An occasionally updated chronicle of estate sales in the city and suburbs of Chicago.

"It's such a guilty pleasure..." Lynne Stiefel, Pioneer Press


Saturday, February 27, 2010

We've Made a Run for the Border

Because Chicago winters are long and cold and have a knack for sapping the spirit, we've generously given the staff at Estate Sale Stories World HQ the week off for a fabulous Mexico vacation.

Does that mean we're leaving you, our faithful readers, out in the cold? No way, Jose. Join us for a look back at some of our favorite posts from the past that we're calling "ESS Greatest Hits," for want of a better name.

We'll be back tanned, rested and with all-new Estate Sale Stories on Monday, March 8. Adios!

Friday, February 26, 2010

An Assortment in Addison

To quote the friend who accompanied me on this day, "Addison is a place that suffers from poor zoning." It's true. Strip malls abut playgrounds, factories sit across the street from private homes. There's a little bit of everything here, and it's all smooshed together.

Kind of like this place.

Every time I see this photo all I can think of is those chickens pecking at the crumbs that fell from the table of The Last Supper.

Possibly the most awkward-looking bathroom I've ever seen. That's a stackable washer/dryer in the back with its ass hanging out.

I don't know who lived here, but I bet she was a master of disguise.

No, I didn't buy it. Yes, I am a fool.

With all those signs to read as you're going down the stairs, it's a wonder there's not a pile of bodies at the bottom of them.

This velvet painting celebrates the athleticism and majesty of one of Spain's greatest sport: killing animals for show.

Nothing brightens up a dreary basement bedroom like leopard print.

The more, the better.

Found on the refrigerator.

I wonder whose mattress this was found under? Also, I don't like to boast, but I got this $6 value for just a quarter. (And for the record, it is filthy.)

I think I read this one when it was published under its original title, I Kissed a Whore.

Purchased: Two Novels of Lust, $.25.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Niles 1950-1970s Three-Flat

It wasn't that long ago we were last in Niles, but it's never too early to return to this north-side suburb where the fifties, sixties and seventies still live.

This sign isn't the only thing about this post that's haff-assed. I had a smudge on my camera lens that you're sure to notice as we go along.

Oh, my.

You don't see these big console hi-fis so much any more, but this one was a fantastic specimen.

This must have been top-of-the-line once upon a time. Solid state, AM/FM/FM stereo (I thought FM was always stereo), phono console and an 8-track tape player/recorder (I didn't even know you could record on 8-tracks). I love that they still had the owner's manual for this baby, some 30-40 years later, and that it came from Montgomery Ward.

After this was delivered, I'm sure someone complained about how complicated it was. "I just want to listen to Paul Harvey in the morning before work. What do I need with all those dials and controls?"

"It's easy, ma. You just pop in one of these 8-tracks and that's it."

"Unless Paul Harvey is on those '8-tracks' I could care less. Just show me how to turn on the radio."

In the kitchen I found this built-in clock, which is quite a beauty. I'd never seen one before, but a few weeks later I saw another one at a sale in Westchester.

This was the extent of the liquor cabinet.

Which explained why this E-Z Read Jigger was still in its packaging.

Just as I was about to leave I saw a display case with some old photos in it. I usually don't bother with this sort of thing, but these -- for obvious reasons -- caught my eye. Let's take a closer look.

What is it about gas masks -- especially the WWI-era versions -- that's so creepy?

The clothes, the pose, that room, those glassy eyes staring straight into the camera... this picture is going to give me nightmares.

Thanks, grandfather!

Purchased: E-Z Read Jigger, $.50.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Rare River North Condominium

It's not every weekend that a downtown Chicago high-rise hosts an estate sale. So it was imperative -- parking problems and all -- that I see this one.

I blame '70s-era sit-coms for the belief that high-rise apartments are spacious, and that each one comes with a live studio audience and laugh-track.

The reality is usually much more cramped and down-to-earth, regardless of how many floors up you might find yourself.

This walk-in closet, for example, was probably one of the larger rooms in the place.

These were found close by, and made me pause for just a moment. St. Patrick's Day is coming up, after all.

It looks like a whole bunch of junk just decided to curl up on this futon and take a nap.

This collection of books was stacked nearby on the floor. Usually you can tell a lot about a person just by looking at their books, but these didn't really say much to me.

This one, however, kind of spoke volumes.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Maywood Warehouse

They called this an estate sale, but I think that's because they knew estate sales have become popular and they were hoping to lure in unsuspecting shoppers, like me.

For this reason, I almost didn't go in.

But it was way down on the South Side, and I'd already driven there, so I figured, why not? It was a once-in-a-lifetime chance, right? Who knew what I might find?

It was one of the more unusual places I've ever been in.

There were antiques and old furniture everywhere.

Only not all of them were for sale.

The sale itself was way back in the back, in this series of rooms filled with all kinds of stuff.

They had your wooden chair needs covered.

There was some really nice old stuff.

And some not-so-nice, not-so-old stuff.

Also, many naked-lady pictures, all of them painted by the same artist.

The first time I saw one of these I thought I'd lucked onto something really rare and valuable. Turns out you can find them just about everywhere.

This qualified as my "bizarro find" of the day. I'm not sure what it is. All I know is that if I hadn't ventured in here, you and I never would have seen it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Des Plaines General Store

This was another of those estate sales with a line to wait in, which is something I usually don't do. But the last one was so successful I figured that, maybe, this one would be something out of the ordinary, too.

This was a room full of women's shoes. The story goes that the man who used to live here had always wanted to open a store.

He embarked upon this dream -- which is in no way outrageous or mock-worthy -- by collecting lots of merchandise from here and there.

Some of it -- like the women's shoes -- was new. Some, not-so.

Apparently, he'd stocked the house with it.

And the garage. Those are sleeping bags up there on the top shelf. Dozens of them.

I'm not sure exactly what sort of store it was going to be.

There was a lot of hardware.

Including this bin of assorted hammers.

And handsaws.

There were a lot of antiques, too.

The kind of things I hadn't seen since the last time I watched Brazil.

The only problem was, he never actually opened the store.

But here's the irony: in a way, his dream kind of came true. Only he wasn't there to see it.
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