As I've mentioned multiple times in the past, I have a sort of occasional hobby of shopping at estate sales. I get email updates from estatesales.net about sales within a five-mile radius of my home, and I go to maybe 10% of them.
I also set my account to send me email updates whenever there is a sale within a 100-mile radius that features Fiesta dinnerware. Again, about nine times out of ten I don't go to the Fiesta sales, because they're too far away to drive for a sale that has, like, one or two pieces of Fiestaware.
But then last week I received an email about a sale, and the sale's website featured this picture:
O ... M ... G.
Now, I have been after the lilac color for awhile now. And I've been jonesing for the pink ever since, in an event that will live in infamy, I broke my only pink plate last summer and a piece of it got lodged in Bill's foot and he had to have it removed at urgent care. I know! Can you believe it? I broke my only pink plate! And that color, officially known as rose, is discontinued.
I've made some very casual bids for both lilac and rose plates on ebay, casual meaning that I wasn't fully committed to the purchase and therefore didn't try all that hard to win the auction. Why? Because shipping for those plates on ebay is usually like $20 per plate, and that adds a lot to the cost.
So when I had the opportunity to go to go and buy discontinued Fiestaware from an actual sale, I had to go. Yes, I understand that driving a total of 2.5 hours (round trip) is its own form of a shipping and handling cost, because I used a quarter-tank of gas (approx. $11) and a full four hours of my time, when I should have technically been working.
But ... I really just felt like I needed to go and do something just for myself. Life has been so crazy lately with the triathlon training, the freelance work, the t-ball, and the community theater. And I understand that those are all things I do for myself technically. But they're all what my friend Dana referred to recently as self-actualizing, which I think is an excellent term to distinguish these endeavors from activities that you do purely for fun. I needed something to do purely for fun. (Do I sound spoiled? I feel like I sound spoiled.)
So I rearranged the rest of my obligations so I'd be free to go to the sale Friday. And now I'm going to write a blog post about it.
Now, I had intended to write a blog post about this experience from the get-go. And then I had a brief thought that Nobody cares about your damn estate sale experience. But then I thought about the recent popularity of TV shows about people who go and find secondhand gems at auctions or pawn shops. Just off the top of my head and a brief Google search, I found American Pickers, Pawn Stars, Sold! Cajun Pawn Stars (umm, yeah), Storage Wars, Hardcore Pawn, Pawn Queens, and Oddities.
Apparently people like shows about secondhand purchase and resale.
Not that my efforts to purchase discontinued colors of mid-priced pottery really equal the excitement of finding the gun that John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln with, or whatever exciting things they find on those shows.
I set out for the sale at 8:00 in the morning, figuring that was ample time to get there for the 9:30 number distribution. True rugged adventurer that I am, I began by setting my GPS:
I guess I technically left at 8:08.
The sale was cash-only, so I had to make a stop at the ATM. Which, I apparently had to photograph so you could get the whole story here. There was a security officer stationed outside the ATM, and I wondered if photographing an ATM sets off any sort of mental alarm bells for a security officer. I planned to tell him I have a blog as my explanation if questioned. But really, at this point in the world, people take all kinds of pointless pictures to share with their friends, so photographing an ATM probably isn't all that out-of-the-ordinary.
Then, there was traffic. I was so bored that I apparently had to take this photograph (while driving, though technically while stopped) of the world's most pointless waste of fuel:
I live too far away to be getting there at 6:00 a.m., so I ended up being #24:
I considered it lucky because it was written on the back of a playing card, the 8 of hearts. Hearts are my favorite suit, and 8 is my favorite number. Though really, I probably could have found a way to justify a number of playing cards as lucky. The ace of spades, for example.
Now, the number distribution is serious business. If you put your name on the paper but you aren't physically present for the number distribution, you lose your spot. If you plead that you were sitting in your car the whole time, the woman distributing the numbers says, That's not my problem. If you then ask to take another no-show's spot, you can go in, but your husband can't, and the number distributor will physically block him. I heard from another estate sale regular that the number distributor's day job is as a Chicago police officer.
During the half-hour wait between the number distribution and the doors opening, I chatted with the other people. What do you collect? I would ask them, partially in the name of being friendly, but mostly to size up the competition. Oddly, many people said they didn't specifically collect anything, they just liked to go to estate sales, which seemed like an odd reason to get up at 5:00 a.m., and also well on the path to Hoarders. A number of people were there for the large collection of designer purses, and #1 on the list was after a bicycle. Good, no Fiesta enthusiasts.
Finally the doors opened, and numbers 1 through 20 were let in. After #20 I guess the house was filled to capacity, so each subsequent number was only let in when somebody left. That was tense.
After not too long, though, my number was called, and I made a beeline for the kitchen. Pretty much the entire Fiesta collection was still there, with the exception of two large serving bowls and the one Fiesta plate imprinted with Daffy Duck (which I did not want, and kind of makes me sad for humanity).
It really didn't matter, though, because there was enough Fiestaware to share, assuming you weren't a total douchebag who took the entire gigantic lot. I even offered a woman passing by a crack at whatever she wanted, but she said she wasn't after Fiesta.
And OMG, you guys, the prices on these things. It was $3 for a dinner plate, $2 for a salad plate, and $2.50 for a bowl. Not even close to the astounding prices some of these discontinued pieces go for on ebay.
Behold, my haul:
22 plates, 8 bowls, $86 total
I liked how they looked in my dishwasher, too:
The rose family reunion:
On the left is the one little rose salad plate I already had. We never told Little Salad about the fate that befell Big Dinner. We just told him Big Dinner went to live in the kitchen of a nice farm. But now Little Salad is joined by 8 new dinner plates!
I have so many plates now that I have to rotate different color palates seasonally, while the out-of-season palates sit in the basement. Really, isn't a variety of seasonally-appropriate plates all anybody wants in this world?
For those who (gasp!) care about other things besides ceramic pottery, I will share with you my three other finds at the sale:
A random lavender purse, an $8 pink Coach wallet, and a KitchenAid skillet
It turned out that this sale featured a lot of unused designer purses, wallets, jewelry, and keychains. And I should point out that this was actually a moving sale, not an estate sale, which means that the owners of all these items are still living and would technically have use for brand-new designer accessories. These expensive items were just the woman's castoffs. I mean, I have always considered myself incredibly fortunate, but I still can't even fathom being in a financial situation where you can afford several designer handbags that you never even use. And if you are in such a financial situation, is the affordably-priced Fiesta dinnerware just like paper plates to you?
Sorry we're using absolutely gauche disposable dinnerware, Muffy, but the maid insists upon taking one night off a month.
Do you like I how automatically peg these people as obnoxious snobs? But I mean really, that's the only explanation I can think of for the wastefulness of having that many unused designer goods. Either that or they're kleptomaniacs who stole all this stuff.
No really, I'm sure the owners of this home are incredibly nice, generous people who share their ample wealth equally with charities and the handbag department at Nordstrom. And I do appreciate these strangers, for without their excessive overspending, I would not have scored such awesome deals yesterday.
And so, in conclusion, it seems that in the completely inconsequential, non-life-and-death world of estate sales, you win some and you lose some. And when you win some, it's kind of awesome.