Thursday, June 4, 2015

Driving Down The Highway Of Pickers - Part 1

Mike Wolfe now has a blog of stories about picking.

He (or his staff) has called it "Two Lanes Blog."

I guess "A Pickers Journal" was taken...!  (More on that in a later post....)

Just click on that title to open a page to it, if you are so inclined.

And, no, I do not get any payments per click, referrals, mentions, or any other sort of compensation.

Thinking back, oddly enough, there were several of "us" (as  in pickers, dealers, etc) that "supported" Mike and the show when it first hit the airwaves. We certainly are not even half of why the show has done so well, but I'd like to think our enthusiasm, verbal support for, and word of mouth advertising for the show helped him get a firm footing on that creaky and fickle staircase to financial success and recognition.

I think the fact that "our profession" was finally being shown on TV as a legitimate business, and that we would (hopefully) now get some respect and acknowledgement from the general public, as well as the same from family members, most of which, being non "junkers", thought we were just weirdos, hoarders, eccentrics, garbage-pickers, etc.

It did accomplish that, and more.

Some of it was negative, some positive.

There has been growing pains, for sure.

We defended Mike when things appeared nasty.

Take for example, when Mike & Frank paid a "small amount" for a saddle (seems to me it was $75, or $20, something like that.)

Then an appraisal was done...and it was appraised at a 4 figure value!

 The fallout from the general public about that was nuts on the discussion boards of History CHannel at the time. Those boards were taken down, and are likely no longer accessible anywhere. The hard drives with the data were  probably long shredded, too.

 "Crooks!", "thieves!", "scammers!", and assorted other not-so-complimentary as well as rather "blue" epitaphs were tossed at Mike & Frank  quite a bit, and had it been possible, some people were to the point of wanting to burn them in effigy!

 Of course, being bound by contractual stuff for the show, and perhaps under advisement by legal counsel,  they didn't wade into the fray.

We, and by "we" I mean various pickers, dealers, collectors and other experienced people of the antiques business; were the ones who dealt with that little shit-storm, and explained (and RE-explained x 100) that all wasn't as it seemed, and what the realities of this business are, and also pointed out the much higher mark-ups of assorted other resale businesses that they seemed to have no problems with, and the fact that it is business, so there has to be a profit margin.

And, not to mention the seller QUOTED THEM THE PRICE HIMSELF.
One thing none of those "critics" really took into consideration was that, oddly enough, when put on the open market at auction, in this case eBay, it sold for not much more than they paid for it.

That is not surprising, considering that the appraisal wasn't at all accurate, for dried out, old vintage saddle.

The appraiser was basing his appraisal on what he knew and where his expertise happens to new & used working saddles. He was not an expert in antique & vintage saddles, nor antique western goods, Americana, he had no background, nor knowledge as to the factors that actually makes some old/antique saddles valuable...and what makes others only cheap decorator items.

Anyway, back to Mike's blogging.

I am actually quite surprised it took this long for the "powers that be" to get him writing. I thought they would have pushed it right from the get go.

I wonder if he will be doing it himself, or if he is dictating, and has someone doing the typing, editing, etc?

He has the bucks to go that route, and I am sure his time tends to be limited, so he may be doing the blog posts on the fly, or someone else transcribes them from some other source he has, maybe somewhere he jots the stuff down, and someone else tidies it up, fixes grammar, spelling, etc?

He has done quite well for himself, and whatever you think of him, you do have to give him credit, he has worked hard, and is reaping the benefits.

Many of us, of course, also work very hard, maybe even some have worked harder  than Mike has,  and most of us haven't seen the same sort of success he has.

 Some pickers don't want the spotlight shone on them, for an assortment of reasons.

Some of us; yes, myself included, have tried hard to reach that level of success and recognition, but, for whatever assortment of reasons, haven't gotten that same sort of recognition.

"That's life."

"Luck of the draw."

"Just the way the cards are dealt."

Metal Man Mike is one I tripped across some time ago...just click on his name for his videos. I don't have any personal connection to him, but he is one of many characters around. He has one video on what not to do when approached by a production company, based on his personal experience.

Yes, I know I should have as many "picking" videos as he does. I never have gotten (yet) a "GoPro" type camera, and, well, getting bills paid has been more important.

