We all know bugs are important to our ecosystem. #savethebees
But did you know bugs can help you get good deals at estate sales?
I had been looking for an antique spool cabinet for FOREVER. Okay, it was more like 3 months, but it felt like a really long time to not have a spool cabinet in my life. My aunt had a beautiful one and got the itch after visiting her. I had the perfect corner in my living room for it and it needed to be filled.
While my desire to find the spool cabinet could not be denied, my budget was holding me back. If you estate sale regularly, you know the first day of the sale is full price and then the prices go down the second day - usually 25% to 50% off. Because of this, I have a really hard time paying full price for anything (I have the same problem at Kohls). But, there are some things that will just never be there on day two if you don’t make a move and buy at full price on day one. This is exactly what happened with the first spool cabinet I found. Another one was listed and I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity again.
I ran to the sale over my lunch break on day one and saw it in all its glory. The labels on the drawers were in perfect shape. As a bonus, this one came with a bottom cabinet. Most of the ones I had seen would need to either have legs added or a cabinet built to set it on. Because of this, I was willing to pay a bit more, but still not full price.
The cabinet was in the front room of the sale with several people around it, so I didn’t want to run over and look too interested. BONUS TIP: You never want to look super interested in a piece if anyone else is around it. This can spark a phenomenon called the competitive compulsive buy (CCB). This is where someone that is casually looking at a piece suddenly has to have it because they don’t want to risk losing it. I’ve been on both sides of this - it is real. Back to the story - I did a lap through the dining room and kitchen and came back to the front room to get a better look once the area had cleared.
I opened the first drawer to check the function. Imagine my surprise when I realized the drawer that had once been filled with spools of thread was now filled with dead bugs. I don’t mean a few dead flies that a shop vac could easily take care of. No, it was a full-on entomology collection. I opened the drawer below - this one had a wide variety of beetles pinned to the styrofoam board that had been custom fit to the drawer. The next one contained more delicate bugs; which had lost their wings, but it looked like most were still in the drawer, just no longer attached to the bugs (GROSS). I’m sure you can spot the trend. Every drawer housed another part of the entomology collection.
I love collections. I love weird things. I love collections of weird things. I do not love dead bugs and I did not want to own an entomology collection. Despite this, I stayed focused because these bugs were actually a good thing that could make my antique spool cabinet dreams a reality. The bugs could easily be removed, but they would definitely scare off some buyers.
I walked out empty handed, but I put in a bid slightly over half price. I knew I couldn’t come until later in the morning the next day and I was banking that other potential buyers thought the same and would come the next day to snag it half price. Sure enough, I got the call after the sale had closed for the day that I had won the antique spool cabinet entomology collection!
I will admit the bug clean out was more intense than I predicted. The bug boards had been in there for a LONG time and getting them out in one piece wasn’t easy. Why one piece you ask? Well, because there was no way I could bring myself to throw away years and years of work. Someone had taken the time and effort to pin these bugs with the handwritten date and location. I wasn’t going to destroy that. My college roommate is a science teacher and took them off my hands.
Moral of the story - sometimes bugs are a good thing. You just have to be able to look past the gross and icky stuff to get a deal. Best of luck finding your spool cabinet (or whatever awesome antique you have your heart set on)!
4 thoughts on “Sometimes bugs are a good thing at estate sales”
I love your spool cabinet. I wanted one FOREVER. My friend spotted one at an estate sale. I rushed to see it. ???But soooooo expensive. I left a half price offer never dreaming I would get it. But guess what? I didn’t get it. Kidding, I got it. And they even delivered it. Happy daze!
Yes! I love to hear that another spool cabinet dream came true! (and at a discount too)
OMG, you are hilarious! But smart advice, for sure! Sage Scott, the Everyday Wanderer
“Full-on entomology collection!” I love it!
This really is a great story to tell – I can just see you being cagey about not being excited about the spool cabinet!
But the fact that you PRESERVED the bug collection! Well, kudos to you and science!
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