As Emil Knodell was loading his newly purchased dresser onto his truck, it began clinking and clattering like a slot machine. “It sounded like a metallic waterfall,” he told NBC News. “It was like the Hardy Boys. Jackpot!” After all, he had bought the antique for less than $100 — and was about to discover that its contents were absolutely staggering.
Emil Knodell, a retired marketing director who lives in Bellville, Texas, bought the dresser at a Premier Estate Sales Network event in Missouri City. “I always come to a sale with an open mind because you never know,” Knodell told Click 2 Houston. “It’s always good to come at the half-price time because then the big fun starts.”
The purpose of an estate sale is to rapidly wind up a household’s assets and materials, usually after a death. And since the emphasis is on speed and efficiency in this process, items are sometimes overlooked or significantly undervalued. Because of this, bargains are common at such sales — but phenomenal finds are rare.
The thrill of the chase
So while professional estate sales companies usually know their stuff, entrepreneurs and antique collectors regularly scour estate sales for hidden treasures. This is especially so since the thrill of the chase is often just as rich as the rewards. Just think of all the reality TV shows that follow this exact premise!
But if you're thinking of getting involved, you might have more luck at an unassuming yard sale. Here, valuable items are sometimes wrongly assumed to be junk. For example, in 2007 one New York household sold a Ming dynasty vase at a yard sale for just $3. The family who bought it then sold it on for $2.2 million. Of course, this raises an ethical quandary.