I went to an estate sale today in my hometown. A friend let me know that two of her friends were putting the sale on and that there were plenty of toys. Plenty of carded 1990s GI Joes, to be exact. That’s why I drove 3.5 hours, rented a little Vrbo, braved the hot sun, and spent a bunch of money.
Here’s the story behind the estate sale and what I found.
The sale was organized and put on by Mothball Estate Sales and this was their first big sale. Samantha and Melissa, the owners of Mothball Estate Sales, are collectors and vintage enthusiasts themselves. Sam also co-hosts an excellent, hilarious, and insightful podcast called The Mothball Prophecies that interviews collectors from all walks of life.
They’re the perfect people to put on an estate sale like this because they’re knowledgeable and they’re passionate. They care deeply about these items and these memories.
Here’s their writeup about this estate sale:
“We can’t wait to introduce you to the jaw dropping collections of Eleanor*. Eleanor worked at a cherished small town general store for most of her adult life, where she eventually retired after decades of loyal service. Eleanor raised her three sons in the home and saved many of their keepsakes, clothes, and games, including an abundance of now vintage toys from the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Eleanor was a Jane-of-all-trades: She dabbled in Tupperware, glassware, Avon, gardening, crafting, and interior decorating. She especially loved Holdiday decor. We’re talkin’: Christmas, Easter, Halloween, and Thanksgiving. Always encouraging creativity among her children, her shop was used as a space to create hand-hewn log beds, complete with a spindle lathe. Eleanor’s home covers all corners of collecting and we can’t wait to share this home’s stories with you.“
The general store in question was a “discount department store” called King’s, which I frequented as a kid. When my friend told me The Mothball Prophecies Gals were putting on an estate sale that included stock from King’s, I knew I had to make the drive.
As many of you know, my mom passed away last month. I just got her house cleaned out (which is a huge and crazy story for another time), so I was happily back home in Boise and not really expecting to return to my hometown again. But then my friend messaged me about this sale– so back to the hometown I went.
I brought my friend Jason with me because he’s an expert on yard sales and estate sales. He also saw some board games he wanted in the pre-sale photos that were posted on Facebook, so he was happy to go with me.
Jason told me we should show up an hour early, and I’m glad we did. Thankfully, there was some shade in the driveway (mostly due to a thoughtfully placed tarp) and the hour went by pretty quickly. I played Wordscapes on my phone and chatted with some ladies who showed up before us.
Finally, about five minutes before the sale was about to start, some people working the sale dumped the 90s Joes out on a card table outside. I was about fifth in line, so I scooted over there at 4pm on the dot and said “I will take literally every one of them.”
Then I got the chance to really talk to Sam and Melissa. They were lovely. They were eager to share stories about Eleanor, about King’s, and about their passion for vintage goods. I’d heard so much about them through our mutual friend (and I’ve been listening to The Mothball Prophecies for a while now), but it was great to finally chat with them. Melissa and I have crossed paths a few times before, but I’d never said much to her before today.
So after I scooped up all the carded Joes, I looked in “the toy room.” This was a huge estate sale encompassing both floors of the house, the back yard, and the garage. There were thousands of cool things all over the home. I didn’t snap many photos, but I did find some bagged 82-83 Joes and accessories in the toy room. My friend found some stuff he wanted, including a carded Beast Wars Powerpinch.
There were so many amazing things in that toy room– I also found a Battle Force 2000 Vector Jet and a Lego Castle baseplate. There were so many more things I could have combed through, but I was already spending enough money.
Melissa got my stuff rang up and bagged. Here’s what it looked like.
When I got back to the Vrbo, I laid it all out on the table. Here’s the leftover GI Joe stock from King’s Discount Department Store in my hometown.
I remember seeing some of these exact toys on the shelves at King’s when I was a kid. It blows my mind that I now own the actual figures I spent hours looking at when I was a child who only had enough allowance money for one figure. This time, I didn’t have to choose.
I love that the King’s price tags are still on the cards, as well.
Most of these toys will be opened and reviewed. I’m looking forward to it. There are some figures here I don’t have at all, and the rest will be used to complete my existing figures. The duplicates will be sold or given away. I have a few giveaway plans, as well, and there are a couple pieces I want to go to friends.
Before we close out, here’s what I found in those baggies of 82-83 Joes and accessories.
I’ve always wanted an 83 Stalker, so it was worth it for that alone.
I’m so grateful for Samantha and Melissa. They put on a perfect, beautifully staged estate sale that drew in a ton of people. Everyone was so friendly and helpful and the vibes were immaculate.
It’s kind of ironic that I returned to my hometown so soon after basically realizing I never had a reason to go back again, but I’m glad I did. It wasn’t because I got a “screaming deal”– Mothball Estate Sales does all of their research and they know exactly what they have. All of the prices I paid were perfectly reasonable and I was happy to pay them. But this wasn’t about getting a deal on stuff I’m going to resale later. In fact, I won’t be selling most of it.
This was about reconnecting to a beloved store from my childhood and sharing that with all of you, through this silly website about army dolls and tiger robots.
That little general store and its toy department will now live on forever. And I can’t wait for us to dig into more of those memories together.