Wednesday, December 29, 2010
How do you really make dough in this business? You pay attention to quality at any level. I have preached repeatedly over the years that you should make money anytime, anyway, that you can. KitchenAid provided us all with an item that can readily be turned into cash!
KitchenAid mixers are great items for picking up a little extra cash. Everything from the old mixers to new are popular with everyone from professional cooks to everyday homeworkers. The typical used mixer goes for around $100.00. Keep an eye out for the attachments. Many of the attachments can be sold for $20 to 200.
First, NO! I am not recanting. A few weeks ago I wrote about the spate of new television shows, American Pickers, Pawn Stars and the host of new auction shows. I was overall on the negative side in my review of the shows. What I said in the review was true. But what has the net effect really been?
Amazing! The number of people attending auctions and storage locker sales has increased ten fold. For years I have been attending storage locker sales and typically the crowd of attendees rarely went over 10 bidders. Today I attended a storage locker sale, that had a total of 4 units, and over 200 bidders showed up. Unbelievable! Over 200!
Initially my reaction was "My God you have to be kidding. This many bidders is going to make it impossible for me to buy anything." Well that didn't happen. The units brought the same amount that they always do.
Second reaction, curiosity. That's right, I figured that they had all seen the shows and just plain wanted to see what it was all about. Today, they got a good dose. Four units that were filled with what could best be described as a bunch of crap. I do not deny that you can make money on these storage sales, if you couldn't I would not be going. But like I said before you need to go through a bunch of them before you get one good one.
Third reaction, the new bidders were hoping to get rich quick. Watching these shows leads one to believe that these storage units are just teeming with tons of great stuff that is worth massive amounts of money. Today, they were disappointed.
Fourth reaction, FANTASTIC! Fantastic? I just spent two full blogs knocking these stupid shows. FANTASTIC. Around here business has been particularly poor. For the first time in over 3 years people were excited about something in Youngstown, Ohio. It didn't involve a murder scene or a burning building, it was a simple storage locker sale. Two hundred people attended a piece of crap storage auction sale, fantastic!
What it really means is there is hope for this business. These shows for all of the nonsense and impossible expectations that they raise have generated genuine interest in the business again. I really hope that the interest continues and that better prices for everything are just around the corner. The depression / recession / or whatever we are calling nowadays has really hurt the antiques and collectibles market. Is this sudden boon in attendees going to bring about an end to slumping sales? Probably not, at least not by itself, but it certainly helps in creating interest in the business again.
Sorry, about the photo quality. It was 5:10 in the evening and it was taken on a cell phone.
Friday, December 24, 2010
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Yep, they are all out there now. Antiques Roadshow, American Pickers, Pawn Stars, Auction Hunters...and many more, although, there should be less. What do I think about them? For the most part not much. One or two of them have some entertainment merit, but for the most part they do not accurately reflect what the antiques (money making) business is really about.
Lets start with the latest of the group, Auction Hunters. As all of you who have been reading my posts ( Stephanie, Gus & my kids) I go to storage unit sales. As I have stated it is a high risk / high return method of buying and selling. These two men Ton Jones and Allen Haff, have the most incredible luck that has ever been seen in the modern world. A bad purchase for them results in making 2 or 3 thousand dollars on a storage unit. The good ones just keep falling out of the sky for them. $3,000 bikes, $2,000 cash registers, cars, guns the list just goes on and on.
But what about the other stuff? You know the clothes, broken dinner sets, trashed electronics, rats, bugs and just plain junk. They just seem to forget about that part of it. Here is the reality. Yes, you can find some tremendous bargains. I have found guitars, gold jewelry and good furnishings. I have also found Ton's of clothes, worthless household items and a 22" nicely colored, perfectly preserved rat. That's right a rat. At first I thought it was a well made toy. Nope immediately upon picking it up (of course I didn't have gloves on that day) I realized its true identity. So if your squeamish...stay away from storage lockers.
So now that the rat story has been told, on with the everything else. First, you are required to remove all items within 24 hours. This problem is easily solved by owning either a box truck, large van or trailer. Second, you need to be able to put it somewhere, so that you can go through it to see what you have purchased. I would suggest renting a large barn. This will give you the space that you will need to sort all of your treasures out. Third, you need a network to get rid of the stuff. This is real easy with the good stuff. Gold, easy to sell. Tiffany lamps, anyone will buy them. Stinky underwear, or a dead rat, a little more difficult.
You will need several cooperative auctioneers, a local Goodwill store that is willing to take your clothing and close proximity to a free dump (these don't exist unless you can find an abandoned house). Real simple. No problem. EEEEASY!
