If you think TikTok is all young people recreating dance moves and sharing political espionage tips, well—you might be over 30 years old, but you’re not wrong. Still, amid the makeup videos and parent pranks, there lurks a surprising type of content for the aesthete: specifically, young people discovering, and then frequenting, estate sales.
“My friend Gab is a huge thrifter. She always tries to find the best deals,” says Jaycee of @jayceesage, who lives on Long Island. “We saw one or two Tiktoks about [estate sales], and we googled and researched. Some were in our area that looked good, so we went and I thought it was a cool experience and I video-taped the whole thing.”
The resulting clip finds Jaycee and Gab delighting over a carousal horse, old record players, and loads of pastel kitchenware. While her videos typically average around 2k views, this one has been watched over 91,000 times to date. The hashtag #estatesales itself has 12 million views, meaning Jaycee and Gab aren’t the only ones in on the action.
Several of the most popular estate sale videos are by TikTokers branching out from their usual in thrift-store, DIY, or vintage content. Take Macy Eleni at @blazedandglazed in southern California. “I moved into a new apartment in L.A. during the first weekend that lockdown began,” she says. “So that's actually how I started going to estate sales and making those kinds of videos—it was on this path to secondhand-furnish my new place.”
Macy posted her first estate sale video in late summer, and “It very quickly went to a million views in one day,” she says. “I think it was just something cool that a lot of younger people had never been exposed to and didn't even know existed.” Virality aside, Macy just really enjoyed attending the sale and “was hooked” on the whole experience. Now, she frequently researches and attends new sales. “I can usually tell if it's a vibe that fits my look that I'm going for in my home,” says the full-time content creator, who calls her style an “‘80s sexy dad aesthetic.” “Or if it's a house that isn't specifically my vibe—but I think that it'll be a really cool house for my audience that lives in the middle of the country—I'll go just to film it.”
Her subsequent videos in Beverly Hills and Hollywood have been so insanely popular that she may be singlehandedly transforming the demographics of estate sales in the region. “From lots of conversations I've had, the companies that run them [are] like, ‘We've never seen a turnout of such young people that are like finding your videos in L.A. and coming to a estate sales,’” Macy says.
While going to an estate sale is an old-fashioned weekend activity, it is also a business venture aided greatly by the internet, especially during a pandemic. Rebekka Blue of @rebekkablue posted about her experience at an estate-sale auction in North Carolina—“I put on my little business pants, some heels, because I envisioned it would be one of those fancy auctions you see in the movies where people are calling in on the phone,” she says—and then flipped her purchase, a 1920s vanity, for hundreds of dollars on Craigslist. She and the other young people House Beautiful spoke with also rely on apps or sites like Yard Sale Treasure Map or EstateSales.net to find new sales, whether they’re happening in person or virtually.
Their advice for other young people who want to check out estate sales is to do your research, bring cash, and arrive early. And keep your expectations low. “My biggest tip, and I say this to all my friends that haven't even started yet, is that TikTok and influencers definitely romanticized the whole experience,” Jaycee says. “If you find something, great. If not, you had an experience.”
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