I have a few videos, some badly produced, really shaky,and some, done by friends, are not bad.  One of the issues is the most interesting places I have picked tcan be some of the most dangerous I have to have both hands free...thus I don't want to be holding and aiming a camera!

Anyway, I guess the spotlight, recognition,etc, is just not in the cards for some of us, or perhaps it is just not quite "our time."

Not sure where my future lies, but wherever it lies, I am sure old junk of some sort will be prominently featured!

Picking A Relationship - The Facts.

I've neglected the blog these past few month, as "life" has been "happening".

"Bear" with me, I will explain (yes, I do that lots, I know...!)

Being a picker/dealer here in Manitoba is not an easy task...that is, IF you wish to make your living at it.

There are maybe a dozen people in the entire province who make here living on buying and selling antiques & collectibles.  Part of the reason is that out of the  population of 1.272 million people Manitoba holds, is that they are spread out over a substantial area, though most live in the bottom third portion of the province, and half of the entire province's population lives in the capital city of Winnipeg.

I reside 2.5 hour's drive from Winnipeg, currently.

I won't go through the soap opera that has been my life (saving that to fill up several chapters of my autobiography...), but the most recent "big" news is that I have become "single" once again.

This business is hard on relationships, pure and simple. Between differences in personalities, interests, and the fact a picker's life is lived part on the road, part submerged in junk (on the road and at home), among a host of other activities, we basically live and breath our business.

It is a passion, and sometimes it consumes us, or in the least temporarily submerges us once and awhile.

If your spouse/partner is of the same mindset, complimentary personality, you both communicate very well (even if it is with no one else than your partner!) , love history, see gold in all the old stuff, have respect for one another, and all that goes along with the "junk biz", then you might actually have a chance of being together for a long time.

But, people change, and sometimes those changes create rifts, goals shift, passion is diverted, etc.

I have seen many relationships split due to those sorts of changes. Marriages break up when one partner's interests change dramatically away from "old stuff."  Your partner's passion has changed from antiques to horses, and you have zero interest in equines?

Well, prep for a divorce in your future.

I am  not saying that if you partner does not live, breath and eat their dinner without attic dust sprinkled on it that your relationship is doomed.  Having a complementary personality, interests, etc can work, but communication, respect, understanding, and such things are key to keeping it working.

Maybe one spouse loves dealing with the public, selling, being a shopkeeper, while the other is the "digger" of the two who sources merchandise, does some restoration, etc.

 That sort of relationship can work well, too.

I won't go into any major details about my relationship, as my life is not being lived as a public figure; though I know that "public figures" tend to have private lives we never hear about, also, which is the way it should be...despite what we are lead to believe by the "car crash" type Reality TV shows. Also, my ex also deserves privacy.

We are not in a battle, nor at each other's throats, we just came to the realization that we are not meant to be together. We gave it a shot, about 8 years worth, and are intelligent enough to know when to call it quits. I am making it sound easy, but it was not a quick and easy decision.

It was the right decision for both of us, however.

Anyway, my chosen lifestyle was certainly part of the reason we have split,  but it is far from the whole "reason", as life is not so easily cut and dried. Let's consider the word "reason" just a container for what is in actuality a "package of reasons."

She likes old stuff, but not in the same ways I do, nor with the same type of passion I do. To her credit, despite her having pared down her belongings to very little, and pretty much having just become "minimalist" in her living style when we got together, she jumped back into the "junk biz", though only "knee deep", which I felt was adequate, and we started a life together.

These things are always a half and half; that is, as far as any "blame", responsibility or causation for things not working goes. In some cases the "blame" may lean more to one side than another, but it is almost always not 100% one partner's fault.

In our case, I view it as a 50/50 split. I try to take full responsibility for myself. I always learn from each relationship, and I learn more about myself all the time. I deal with what I can fix in myself. I then hope to find someone else who is at the same point in their lives as I am, post experience and repair.

OK, that is enough philosophy, "mushy", and heart tugging  stuff for one year, don't you think?

And now it is time to go....

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Just An Old Picker

I have been picking and dealing in "old stuff" for a long time, and I vividly recall that recently I was the "young gun" in the crowd; the youngest at every function, antiques show (etc) that I went to.

 However, I was awoken to a fact not long ago...

Rudely awoken, you could say.

