...and I'm a picker. As you saw in my last post, I love treasure hunting. And finding vintage treasure usually involves lots of time spent digging through thrift stores and garage & estate sales.
|I bought this transferware, luncheon service for six, from a sweet lady on Craigslist this week. Red "isn't her thing"...fortunately, it's mine.|
A few of you asked where I find so much good stuff...I thought I'd share some of my best pickin' tips.
1. Go often. You will have to devote some time to treasure hunting if you want to find the good stuff. You might get lucky on your first trip to Goodwill, but it's unlikely. As Ben Franklin once said, "Diligence is the mother of good luck." The harder I work at finding treasure, the luckier I seem to get. Eventually you will learn which days to stop in which shops, what neighborhoods to shop, and you will even develop an "eye" for the things you like. Speaking of Goodwill...their stores are OK, but personally I love the little church thrift shops. Better pickin', better prices, and the proceeds usually support local mission projects.
2. The early worm gets the yellowware/hutch/firkin/etc. If you aren't a morning person, become one. I am not naturally gifted in this area, but I have been known to be on the doorstep of an estate sale at 5:30am with a cup of coffee and a book. Behave yourself and no one will mind.
3. Which brings me to...be polite. You don't need to grab, push or be obnoxious to get the goods. I'd rather leave empty handed than engage in rude behavior.
4. Be genuine and friendly. People like to talk and tell their stories...listen and be sincere. Don't try to get one over on people. It's icky and most people can sense it.
5. Don't be squeamish. Sometimes you will have to touch some grimy or unpleasant things...it's inevitable. Take along some hand wipes or carry a pair of work gloves with you.
6. Utilize the local newspapers for sales information. I like to get the newspapers and plan my garage sale route based on time, what is offered and location. Also note the time sales begin and end. Please respect people who say "no early birds"...they have probably been working for days to get ready for the sale and would like to sleep until 7 am.
7. Utilize online sites like Craigslist.org, freecycle.org and estatesales.net. Subscribe to these sites and have notifications sent straight to your inbox. Get to know the estate liquidators...which companies have good prices, who does a great job...which companies should you avoid? Whether buying or selling, please keep folks abreast of your intentions...and for heaven's sake, respond to emails. If you make an appointment, please, keep it! I am stunned at the number of people who are no shows on Freecycle. They are being GIVEN something and can't be bothered to show up? Always be safe when making contact with someone you don't know. Meet in a public place or take someone with you...they can even wait in the car, but never go alone. I always let sellers know I have someone with me and that I will need to find an ATM to get cash. If something seems off, it probably is...leave immediately.
I just love the old calico, ringers and stenciled porcelains and have been trying to collect enough of these buttons to make a sampler. Thanks to a sweet Craigslist seller this week, I'm ready to begin.
8. Talk to people...especially people who you are already buying something from. Tell them what you collect. Ask questions. They might have what you need...but you'll never know if you don't ask. Never be pushy or pressure someone to sell something they aren't ready to sell. If you're pleasant, they'll remember you when they are ready.
A friend of a friend called me when she was ready to sell her mother's button collection. She had heard that I like old buttons. I bought 800 of the loveliest buttons I've ever seen from her...and we both went away happy.
9. Be prepared. Fill up your gas tank the night before your pick. Fold down or take out seats in your vehicle if you need to. Make sure your cell phone is fully charged. Have a GPS or map of the area you're going to. Get up early and dress for success...wear comfy clothes & shoes. Make a list with dimensions of things you are looking for and bring along a tape measure. Take a snack and plenty of coffee along. Know where the clean bathrooms are. Pack hand wipes. Head out with a smile and be nice.
10. Be patient and enjoy yourself. Half the thrill is in the hunt. Cross you fingers and rub your rabbit's foot. Today may be your lucky day!
Happy hunting! Until next time...