Practically speaking, the show is somewhat entertaining. The truth is you can get great buys, unfortunately you can also get bombs. I would also suggest that calling your competitors whales on national television just might incite some of them to being slightly more competitive and in some special cases more murderous. Don't be stupid, calling someone a whale publicly can be dangerous. Also, save the screaming about your great finds for the privacy of your own home. You will look stupid and ridicules even when you do it in a metal storage building. Bottom line: A BIG THUMBS DOWN TO THIS SHOW!
Next lets talk about the Pawn Stars. In my opinion this is one of the more entertaining shows in the antique world. I have had a employees who could have been Chumlee's mental twin work for me. I won't mention any names in order to protect the guilty, but the Chumlee's are probably the most important people in the business. Why? Because we all need to be entertained, and the Chumlee's are great entertainers. They break up the monotony, they make us laugh and their unique perspective keeps on our toes.
Typical episodes involve Rick Harrison viewing items brought into the pawn shop, then stating that he needs his expert to look at it, and finally offering (or not offering ) to buy or pawn the item. The items are varied and typically expensive. Besides entertainment the shows good sides are its educational value, its realistic price negotiating and it shows how naive most people are when it comes to business. Rick states over and over that he needs to make money one every piece that he buys. This is true, he won't (and neither will you) be in business very long if he doesn't. His customers consistently want the full value of the items that they are offering for sale, he simply says "that's not going to happen". Smart man, we should all follow his lead.
The unrealistic portion of the show is fact that they sell everything at retail. Unfortunately getting "retail" prices is virtually impossible for the majority of us out here in the antiquing world. Las Vegas is the capital of stupid spending. Over the years I have performed many appraisals for large carat rings that were purchased in Vegas. Vegas price on a typical ring $32,000, Podunk Ohio price for the same ring $9,000. Do they really get the high prices? For their sake I hope so, for the rest of us hill folk out here, "ya purdy much takes wats ya cun git".
American Pickers! Wow, what a great idea, go up to someones junky looking house or farm, tell them your here to give them money for their antiques and then buy, buy, buy! So simple. First, the typical goofball who has shit piled up all over his property is, well not quite right in the head. Yeah, we all have the old doghouse that's tipping over, the blue bike along the garage and an occasional junk car, but we aren't talking about typical here. The type of person who hoards piles of mostly useless junk also hoards:
RATS / COCKROACHES
For the typical antiques dealer without a television crew, $75,000 truck and invitations received from someone craving television attention to show off their collections, going up to these types of homes can be, well suicidal.
For those of you feeling that you need to do this I have a suggestion, take a few precautions first. Number one bullet proof vests, second rabies vaccinations finally a completed will. I would also suggest wearing a very strong cologne. This will facilitate the search dogs finding the remains of your body after is been buried in the back yard due to the "accidental" shooting.
Do I like this show? Not really.
Then there is the granddaddy of them all Antiques Roadshow. Good information, great stuff, fun format and entertaining. In 35 years of buying and selling antiques I have never seen anything like the stuff they get on each show. Enough said.
Overall the shows should be viewed with a grain of salt. Just like my blog these shows can be full of crap. I will tell all of you the educational value is fantastic. You will see items that just don't show up everyday. So watch, learn and be aware that with some luck finding these great antiques could happen to you.
Antiques Roadshow- PBS
Pawn Stars- History Channel
Auction Hunters- Spike
American Pickers- History Channel
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Monday, November 1, 2010
What has happened to the antiques and collectibles market? Have the changes occurred due to the economy, is it because of changes in styles or are collectors just plain tired? Just what are they looking for?
All of these questions and no real answers. The changes in buying habits seem to be drastic and have occurred in a very short period of time. I have been at this now for over 30 years. During those 30 years I have witnessed the seemingly constant increases in the value of antiques and collectibles. Sure there were some crazy short term blasts like beanie babies and collectible plates. But for the most part these were aberrations. Most collectors witnessed an almost continuous increase in the value of their collections. Now those increases seem to be in a full reverse. Prices are down. Dealers are leaving the business at a pace faster than I have ever seen before. So if you are a dealer / investor what is the answer?
The real answer is simple BUY, BUY, BUY, BUY!!!! No, I haven't been smoking exotic tropical plants that Ohio just happens to have a growing season just long enough for. The answer is buy because for the collector, the low prices available on a wide variety of "rare" items gives unprecedented ability to purchase items that you could only dream of before.