I am only 44, by the way...well, ok, I admit, I am almost 45.

It came by way of a eyebrow raising moment a couple weeks ago.

I stopped in at a thrift shop while I was in Winnipeg a few weeks ago, and after doing my tour of the place, I had managed to find a few goodies.

I brought my purchases up to the sales counter which I knew totalled $5, and set them in front of the cashier.

The cashier tapped away on the register, and I was told by the smiling 60+ year grey haired lady behind the counter that the total was $4.00.

When I politely pointed out that the total was actually $5.00 the dear old gal behind the counter smiled and said:

 "Its Senior's Day."

 It took me a stunned second to realize that she had given me the "senior's discount."

I guess I need to look at it in a good light. So, I have decided that I have earned every one of my grey hairs, so perhaps getting a senior's discount 20 years sooner than I should is my reward.

Every buck counts, right?

Maybe I need to save those bucks up for some hair dye....

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Lost Family Memento or Clue to a Crime?

Several years ago, while operating/setting up a what I will call a salvage, surplus & thrift warehouse store,  I & some of my loyal volunteers cleared out a bunch of stuff from "Sooter Studios" in Winnipeg. The company had basically gone broke, or otherwise dissolved, and in a dramatic way. Perfect reality TV drama, for certain, as it involved a changed, then nose diving & failing business model,  jilted spouse, flight overseas by the other spouse, legal wrangling, etc, etc,etc.

Anyway,  we got a ton of stuff. Some was good, some was bad, and some just sweat inducing from hauling, loading, and carrying it around..

However, seeing as my eye is always open for vintage items, even in cases where most items were too modern to be collectible, I still managed to rescue a few items from the dumpsters, seeing as I am was and still am antiques picker/dealer. 

Fast forward to the present day.  I was going through stuff that I had saved, several things in a box, jumbled together, tossed there for "later research", and lots of "I'll deal with that later" sort of items and I re-found a photograph. Well, actually, it is a photograph and an enlargement of the photograph. 

Depicting a couple, and likely dating from the late teens into the early/mid 1920s, possibly late 1920s, judging by the frame and the couple's clothing. As for their age, I am assuming they are in their 20s to early 30s, and that this was their wedding photo. 

Normally, someone else's screw-up in a business is not something I seek to correct. It is not my problem that the business messed up somebody's order for 100 widgets. 

However, in this case, writing on the large envelope that contained the contents shown indicates that this is some family's photo that has been mislaid, waylaid, and was obviously just filed under one of the categories of "Oh well" and "Stuff Happens" or "Meh."  

No matter where or with whom the blame lays, I believe that this photo does have a home somewhere out there. So, even though I have, in the past, tried somewhat to locate the family of the individuals in the photo, and that I do have the research skills and "way outside the box" thinking to do so, this one just has too few clues to guide me.

The photo was taken in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. However, being that "Sooter Photo Studios" accepted jobs from all over Canada, and likely the US as well,  it could have been mailed form anywhere, by anyone. The photo was taken by THAMS Studios of Saskatoon.

Also, on the photo is information/writing that indicates 

Literally minutes ago, as I was typing the the lines above, I had a "DOH", head slapping sort of moment. 

First, before I tell you why I had the "DOH" moment, I should explain something.

I am enamoured with history, and I do find many details of history exciting, despite the treatment the subject receives by all too many school teachers, who manage to make the most exciting past events into the driest and most boring lists of facts and figures you have ever come across. 

It is no wonder with  each passing generation we loose so much documentation of our past. We've been taught that history is boring and all that matters in the future. SO much from learning from history. 

Yes, I know, you can see a tangent coming here....well, I will stop and leave that rant for another day, and get back on track.

Anyway, I have taken interest in "cold cases".

By that I mean unsolved old murder cases, and other unsolved criminal related mysteries.  

It comes as part and parcel with my quest for knowledge, and the truth behind the stories and fiction grown up around publicized cases, such as that of "Albert Johnson", of "The Mad Trapper of Rat River" fame, a riveting case that had people all over Canada and the USA glued to their radios for days.

So, back to the photo and my DOH moment.

One case I stumbled across was a woman's remains found at the bottom of an old well on June 29th, 2006.

As it turned out, the deceased passed some time ago. Evidence suggested that she was murdered and her body disposed of in the well sometime from 1900 to the 1920s!

