If you've read my blog, followed me on Instagram, or ever spoken to me for 3.2 seconds, you know things about me. Like, for instance, that I'm obsessed with dresses. Any beautiful dress will do, but vintage dresses in particular are my collecting drug of choice. I opened an Etsy shop to sell them this past spring, and it turns out I LOVE it. I get to buy every pretty vintage dress I see, whether or not it will fit me or if I'll ever actually have a opportunity to wear it. I can list it and have the joy of seeing someone else fall in love with it!
Since everyone knows this is my thing, it was only natural that everyone who saw the estate sale listing/FB post/whatever else about a sale in the Rochester area called The Dress Horde would immediately email me, post to my FB wall, text me, what have you. It sounded amazing. 4,000 vintage NOS dresses. FOUR THOUSAND UNWORN VINTAGE DRESSES. Heaven, right?
It sure looked it to me. Since I'd been to a ton of estate sales this summer, I knew that each company runs things a little differently. I was going to have to take a personal day, so I called to see how things were run. And was horrified by what I heard. First, they would start handing out "temporary numbers" up to 2 days in advance. Once in possession of a temporary number, you can't leave. And they were expecting people from out of state for this (and considering what I saw on Facebook about it, I wasn't surprised). It sounds like people were camping out.
And they were charging $30/dress. No doubt less than each dress is worth at full resale value, but I am not a full-time vintage shop owner. Those prices are out of my range for more than, say, 1 dress. I'm not camping out to pay $30 for a dress or two.
So I passed. It hurt a little, but once I made up my mind, I felt some relief.
My friend Sarah, the owner of the amazing Snug Bungalow, always keeps me informed of the local estate sales even though I'm back to work full-time and can't go with her on Friday mornings anymore. This week, she sent me a link to a sale with these pictures:
It was no "Dress Horde", but I thought it might be pretty good anyway. I kept looking and contemplating. It wasn't take-a-personal-day good, but it was a Thursday/Friday sale that went until 4. I get out of work at about 3:15, so I had the chance to make it there between school and open house with about 20 minutes to spare.
Make it I did. The signs were gone, the lights were out, but the company was still there and agreed to let me go up and go through the closets in the remaining moments of the sale. Moreover, they informed me that since it was "practically Friday" (and the second day of the sale is usually 50% off), that everything would be 50% off for me, even on Thursday afternoon.
I went, and was immediately in shock. There were three closets with dresses in them, and while two only had a few (but a really good few), the third (the picture directly above) was lousy with amazing vintage. I didn't have long, and it was hot. I just started grabbing. Anything that looked pretty, which was a LOT of stuff. I barely made it down the stairs with my load, and we counted the dresses. Thirty two. THIRTY. TWO.
They gave me the price and I pulled out a credit card.... at which point they looked at me blankly and informed me that they don't accept cards. Now, I went to these things all summer and I can remember maybe one that didn't accept cards. I remember scrounging (and by that, I mean literally borrowing nickels and pennies from my friends) to cover the cost of the one dress I bought at that sale. I didn't have enough nickels and pennies to cover the cost of 32 dresses this time, half off or otherwise.
Here's where it gets really crazy. I was desperate. I had no cash, and I'd run out of checks (mental note: order more checks). I offered to go to an ATM but it was clear from their faces that they were in no mood to wait for that. I came up with the only solution I could think of: Sarah was coming the next morning. Sarah could pay for me! I figured they'd want my name and number (and maybe SSN while they were at it), or they'd want me to leave my dresses until Sarah could pick them up. Nope. They turned down my offer of contact information and helped me carry the dresses to my car. Where I drove away with 32 dresses that I had not paid for.
If I was a horrible human being, I could have had those dresses for free. Especially considering that when Sarah showed up the next morning, none of the workers present had any idea what she was talking about. Eventually someone showed up who did, but man. They were almost making it hard for me to pay them!
But pay I did, and man, was it worth it. These dresses are going to take some time to clean and process, but I did one for a sample, to give you all a little taste.
50s dress, full skirt, metal zipper. Nearly flawless, now that it's been soaked and cleaned. Can you EVEN???
There was also this:
60s Dropwaist dress with amazing floral print fabric. GAH.
Earlier this summer, the dress of my dreams was a 50s halter top dress with sailboats and seagulls. It broke my heart by not fitting. This is more of a shift than a 50s-silhouette dress, but look! More sailboats and seagulls! I might just keep it for the principle of the thing.
Blue and green fishy print! Cute!!!
Another that I'm 99.99999% sure that I'm keeping for myself (assuming it fits - it's currently soaking in some Retro Clean and I'll try it on when it's dry!) The red lining! Yay vintage winter coat!!
Could this dress BE more Rosemary Clooney? I just had to put it on my dress form to see! I love the little blue hankie that's attached to the hip!
I grabbed this dress because there was a matching long jacket. I thought: Hooray! A yellow polka dotted shift dress and I already grabbed the matching coat! I got home, went through all my treasures, and nope. No jacket. I either didn't grab it at all or dropped it at some point. Fortunately, Sarah was going back (look for her matching blog post about this sale in the near future), so I asked her to look for me. Voila!
So matchy! I can't wait to reunite them!!
While I was there, I was in such a hurry/arms so weighed down that I had no time to look at anything else. I left behind a completely amazing steel drum (I'm a music teacher, don't judge me) and I didn't even have the heart to go over to the jewelry table. Fortunately, Sarah, being completely awesome, found me this:
I'm breathless over this. There's earrings to match, and yes, my friends, that's sparkly blue aurora borealis. Translated: this is the necklace and earring set known as The Necklace and Earrings Intended By Fate For Ann To Own, Wear, and Love For the Rest of Her Days. I never get as excited over jewelry as I do over dresses, and this set pulled it off. Go team!
Speaking of amazing teamwork, my college friend Amy has started doing the Instagram vintage thing about the same time that I started my Etsy shop (check her IG shop ReminisceAndDelight). She has a ridiculously adorable habit of dressing her baby daughter in vintage clothing. We had mentioned over the summer that we'd keep an eye out for stuff for the other, but I hadn't noticed any vintage girls' clothes (too busy goggling at vintage dresses myself). However, this time, in my frenzy, a couple of girls' dresses were mixed in and I couldn't resist.
For example. I messaged her about them, and she had just found her first vintage adult dress for me! We did an even trade, and magic was made. This whole day was fate.
So, as Sarah calls it, this sale was "the one to beat". I don't know if it will ever be beat in all of my days. That might be OK, at least until I can convince my husband to build an addition onto our house to store all my excess vintage.
Do I regret missing The Horde sale? Nope. Not one jot. I had my own horde. While the rest of you schmucks were camping out, I ran in after work for 20 minutes and made out like a bandit. Take that, Dress Horde!!!