Reverse painted Handel lamps are down 20-30%
Pedal cars down 50%
Cut glass absolutely bargain prices down 70%
Name your favorite collectible and it is most likely 1/2 the price that it used to be. Now is not the time to moan about the fact that your Hummel Chimney Sweep figurine is only worth $15.00 when you paid over $50.00 for it 5 years ago. Instead of worrying about that, why not go out and buy the Hummel Century pieces that used to cost $1500.00 and are now bringing only $500.00. Use this era of low prices to your advantage, it will not last forever.
On the other end of the scale some items are doing exceptionally well. These items are very easy to pick out because they are mostly shiny items. Gold, silver and platinum are reaching all time highs. Keep an eye out on jewelry boxes at auctions and garage sales. Stephanie (my wife) bought a 14k gold bracelet for 50 cents at a garage sale. She sold it for almost $800.
Other things that are hot right now:
Clean usable household furnishings, stay away from anything that smells, is scratched or is from a home with animals or smokers.
Automobiles that look decent and can be priced under $3000.
For everyone out there, it isn't really the best time to sell off your collections that you started 10 years ago. Prices are down. The truer reality is that it is a great time to buy. Don't be depressed. Take advantage of the current buying climate and add those rare items that you could not previously afford.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Not bad for a short guy!
Getting ready for a big sales day.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Walter Menning? Who in the world is Walter Menning? Well, guess what, I'm going to tell you.
I was first introduced, posthumously, to Walter in 2001. It was a strange introduction to say the least. I had received a phone call from a man who was looking to sell the contents of a home that he had purchased. Since I really like to make money, I accepted the invitation and scheduled an appointment to see the household. I arrived at the home early and immediately became concerned. The house (as we are calling it) was a little run down. It started with twenty years of overgrowth, it continued with a Herman Munster looking washed out rotting wood lapboard and yes, of course boarded up windows / doors. If all of this was not enough it came with a companion house that sat directly facing it (on the same lot) that was even more terrifying than Walter's house. So there I was sitting in my car in what most people would designate a very bad neighborhood, on a very hot late August afternoon, thinking to myself, "I'm getting the hell out of here before I end up dead!".
My fears were compounded by the fact that I though I saw a ghost (or maybe it was a puttytat) go running across the yard (it was really a finch). My heart pounding, my overactive imagination flying made me decide that this one just was not for me. I proceeded to write a little note to put on the door when I had second thoughts. The second thoughts came due to one (and only one) observation, metal venetian blinds on the second floor window. American Pickers would have been proud of me. Two inch wide metal venetian blinds are a sure sign of one thing, old folks. Young kids use plastic, poor people use sheets, the loony tunes use newspaper, the rich use exotic cloths and old folks...METAL VENETIAN BLINDS. Oh yeah, old folks kept these blinds forever.
So, I tore up the note. Pulled out my phone and called the now very late owner of the property. He had forgotten about me. This happens all of the time. Most of the time I just ignore it because, well I still like to make money and the only way to make it in this business is to have the items that people want to buy. The owner was very nice and immediately left to meet me at the house. Fifteen minutes later he arrived, screw gun in his hand. One by one the screws on the well placed plywood dropped to the ground. A little bit of prying and off it the board came, what I saw next, is to this day one of the most unusual sights that I have ever seen. The house(s) were absolutely perfectly preserved. It seems, according to the owner, that Walter had left the house for a nursing home, over 20 years prior to this hot summer day. That's right! This home had been boarded up for over 20 years and not been touched.
Pretty cool! Just to add a little more to this cool is the fact that Walter Menning had been born in the house and lived there his entire life. Here are some other great things about Walter.
- Walter was an avid photographer
- Walter was only 3" tall.
- Walter NEVER through anything out.
- Walter also had a sister (Tillie) who was 3" tall and had a masters degree.
- He was the school mascot for The Rayen School
- He was a writer.
- He marched in the holiday parades in a vintage oil cloth Mickey Mouse suit.
- He became a household name in our home. To the point that to this day we speak of him with great respect.
- He worked at Idora Park.
These are just some of the things that we know about Walter. He unknowingly left a tremendous history of his life. So today, I am going to start Walter's story, I will tell you about Idora Park and the simple man who should go down as one of its greatest employees. Since this is probably going to be one of my longer posts it will take a few days for me to finish it. Today, part one.
An antiques dealers dream! After the plywood came down, the door unlatched and with only the dim light of a fading day I first observed Walter's domain. The living room, old mohair sofa, upholstered rocking chair and pole lamp. A stand with an ashtray, glasses sitting where they were last taken off and surprisingly only a very light covering of dust.
The dining room, great massive 10 piece Berkey and Gay dining room set. Fancy enough to sit in the finest homes of the day. The china cabinet was amazing in that everything was placed as it had been used only yesterday. The neatly laid doilies on the sideboard. The chairs place appropriately around the table. Walter must have been a perfectionist.