When looking at this Bride, I remembered that case...and the police reconstruction and this gal seem, to me anyway, to have a striking resemblance.

It could be simply the style of the period hair wise, and that is what has my eye seeing the entire face as similar, but who knows. I will have to look at it closely some more later.

However, in thinking about some of my other research on an entirely different case, and one far more publicized, it got me wondering if this, the photo,  the "famous" case, and my research on that famous case may all have just come together...serendipity of sorts.

 Perhaps unknown forces have been directing me to put the pieces together!

Seeing as research is based in facts, I won't go beyond that little bit of philosophical, slash hippy-dippy-trippy line of thought.

So, the whole mystery about who "Albert Johnson" really was (they felt Albert Johnson may well have been an alias) was "recently" covered in a documentary titled "The Hunt For The Mad Trapper" by Myth Merchant Films.

Long story short, for those of you who are totally in the dark or not quite up to date on the facts about "The Mad Trapper", this is how it has gone:

For years there has been a growing list of individuals that have been thought to have been "The Mad Trapper", AKA Albert Johnson. Several books have been published by various authors, and their theories on one or more of these "possible" identities,  the related research connecting the dots, and the general mysterious near-superhuman individual dubbed The Mad Trapper of Rat River.

There are some candidates that seemed very feasible & solid possibilities, while others were a little more "out there" in their potential to be our mystery man.

However, every last "potential" identity that had any credibility had been eliminated, via DNA testing done in conjunction with the documentary I mentioned. 

So, his identity remains even more of a mystery.

I like mysteries, and as a result, I became more intrigued with AJ. However, I have been concentrating on a different line of thought, trying to figure out where he came from, the path he travelled, and I have been thinking that method may well lead me to his true identity.

Well, I have been doing lots of research, taking a way-way-outside-the-box approach as I like (tend) to do.

As a result, I may have found a "trail" of sorts...quite possibly "Albert's" trail.

With old and some previously unknown information I stumbled upon, I have been piecing together evidence to back a theory, essentially a map of movements & activities of "The Mad Trapper". 

What theory? 

Well, you will have to wait some time for that...or not. It all depends on what the future holds.

Anyway, before I get off on a long tangent, I will stop myself. (You can thank me later!)

Now, back to the main subject of this post, the photo.

I'd like to think that I can find the family to which this photo formerly belonged to.  So, if you can assist me to get further than I already have, I'd appreciate it, and would certainly give you public credit for your part in possibly reuniting the photo with the family. 

Now, I will only give you public credit if you require or desire public credit. Also, in the same vein, I can maintain your privacy as much as is realistically feasible. 

You see, now that I am nearing the end of this post, my babbling in the many lines above may link together, partially or entirely.

The historical info, interesting stories, and what, for some readers are 3 seemingly unrelated topics, bring to my mind two yet to be answered questions.

Could this be "THE MAD TRAPPER'S" wedding photo?????? 

And is the pictured bride the Jane Doe whose remains were accidentally discovered at the bottom of a long abandoned well in Saskatoon?????

I gotta go, seeing as I have much more research to do...!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Signs On the Road To the Future

I've been "out of the loop", per se, when it comes to the "hot" collectibles of the year. I have not been  delving heavy into the internet auction scene, selling my wares on the usual websites, such as eBay, Etsy, Amazon, etc. 

Nor have I done tons of "live" antiques markets, flea markets, etc in 2014.

What I have been seeing (and getting used to) is the surge in sales prices of vintage advertising signs. It is no surprise, really, that these things are starting to go a little beyond what many dealers consider realistic pricing.  

We need to consider the obvious facts that:

(1) TV, film and other "image" based media are focusing their camera lenses on such things.

(2) Considering that much effective advertising is graphic driven in the first place

(3) Those vintage graphics appeal to the masses, even if they appear "dated". 

Let me clarify point number three a bit. 

No surprise that these days vintage advertising signs appeal to more than just a die-hard vintage collector crowd.  The whole "vintage" look has been something that has been pushed in the mass marketing of brand-new-from-the-factory decor, off-the-rack at Wal-Mart, etc. Every gift shop, flower shop, decor store, (etc) that you can think of seems to carry at least one (but usually more), lines of goods with an antique-style, vintage-style, retro-decor vibe. 

