The Needle (Picking for items in the Haystack)

This is a great site, I’m building a site that needs a pickers expertise! I’m an internet picker, I can find a lot of obscure things reasonably quickly and have built a website that allows people to post things they are looking for, and asks the community to help find it for them. I’ve added a finders fee feature to “make it worth the effort”…. My site is only a few months old as well and gaining some momentum. It’s really cool to be able to find these niche things for them. I guess pickers can be seekers to, and the more people that can help build your collection the better. I’m bookmarking your page, love it.

Alex –

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Taking Children Picking

Today my wife and I took our three grandchildren with us to an estate sale. It was interesting. There were a few times where it was like trying to herd a bunch of kittens. I’m sure it bothered many of the other pickers there. Actually, my grandson did something interesting. He likes to do magic card tricks. He found a small leather wallet with some cards and dice, etc. He saw it earlier downstairs, and when he kept thinking about it, and said he wanted it, I told him to go back down and get it. He got it, we paid for our stuff, and when we get home, I said, “Let’s take a look at what you bought”. I opened the package, and found the cards were still sealed, with tissue, and had an Internal Revenue Service “Playing Cards” postage like stamp sealing the package. Beneath the tissue paper, you could easily read “Buy United States Savings Bonds” He did better today than I did!

My granddaughter found a gold Cross pen and pencil set, with gold University of Utah logos on them. The logos were manufactured by O.C. Tanner Company. They make gold jewelry and items like this. SHE did better than me today too!.

I am either creating a monster or another generation of quality antique pickers. I am also creating my own competition! What do you think about taking small children out collecting?

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Collecting Niches

It seems that the weirdest and most narrow fields of interest can yield the best and most interesting collections. My wife started years ago, collecting “snowmen” any time I found a vintage looking or ugly looking or weird little snowman, I’d grab it for her. I was her snowman picker. Now every Christmas, she has an amazing snowman tree full of unique and some very old and classic pieces. It has grown beyond the tree to an entire bookcase
and the tree full of snow people. It is a pleasure to look at. We have grand kids that marvel at the scenes.

I collect old radios, and some old radio “niches” ie I collect tubes, and I collect early radio advertising and radio parts advertising items. Do you see how you can become more and more specialized into tiny little branches within your main field? The finer the niche, the more unique and interesting and valuable your collection can be!

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What Do You Want? or Do? or Sell?

I’d like to create on this site a resource for pickers. If you have a particular want, like: “I collect early pocket calculators” or: “early medical quack devices wanted” or any number of weird stuff, I’d like to know. Send me your information, and I will add it to a link for picker’s resources. We could list by type, locality, etc.

We are always looking for stories. Describe your passions, Give some good tips, and lore. Tell about your favorite finds, and places to find. Please help us pass the word on, by linking to us.

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Kissing Toads

Someone I met once, another dealer said, “You need to kiss an awful lot of toads to be able to find a prince”. He used this as slogan when picking. You have to visit many many sales in order to find one or two good items. This also goes for new products, leads, and stories. Just being active in this, you will find out many things by people bragging, or conversing. If you advertise, even with a simple business card, you will get leads. It could be as simple as “I Buy XXX” and your name and cell phone number. Tell friends what you collect or buy. One day your prince or princess will come!

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Is your Local Newspaper Classifieds Dead?

As an antique picker, I used to live by what was in the newspaper yard sale, garage sale, estate sale, ads. Everything has changed. The local paper is old news when it comes to estate sales. Most of my information is found online. Craigslist and other sites have all the ads. Even if there happens to be a dealer or a family who place an ad in the paper, you’ll find it online first. It’s too bad. Actually, it’s too bad the paper does not list yard sales, garage sales, and estate sales for free. The only reason they are online, and not in the paper, is people are cheap, and so they seek “free”. Free internet ads have replaced the printed classifieds. If they had free classifieds for these categories, I’d subscribe. I’m sure many others would too. While they are at it, come up with some better categories instead of mixing all the estate sales with the yard sales.

We have a local radio and TV station that has had free ads for as long as the internet has been around. People here really use the service. It’s almost like a local ebay for free. Check in your area and see if something similar is happening.

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Things Are Getting Weird!

I went to an estate sale in town today, thinking I would be arriving early. HA! I was number 63 in line, and people were lining up way behind me. This was for a tiny little old house. There were so many people crowded in there it was scary. It was good I have a cold and cannot smell today, we were all too close. I think with all the shows on TV and blogs like this telling people about all the wonders of picking, we are creating a monster! It is February, and very few sales are being advertised, so maybe everyone just wanted to get out for a Saturday sale, and this was all there was. I noticed the regular pickers, the dealers, who hit all the sales. I noticed a large bunch of amateurs.