His kitchen was old, oaken cabinets filled with Homer Laughlin china, water glasses with multi floral motifs, brightly colored bowls and drawers of everyday flatware. Next, one scary room. The scary room was attached to the home as if it were an after thought. It wasn't a garage nor was it ever intended to be a family room. It could be appropriately described as a huge mud room complete with mud (no flooring). It also seemed to contain a multitude of local miniature animals. Rats? I don't think so, but it definitely had bats, mice and one large groundhog. All of this combined with an outgrowth of flora and fauna, that was ironically growing in the dark, gave the room a very creepy feeling. Thank goodness that whoever had this part of the house added on knew enough to put up a strong door. A door that I kept closed and never reopened.
The second floor must have been Walters haven. A dark room contained hundreds, no thousands, of his photo's. A bedroom that was simple and well lived in. Guest rooms that looked as if they were waiting for friends and family to arrive. This was Walters main home. As dark as it was, it was full of life. Its history preserved through his photography, his life preserved preserved by the trinkets and treasures he kept. This place, this man were getting ready to tell me a story that I will carry with me the rest of my life.
Part 2, Same bat time, same bat channel...later this week!
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Friday, June 4, 2010
Friday, May 28, 2010
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Geroge Roman Auctioneers, Kiko Auctioneers, Byce Auctions, Baer Auctions, Boardman Auction Gallery, Jeff Anglin, Paul Bassinger...and more!
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Friday, May 14, 2010
Five years ago she first expressed an interest in pursuing a degree in art from Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD). At first she had a lot of detractors. Was she crazy? Why go all the way to Columbus to get, of all things, a degree in art? Who needs a degree in art anyway? Can't anyone draw a stick man?
Well she wasn't crazy. In fact she was more than sane. I have to say with a great degree of pride that watching here grow in her chosen career has been simply, "a blast". Her determination and drive has just been amazing. Her accomplishments, far beyond expectations. Her skills phenomenal.
So, today I am officially taking a day off. Every parent out there wants to see their kids succeed. So far I am 6 for 6. I tell everyone that I see that there is no such thing as luck. I am going to stick to that...except on this one issue. I am truly lucky to have the kids that I have.
Rachel, great job, congratulations on accomplishing what at times probably seemed impossible. It is my greatest hope that whatever you choose to do good health, success and happiness follow your every step.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Friday, May 7, 2010
Woke up at 4:45am.
5:15 Ate breakfast.
5:45 Walked up the street for a newspaper.
6:10 Checked ebay, emails, blog, auction zip.
6:45 Mapped out garage sales after reading paper.
7:00 Left house for 1st garage sale.
7:15 Got to sale before anyone else...purchased nothing. Complete waste of time.
8:00 to 12:00 Went to 18 garage sales. Bad morning, spent a total of $20, probably should have spent $0.00!!
10:00 Took a phone call from local storage company who needed an auctioneer. Set up appt. to see them in late afternoon.
12:00 - 2:00 Listed on ebay, cut grass and washed van.
2:45 Bought flowers for Stephanie (Mothers Day! Don't forget.)
3:00 Filled car with gas. Giant Eagle (local supermarket) Get Go saved $1.60 a gallon.
3:30 Arrived at auction that began at 4:00
4:00 - 5:45 Spent $375 at auction. Great auction expect to make a few hundred dollars.
6:00 Met with storage unit people.
6:15 Came to agreement to sell the units.
6:30 Arrived back at auction to meet Stephanie. She came there after work to see me. Of course I wasn't there when she got there. She didn't mind and was happy that I got the auctioning job.
7:00 Spent another $125 and stayed to the end of the auction.
8:00 After loading purchases from the auction got back home.
9:00 Too tired to cook so we ate out at Olive Garden.
10:00 Sat down at home.
10:30 Went to Bed. Stayed there until 4:40 Friday.
Pretty much a typical day. There are times when I go out and just can't miss. Today however the garage sales were pretty lame. I didn't let it bother me. I approach bad moments with the attitude that the next place will present great opportunity. It almost always does.
Sometimes the key to success is persistence. At anytime during the day I could have stopped, gone home to watch t.v. and relaxed. I didn't. Looking for every chance to "make it" finally paid off when I least expected it. The auction and the agreement to sell the storage units were the good payoffs. The rest of the day as far as business goes pretty much sucked.
This business can be frustrating at times. You work and work and work with what seems at the time, no hope of a payoff. Then out of nowhere good things happen. I guess that life in general is that way. The antiques business just magnifies it because instead of the payoffs happening on Friday's with the receipt of a paycheck, the payoffs occur every time you make a good purchase.
