Friday, August 30, 2013



In addition to selling vintage wares at flea markets and the antique mall, I sometimes have people come to my house to “pick.”  They often ask me where I find all the treasures I have collected.  Here are a few  ideas  on how to find the good stuff.
Read between the lines...  Online classified ads for yard and estate sales are one of my best sources for finding vintage items. However, yard sales follow the law of diminishing returns, so I make sure that I only go to the sales with the best potential during the short window of opportunity each week. First, type “antiques” or “vintage” into the search box in the garage sale  section on or craigslist and then “sift.” Look for phrases such as “40 years of accumulation,” “Grandma died and we’re cleaning out her house,” or “shed is full.” I avoid ads that say they have antiques and lots of new items, ads that only list one or two antiques, ads that list high prices and ANY ad that includes a Healthrider.
It’s a lovely day in the neighborhood. . . As the saying goes, “Location, location,    location.” Get to know which parts of town (or the state) work best for what you are hunting for.  Many vintage aficionados prefer the Avenues and Sugarhouse for their picking. Others have discovered their own “secret” neighborhoods that yield treasures galore. Give different parts of town a try until you discover which ones are your     favorites. And don’t rule out rural areas or distant parts of the state.  Find areas that work for you. . . and go back often.

Talk to sellers...  What you see is often not all you can get.  Recently I went to a yard sale that advertised that the house was being demolished.  When I got there all that was outside was newer merchandise.  After asking a few probing yet polite questions, the homeowner invited me to go inside – where the vintage items were hiding. I came out with several choice items including six ornate wood chairs.  Another tip – flea market sellers and antique dealers frequently have additional merchandise in boxes, under the table, in their trailers, or back at home.  Asking them what else they have will often yield fantastic results.
Be a detective...  The best vintage isn’t   always on top.  Or in the living room.  You’ve got to be a bit of a detective, opening drawers, cupboards and boxes.  Look under the table, at the bottom of the pile and behind the bookcase.  Look in the  basement.  Once I went down into a cellar (that was basically a hole in the floor under a trap door) looking for treasure.  That  wasn’t the word I used for the dead cat I found down there that the owners weren’t aware of. . . . Another time I found an incredible tweed suitcase at a sale – with three vintage dresses inside.
Get down and dirty...  Here are a few    suggestions Ki Nassauer offered on how to shop a junkyard in the spring 2013 issue of Flea Market Style magazine: “Search online for ‘junkyard,’ ‘scrap yard’ and ‘salvage yard.’ Work gloves and sturdy shoes are a must.  Anything you buy is likely to be filthy.  Muddy.  Disgusting.  If you don’t have a pickup truck, bring something to shield the floor of your trunk.  Both you and your car will need at bath at the end of the day, but the junk makes the grime worthwhile.”
Road trip!  A vacation is always a nice idea, don’t you think?  Why not take a junking vacation your next go-round.  Flea market magazines love to publish lists of vintage sales and there is a new nationwide online vintage guide called FleaQuest that will give you the skinny on vintage sales, shops and flea markets from Atlantic to Pacific.  In addition, there are several “hundred miles-long” yard sales – most in the East and  Midwest – to give even the most seasoned junker something to drool about. So rent yourself a U-Haul (, decide where to go (, pick up a Trip Tik travel map from AAA (google “Trip Tik”; then type in your starting point and your destination) – and don’t   forget to haggle!
Before you go. . .   Remember an over sized tote or two, a flashlight to illuminate those dark spots, a thick wad of cash, and a friend to help you carry your stuff home. Happy junking!
                                                            Sincerely, Cathie

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