaky, or wanted to create their own sign-in sheet at the back of the house.
For the next 45 minutes, we waited in the car… keeping an eye out on the front porch. Every time I saw headlights, I prepped myself to walk out to the front porch (figuring that I would point out the sign-in sheet and ensure anyone else signed in after us).
After a few false starts (I got out of the car a few times), it became apparent that folks were not nearly as crazy as us… and there would not be other super-early birds.
Around 6:45 AM, I decided I wanted to be physically present on the front porch. Talking with the organizers, I learned that the sign-up sheet might be available as early as 7:30 AM… so I wanted to be there and ready. Also – I had questions about whole process.
Surprisingly, at 6:50 AM, the lights inside popped on and a guy opened up the front door. He saw me, and then asked “Are you running the estate sale?” To which I replied “I’m here to participate in the sale.”
Turns out, that guy was just there to ensure the house was open for the organizers. False alarm, but I was glad to still be present for that.
Me sitting on the front porch, killing time. Liz went to go get us breakfast, but I was committed to being there in person, waiting on the front porch. If we were going to be crazy, why not be 100% crazy?
Circa 7:00 AM, and no one else is here. Which to me was mind-boggling.
Note the footsteps in the snow. That’s all me and Liz.
Around 7:15 AM, two other groups showed up. One guy (John) and a couple. Liz and I kept mum about what we were there for, but we learned that the couple was there to buy the floors. They pulled up in a pickup trip that had a pretty sizable trailer attached to it. They weren’t messing around.
Around 7:30 AM, the organizer opened up the door and brought out their official list. We were able to transfer our names over, and after that… everyone had free leave to wait in their warm cars.
Around 7:50 AM, we all gathered on the front porch and joined several other groups that had arrived. We got inside at 8:00 AM, and got to walk around the house.
Here’s the stove we woke up early to purchase. It’s a
Based on the tag, we learned that it was 4-5 years old. But based on the photos, it really didn’t seem like it had seen that much use.
One huge disconcerting thing: as Liz and I were in the kitchen, there was another group of 3 people checking things out, and also actively inspecting the stove.
Given the sign-in sheet, we would be first in and would technically have first dibs. But all throughout the morning, Liz and I were cautious about the process. We didn’t want to get our hopes up, and didn’t want to jinx anything.
My main thought was: today will an adventure and a good story. And there’s a chance that’s all it will be.
We felt confident we’d have first chance at the stove, but to see other folks actively considering it added a little stress.
Exploring the rest of the house, I took a moment for a selfie. We were in a good spot in terms of being #1 and #2 on the list. But never say never, and we weren’t willing to celebrate until we actually bought the darn thing.
We bought the darn thing.
The stove is about 350 pounds, and not something we were able (or prepared) to move today. In addition to having to disconnect it, I’m also going to have to figure out a time next week to get movers out here to transport the thing for us. Will likely have to take a day off work to figure this out.
While I think I might be able to move this on my own with a few other folks helping, I think hiring movers to do this will be money well spent.
After our purchase, we removed a few things ahead of time (the racks inside the oven, the cast iron grates, the burner heads, and the knobs).
At this point, things still felt a bit surreal… but I think we were able to revel in the fact that we actually got the item we came here for.
It’s crazy – we first came across a version of this stuff back in 2013, and it was most definitely out of our price range new.
I’m still in awe that we did what we did. Despite there not being other crazy early birds, I think our plan was still a sound one (and Liz also would do the same thing again).
One thing I’m curious about: if this sale happened in the spring/summer, would there have been more early buyers? More crazy early buyers? Would showing up at 4:45 AM have been crazy enough?