In life (and the antiques business) never give up. Persistence and a willingness to do whatever is needed to obtain your goals will always pay off. Even if it doesn't happen when you expect it to.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Heubach is a German company that produced highly collectible bisque and ceramic items from the mid 1900's until the early 1900's. They were known primarily for producing bisque doll heads but also produced a line of bisque figurines. Piano babies were the most popular of these figurines.
You need to be alert to these highly collectible figures. Look for the markings on the bottom of the figures. The impressed mark looks like a rising sun. They are also sometimes marked Germany. As always condition is very important. Make sure that they are free of the three C's; chips, cracks and crazing. Don't be afraid to step up on excellent condition figures. Babies like the one pictured can sell for several hundred dollars.
Avon bottles were one of the items that really lost in the Internet age. These novelties were sold with a perfume that could make the best of us sneeze until our eyes fell out onto the ground. They show up just about anywhere many of them still in their original boxes with, of course, the wonderful perfume still contained within. No matter how cheap they seem to be don't be tempted to buy them. These fall into the trash it column. Supply is high and demand is very low. So unless you need a gag gift for Christmas time.....
Sunday, April 25, 2010
How much will they pay? Well, I have sold vintage unused underwear (panties) for prices exceeding $400 a pair. Yes, I will repeat that over four hundred dollars a pair. Bra's typically sell for $50 to $200 each. It is important to note that this is for unused, mint condition undergarments. Buy it only when it is in perfect condition. Is there money in women's underwear (take your mind out of the gutter now)? An emphatic YES is the answer. Don't forget;
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Monday, April 12, 2010
Friday, April 9, 2010
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Auctioneers don't have to be smart, nor do they have to apparently be good photographers. This wonderful photo is part of an online auction that is currently being held. Shame on the auctioneer for putting on such a poor photograph. Presentation is going to be one of the major factors in the determining the final selling price. If this were a live (onsite) auction the lousy photo would not be acceptable, when its an online auction only, unspeakable.
People selling their own items on a website such as ebay can photo their items however they want. It is their own personal property and if they are willing to take a loss on it due to sloppy photography thats O.K.. In this case someone went out and hired a licensed auctioneer to sell their items. The auctioneer apparently convinced the seller that an online auction was the best option for them. I guess that they forgot to tell them about their inability to take a decent photo.
Choose your auctioneer well! Ability to call an auction is a small part of the job. Knowledge about what you are selling and obviously the ability to properly promote, in this case photograph the auction are extremely important. I may be leaving you under the impression that I am not happy about this poor example, you would be right. I guess this is an example of brutal honesty.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Sunday, April 4, 2010
Do you like the format? Do you have any suggestions on how and what you would like to see?
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Spread some chicken on the hill and get out your green weenie! Alright not all of us were fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates back in the 1970's but these would have been some of the things that you would hear when listening to Bob Prince announcing a Pirates game. Willie Stargell was one of the most prolific home run hitters of the time. In a day prior to steroid accusations when baseball ruled the airways, Willie, was a baseball hero.
Monday, March 29, 2010
And there it sat. That coveted antique that had been so carefully purchased 4 years before. I was now a 12 year old future entrepreneur with a dream of owning my very own whiskey jug. I eyed it wistfully hoping that somehow it would be mine. The price, a whopping $2.00 was well beyond my meager means. I paced, made countless inquiries and had the saddest looks that I could muster on my face. Finally my Aunt to took notice. She wouldn't just give it to me but she did reduce the price to the now affordable .25. The journey to my stash of cash was immediate. I produced a dime and three nickles for payment and that great treasure was now mine. I ran home and immediately and put it into my room, ecstatic over finally having it all to myself.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
What a weekend! I held two antique appraisal fairs, worked two major auctions and was interviewed for a morning television show. Today's story is about amphora pottery. A piece very similar to this turned up at the weekends appraisal fair. I was able to identify it as amphora and I properly appraised it $6-700. The question was raised on one of the marks found on the bottom of the vase. The unidentified mark was a simple BB. Although I did not know exactly what the marking was I assured its owner that finding out would be very simple.
There are days when it is beneficial to be lucky instead of good. The very next day while performing the auction duties at a very prestigious auction being held by Boardman Auction Gallery, guess what turned up...an amphora vase with the same exact markings on it. As luck would have it the auction company had already done my work for me. The piece was identified as being done by Bernard Bloch. Bernard was actively using this marking in the late 1800's. Then to make it even easier yet, the vase sold for $700 virtually assuring me that my appraisal was correct.
Dumb luck? Most likely. Sometimes it is great when things just work out. CASH IT IN at a high quality auction house to get the best results.