I found a set or series of books that I wanted, and I believe that just “because I was interested” some other guy thought they must be good too, so he started stripping off the same shelf, the same series. He probably did not even know what they were, but new I was very interested in them.

I have two small dogs. They eat ravenously when they are together. If one seems to like it, the other will eat and fight competitively too, just because of the other’s interest. This guy kinda ticked me off. I could tell he was an amateur. Oh well, I still did pretty well considering the crowd. But, I really wanted to get out of there fast. I was getting claustrophobic! If the fire department came by, they would kick everyone out, and site the sale company for a violation, I’m sure.

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You Need to Become and Expert!

Becoming an expert can be easier than it sounds:
1. Be interested in something. Have a thirst for more knowledge on the topic.
2. Know it’s “application” This could be need or resource motivated.
“Need” example: My son wants to play guitar… Learn about brands, Fender, etc, Amps, Tube Amps, Reverbs, etc. You will become an expert…
“Resource” example: The area you live in could have been the original manufacturing site for; marbles, or radios, etc. A prime resource for collecting items in this special field. You will become an expert…
3. You find something good! When you do, you research it, and find out more about the topic. You will see more again later, and now know more about it. You will become an expert…
4. Instant “expert” Sometimes just listening to other pickers waiting in line to go into a sale, or when they are bragging outside about what they found makes you start being an expert. Your natural curiosity will take over. You will become an expert…
These things will open more doors for you!

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I’d Like to Follow You Around …

I was having a conversation with my wife’s aunt one day about searching for antiques and collectibles to collect and sell online. I suppose I was too exuberant and a little boastful about some of my better deals. I had had a successful run on ebay for a few months. I was actually pretty surprised at what I had been able to sell, and how much money it was bringing in! As we talked, she made the comment, “Oh, I wish I could follow you around someday and see how you do it!”

This got me thinking. It would probably be impossible for her or anyone else to figure out what I was doing just by following me around and watching me. I see stuff that I immediatly know about, because:
1. I have or have had one. I’ve sold one before. Or, I’ve needed one.
2. I have seen it online or in one of the many magazines or catalogs I receive. Research.
3. Personal collections I’ve seen.
4. Museums I have visited.
5. Trade shows I have attended.
6. My work or professional background and experience.
7. My hobbies, interests, and tastes.
8. Books I have read.
9. My superior intelligence…
10. All the deals, and people I know, etc. Years and years…

Let this be a lesson for new or learning pickers. Knowledge is power. Read, research, be interested in various topics, becoming an expert.

If you worry and wonder if other pickers are going to follow you around getting your secrets and find all the stuff you hope to get, think again. Think of all the times you go somewhere and DON’T see that guy. You have different venues, a different time-table, etc. Even if they were right behind you, chances are pretty good they would not have a clue of the things that you find interesting or valuable.
I believe this world if full, and there is enough stuff for everyone. Then, in this business, they die, and someone sells it again. You won’t have enough money to buy everything good you see. Your truck is not big enough. Your basement, garage, storage unit, and warehouse is never going to be big enough.

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My Early Days Before Ebay, How I Lost 1000’s of Dollars Not Using Ebay!

I started selling and buying on Ebay several years ago. I delayed doing this for, I don’t know, laziness I suppose. One major experience showed me what I was missing, and taught me a major lesson.

I drove out of state with some friends to an estate of an avid camera collector. I ended up with a very nice vintage camera collection. There were early Leicas, and early medium format cameras, and lots of classic gear. I did keep what I thought was the best part of the collection, and took dozens of collectible cameras to a camera “picker number one”. He selected about a dozen cameras, high-grading me, and I made my money back on the collection. I felt pretty smart, after all, I got to keep the good stuff for free, sold a bunch, got my money back, and have more cameras to sell! So then I went to another camera “picker number two” This guy hates picker number one, and was disgusted when he heard the the other picker got some before he did. But, he bought the rest from me. and I made a whole bunch more money! Boy was I smart! On the way out of his home, I noticed on his desk a computer printout from Ebay. It was easy to remember his seller name, so I became curious. about a week later, I notice all of these cameras I had sold him were listed! Cool! I’ll see how much they sell for. To my surprise, and later anguish, the auctions ended, and I saw he made over $700 profit on the cameras I sold him! Now, he got third look, I kept the first group, sold the second group, and he got the rest, and still profited $700! What in earth did I sell to “Camera Picker Number One”. I immediately signed up for Ebay, and started selling, and one of my first sales was for a set of salt and pepper shakers made in Japan, I got $175 for them, you gotta be kidding me!

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