Ask the Expert: Estate and Tag Sale Tips

Tag sales and estate sales in the Hamptons are the perfect opportunity to find that perfect piece for your home. More and more people are realizing the tremendous value in buying secondhand—plus, they can feel good about recycling—and Allegra Dioguardi of Styled and Sold has some expert tips to help you get the most bang for your tag-sale buck.

Allegra Dioguardi, President of Styled and Sold
Allegra Dioguardi, President of Styled and Sold

The Question: Friends of mine have found great pieces at tag sales, but I’m wary about buying any significant piece of furniture at a tag sale—I can’t return it! Do you have any tips on how to know if you’re getting a good deal, if the piece is quality or not, and what items are best to avoid buying at a tag sale?—Rick P, Southampton 

The Answer from Allegra Dioguardi of Styled and Sold:

Rick, this is an excellent question and very relevant in today’s economy. You’ve to come to right place for your answer—Styled and Sold holds professional Tag and Estate Sales for our clients and I’m very familiar with the type of furniture that is bought and sold at these sales.

Estate Sale in the Hamptons

Let’s look at upholstery pieces (sofas, chairs and sectionals) first. I frequently sell “designer” and high-end upholstery at my sales. A brand new designer sofa purchased at retail prices can easily set you back $8,000.00 or more. There is a good reason these pieces are so costly. They are made with kiln-dried hardwood and constructed with a labor-intensive technique called “eight way hand tied construction.”

In a nutshell, this means the sofa will virtually last forever. You can identify these pieces simply by trying to lift one end up. If it is very heavy, that is due to the hardwood construction and indicates you have found a well-constructed piece. If you like the shape of the frame and the sofa sits comfortably, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy it. Don’t let a dated or faded fabric cover on it dissuade you. These sofas typically sell at estate sales for between $400 and $900. When you add the cost of reupholstering or a slipcover, in a brand new fabric of your choice, you can be the proud owner of a beautiful heirloom sofa for the same price as a Pottery Barn sofa.

Deciding if you should buy case goods and occasional pieces (tables, dressers, chests, etc.) at a tag sale is even more straightforward. Most of the moderately priced furniture we buy in retail stores today is no longer made in this country and the quality is not what it used to be. If you see something you like at a tag sale, and the price and condition are good, there is no reason not to buy it. For people who are handy and artistic, consider painting or refinishing pieces and changing out hardware for a one-of-a-kind piece

Tag Sale in the Hamptons

The only items I would be leery of buying at a tag sale are chipped dishes, stained or dirty linens, aluminum pans, beds and pillows. If you purchase an electronic item, plug it in before you buy it to ensure it works because, as you mentioned, all sales are typically final.

There are advantages to attending a professionally run tag sale. The merchandise should be clean and displayed in an organized fashion and a well lit environment. The staff will have already culled through and discarded any unacceptable merchandise. They will also be happy to advise you and answer any questions. Happy tag sale-ing, Rick. Your wallet and Mother Earth will thank you!

Have your own questions about estate and tag sales, interior design or home staging? You can visit Allegra Dioguardi of Styled and Sold at or call her at 631-599-1297. And you can always send your House & Home questions to us here at [email protected].

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