Some original vintage signs I have had in the past.
The marketplace is more accepting than ever of that “dated" appearance. Some people have even come to expect it. Advertising agencies and corporations have been making their advertising dance on the nostalgia stage for quite a long time now, easily 30 years or so. It has been so long, actually, that the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s versions of previous generations memories & nostalgia are recognized as nostalgia from the very years it was "repackaged" for the wooing the consumer!

The fact is that the graphics on those of old advertising signs still do their job, which is to grab the attention of the masses.

Sprinkle in the warm & fuzzy feelings of nostalgia brings to people’s hearts, and that old advertising sign is all the more appealing. Memories of grandpa and grandma’s store, the candy counter, picnics in the country, etc. permeate their souls and strategically place a rose coloured lens between them and their memories.

You find that when those memories are not even remotely similar to yours, they still seem to make you feel content and happy.

So, I am sure the values of these pieces will continue to rise in the coming year. The bottom might fall out of the market sooner than we may expect, due to a variety of combined factors, in varying doses. Those vets of the biz have seen the same set of factors affect various categories of collectibles that have gone “mainstream” in their popularity.....

But, that is an entirely different and much, much, much longer blog posting.

Here are some of various original, antique & vintage signs I have personally picked and have had pass through my hands in the distant and recent past owned in the past.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Weird Research Encounters - Google Results

I was doing some research this evening, via GOOGLE, and I had something....

Well, how can I say this....?   


I guess you could say that some rather "odd" things were shown in the search results.....

Rather, um, insanitary sorts of results.

Now, before I go too much further, I should say that I have been using Internet search engines and their results for researching all sorts of vintage items. In the very nature of some of these items you tend to trip across bizarre results. Those not-at-all-relevant-to-your-search-terms results inherently pop up simply due to the "not usual" combinations of words you are using.

Now, I expect some weird results when I do research on medical items, commercial equipment, and use some terms that are more obvious in their potential to be problematic. Such examples include:
  Brass Boer War Era Enema Syringe
 Enlarger Pump Vacuum System
 Vintage Lingerie Rack
and when you do searches involving combinations of such words as:


and I could go on and on with all sorts of key words, but I really don't want this blog posting to be at the top of the search results for all the fetish, porn and other site searches being done....

Nothing wrong with all that, "live and let live", as the saying goes. For me, it is just that those particular  searchers are not really serious readers of this blog....!

Or, rather, I should state that those who are looking for those sites are not, at that particular moment in their day, intending to read about antiques & collectibles.

Well, not in the way I write about them, that is....and I am referring to antiques & collectibles, not the searchers..

SO, let's erase some of the images we're conjured up from our minds, shall we?

OK, so, I have gotten a few weird results while doing pretty banal searches before. One particular search was when I was doing some research on a piece connected to that classic physical comedy team Laurel & Hardy.

I typed  "Laurel & Hardy" into Google.  I was expecting to get some fan site, maybe find some history on the guys.

However, there it was....

The #1 top site was....

A porn site!

And no, it was not a gay porn site, either.

So, I suppose, considering that I am "straight" as far as my "private life" goes, that was not really a huge problem with me, if I was actually looking for a porn site involving that comedy duo's works being somehow recreated with and integrated into pornos.......!

Ah, I can see the concern spreading across some of your faces....

Don't worry, I won't be reaching into the realms of TMI...

By the way, TMI  stands for "TOO MUCH INFORMATION"...this little sidebar is for those of you trying to read entirely something else into that abbreviation!

And, btw, what ever you did read into it I can't fathom......NOR do I want to know

Actually, as for that #1 ranked site for "Laurel & Hardy", I have no idea what the site had as to content...aside from it being a porn site. I won't explain how I knew that, as I really don't think I need to.

(If I need to explain, well, you are very likely a minor, and a very, very, very sheltered one at that. If you are over 18 and haven't a clue what I am talking about....well, you have issues I simply can not help you with. I am a picker, not a counsellor or shrink, sorry. You must have the wrong blog.)

Besides, I was on the computer at my store at the time, during business hours. I figured it was not exactly something I needed my customers seeing...nor hearing.

I realize some people do get very excited over antiques & collectibles, yes...

But not quite THAT excited.

So, if you are not entirely distracted......

(And I don't want to know why you are distracted if you do happen to actually be entirely distracted....)

BACK to the original subject of this blog...

I had done a search on Google seeking some information on an antique/vintage object.

The item?

Take a guess...and try to think of something as bland and as non-kink, non-fetish, non-sexual, etc, etc, etc as you can.....

Any ideas?

Well, it was simply....

A doorknob.

 A very old doorknob, actually...pre 1870, I'd think. However, I don't know its age for sure, at the moment. You see, I came directly to my blog to write this after seeing the results I got for this simple, banal, 3 word search.

It happens to have some markings on it, and upon close inspection I realized they were not American, nor European, but Asian in origin.  I figured maybe they were possibly Japanese. So, I went with that....and typed in the following as my search parameters::

Japanese Bronze Doorknob

Oh, and I should mention that I tend to set Google to do Image searches when I am doing research involving vintage objects, rather than text ("Web") searches.

So, I learned something new. However, it is something I really did not need to know.

And, it is pretty close to being something I would rather have not known. 

The images did not quite rank up there with the sorts of images you wish you could un-see.....things like a particular scene in John Water's cult film "Pink Flamingos". For those of you who are not familiar with Mr Water's earlier works I will try to be gentle in my description.  This scene; almost seemingly randomly inserted in the film; involved a "performer" doing bizarre things/movements with a muscle that is not one usually even given daylight exposure in public ....or even in most private circumstances; in the average person's presence, anyway. But John Waters is who he is...and cast this, um, "unusually talented" fellow is his film.

The scene is burnt into my mind like a recurring nightmare....I wish I could blot it out....... the horror...oh the horror....

So, the images Google brought up were not that sort of image.

However, I think that if I ever travel to Japan, I will carry a box of latex gloves around with me, just for those times I need to twist a doorknob.

That is it.  Do your own search, ok?

 I am trying my utmost to forget...!


An additional word of warning: "bronze door knob" is not a useful set of search terms when looking for antique hardware, either....!!!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

How NOT To Run Your Store!

I was on Facebook this evening, and like many days on there, I was quickly looking over a couple threads on a collectors page. 

What page, items, etc is not important in this case.  

The memory it triggered is the important thing.

Within this little story is a lesson that should resonate for all store owners, especially those of you in the "junk biz". 

Frankly, it doesn't matter if you run a second hand shop, thrift shop, antiques store, collectibles store, flea market booth, operate just a flea market table, run a perpetual garage sale, etc, any of these cases, PLEASE DO NOT be like the owners of the store I am about to describe!

* * * * * * * *

About 15 or so years ago, a fellow dealer and I were enroute to an antiques show a couple provinces over. We did a little buying along the way, stopping in at the odd shop we knew about or happened to come across.

We tended to looked through the yellow pages, brochures, etc for shops to potentially check out, while killing a little time after supper, sitting in the room at the hotels/motels we'd book into for the evenings.

Anyway, one place we  found, possibly in the yellow pages, we decided to check out.

We finally found the place, and when we walked in we had both thought:

 DAMN, this place is packed!

We have/had very different interests & specialities; John being into high-end glass, "true antiques", quality porcelain, sterling silver, Sheffield plate and that sort of traditional fare,  and I myself was into country antiques, nostalgia, toys, advertising, etc. 

Despite our divergent interests, there was some damn cool stuff within the scopes of both of our fields of interest; scattered all over, mixed in amongst mediocre stuff and a smattering of junky, shelf filler sort of fare.
Luckily, pretty much everything in the store was tagged. We hate when things are not priced.

But, there was one odd thing we quickly noticed about the tags.

They only had code numbers on them...not a price!

 We asked about a couple things each, and quickly realized why the place was packed, and still had cool stuff all over....

Every time we asked about the price of an item, relaying to them the number written on the tag, if we could even read it, (considering how faded, dusty, and smudged many of the tags were) the 3 owners of the store (all family, I think) huddled around a stack of semi-loose pages, all dog-eared, stuffed in a book/binder. Flipping through it, and finally selecting a page, presumably connected with the number we gave them, they whispered amongst themselves, furtively looking up at us during their conversation..  

Then, eventually after much whispering, page flipping, and glances in our direction, they would finally quote a price....

Which was easily 3 times what the item was worth....

After going through 3 or 4 of these agonizing episodes, some of which took 10 minutes or so, we looked at each other with eyes rolling and walked out. We have never gone back, and no one we know whom we have told the story to has ever darkened that store's doorstep, purposely, that is.

Now, does this sound like your shop? 

If so, I have some top notch advice you need to consider. 

You have a couple options on how to make money in this sort of scenario....because you sure as heck are not making a single dime right now. 

Option 1: Close and lock your doors. Then, go out and get a  9 to 5 job.

Option 2:  Go outside, tear down your store sign. Flip it over and with a can of spray paint, in big letters, write the following word:


 Then, underneath that, write:

Admission $1.00  

This way, you might actually make a buck.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Picker Entertainment!

Sometimes in this business you trip across amusing little things, old humorous articles in the way of old newspaper clippings that someone from yesteryear clipped and saved in some old book,  funny little letters, goofy comedic postcards, amusing photographs, information in books that is so-o-o-o outdated it makes you giggle, etc.

Well, I tripped across something that made me laugh today, and I thought I'd share it with you.

It turns out the folks at Bombardier had a sense of humour at one time...and decided to include their brand of humour in their user's manual for their "Snowmobile". 

I have personally not known these as a "Snowmobile" has always been known as a "Bombardier"; which we pronounce as "Bomb-bah-deer". That might be one of those Canadian prairie slang terms unique to us Canadian Prairie folks, who knows!

Anyway, I'll leave you now to enjoy the cartoons I found while leafing through it...Enjoy!.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The More The Merrier - Subcultures and the Antiques Business

There is a constant debate in this business as to how to get "younger blood" involved and interested in antiques and the history surrounding the objects. 

Now, there are tons of young, mold able minds out there. Directing this throng of disorder into the antiques business would be like trying to direct a nervous bull through a dealer's show full of Lalique and Tiffany art glass. 

 However, there are tons of young minds who are already interested in history, its related objects and accoutrements.

You may have already heard of some of these terms:




My personal opinion of such genres, subcultures, etc; like Steampunk, Dieselpunk (etc, etc) is that as antiques folks and history lovers, we should ALL embrace these groups. 


These groups are full of people who are as like minded as the antiques crowd. the only difference is they just happen express their interest in history, the fashions, the "gear"/objects, etc in a different way than we do. 

They do throw less traditional things into the mix, and even in some ways "improve" what we know as factual history. The mixing of fiction and factual history is nothing new. The term "Historical Fiction" is a long standing tradition in writing circles.

 Steampunk is simply a a modern version of Historical Fiction. They have pulled science fiction of a "past" age into the fold, and hit "MIX" on the old eggbeater...and added a steam engine to it.

 The problem with the "antiques business" I quickly noticed/encountered when I was a young dealer/picker, was those in the business projected staid, snobbish, boring, dry, elitist (etc, etc,etc) types of attitudes. 

Not exactly appealing to a younger crowd...not by a long shot. The business has changed in many ways, loosing some of those negative traits from some circles, but it has a long way to go. 

Many of those individuals who participate in Cosplay, LARP, Steampunk conventions, (etc,etc,etc) and those such events are interested in history. However, they are not keen to be bored to death.

 SO many people make history what it is not.  Take, as an example, all those history teachers we encountered in our school years who, to our chagrin, managed to make our favourite subject a snoozefest.  

What we all know history is NOT is BORING 

We all need to expand our horizons, experience new things, look at the world in a different way. Perhaps picking and dealing in antiques has forced me to look at things differently. I would think that this business, more than any other, should be full of people who look at things differently than the mainstream public.

I suggest you check out these genres, even if no where else but the web, on sites like  Google Images, Google, eBay,  Etsy, Pinterest as well as the list of links I have listed at the end of this post.

Expand your horizons. You might just find you fit in to these groups, find new markets for your merchandise, make friends, find partners, meet kindred spirits and just generally open up your eyes to many possibilities of the antiques business you never even realized existed.

I have to go...I've got an airship to catch!

Part of a quickly made Steampunk outfit I created for a Halloween party I attended

(Feel free to send your comments with your favourite Steampunk website links! If they are not "spammy" or already represented here, I will be happy to add them to this list!) - Modern technology with a Victorian flair!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Big T.O.P. List - The Weekend Garage Sale Picker!

Yes, I know, this blog posting is late in coming....I also got distracted and did a "non picker types related blog post" in disorganization is showing (more on that "little" topic will be covered in later postings)

It is summer here in Manitoba, and things have been hectic. Summers are just way too short here in the prairies. 

I tend to try to pack a years worth of outdoor work into just a few scant months. Plus, I need to keep up with indoor projects  (and general "life") at the same time.

Also, with summer comes garage sales & yard sales, of course. 

Garage sales and yard sales are pretty much synonymous these days. I have seen "Yard Sales" in garages, and "Garage Sales" held in yards. 

The terms are essentially interchangeable. It is all semantics, really.

That brings with it the "weekend garage sale hobbiest pickers."

Let's just call 'em WGSHP's for short, okay?  That will save my achin' fingers some work....!

So, these "pickers" are probably the "lowest" on the totem pole of picker types.  

No, no, no,  I am not saying they are "scum" or anything of the sort, they are just the lowest level at which I would consider someone to actually be able to legitimately use the word "picker" as a part of their "title".

The individual who is a WGSHP will determine by their actions if they deserve respect or not. Heck, everyone on this earth should take that thought to heart, really...

But, this blog is about picking, so I will stay away from the oh-so-tempting philosophical rant running around my brain (for the time being, anyway.)

WGSHPs do just what the title describes. They run around to garage sales on the weekends and buy items for resale. Whether they resell them online, at auctions, to dealers, at flea markets, to fellow collectors (and on and on) is all irrelevant.

The source of their merchandise is garage sales, pure and simple.

The sources of any picker's merchandise can generally be determined by the types of stuff they don't find.  If you put a pile of a picker's picks in front of them, and lined them up in a long row, you would soon see how the merchandise runs the gamut, as to the picker's picks' quality, type, age, size, etc, etc, etc. The list of differences is an entire lifetime long, really.

For example, a WGSHP may come up with the odd advertising sign, maybe a mint boxed tin toy now and then, some new/old stock inventory once and awhile, a primitive piece occasionally (if that is even on their radar), a valuable painting, etc. 

But, what you will notice is that they do not have a regular influx of certain items that a "professional picker" tends to bring to the market. 

There will/could be a regular influx of Swanky Swigs, Starbucks Coffee mugs, china, 1970s mod items, 1980s funky retro items, 1990s collectible toys, and a long laundry list of other items that can be found at garage sales with regularity.

I am not knocking these items or categories, don't get me wrong! 

Have you seen what some of the modern Starbuck coffee mugs sell for on eBay? 

Heck, it is enough to give you coffee mug envy!

The WGSHP is a part timer...well, an "occasional timer", really. Their buying activity is pretty much limited to those weekend garage sales. They might drop in to the odd auction, the odd thrift shop, and even some antiques & vintage shops. 

They might actually spend a dollar or two in those places, too. Their collecting habits might be the very fuel for the garage sale picking they do. 

Many collectors finance the acquirement of parts (or even their entire) collections in this way, using the profits from their garage sale hunting to add to their collections. 

Oh so many collectors start out going to garage sales in the first place simply as part of their hunt for the objects of their personal obsessions. On one of those outings, they see something that they know is SO absurdly cheap that they can not resist buying it, even though it is not something that they want themselves.  

After that, and maybe even during the moment they spot the bargain.....

....they figure out that they should SELL it to a dealer, fellow collector, scrap gold buyer (etc!). 

They end up grinning ear to ear after they have resold the item(s) for a "handsome" profit. With that profit they treat themselves to a purchase of a  piece that previously caught their bottomless collecting heart, but the contents (or rather lack of contents) of their wallet blocked their acquiring it to fill that empty space. 

With that little space filled.....

A Weekend Garage Sale Hobbiest Picker is born!

Will he/she grow, expand their horizons, mature? 

Some do, some don't.

Those that do mature become one of the many other "Types Of Pickers" in this world....and now you k now where the "T.O.P" of this list comes from....

So, are you a WGSHP? 



If you answered no, keep reading this blog for more T.O.P postings! 

Heck, if you answered YES, you should keep reading, too!
You may end up deciding you want to change your picker title!
Or you just want to be is all good! 

Safe pickin', folks!