Learn The Language


     Everyone’s process will be different. How you choose your items may not be the same as how I do it. Here’s two things that I have found to be very helpful.

    One of my favorite things to watch, on the rare occasions I watch tv these days, is a show on BBCAmerica called “Bargain Hunt.” Here’s the condensed version: Two teams of two people get £200 to spend on any items they like. They then sell them at auction, and whichever team makes the most profit wins. One of the things that the Experts have said multiple times is “If you like it, odds are someone else will too.” It never fails, if I buy something for the shop that I really like, and won’t mind having it sit around for a bit, it’ll sell quickly. Because well, I liked it, and someone else did too. 

    John Kirk, author of “The Impecunious Collectors Guide to American Antique Furniture” says, let it speak to you. For that to happen, you need to learn to speak the language. So, just study something for a bit. Don’t try to force a connection, if that piece has nothing to say to you, move on. You can’t stand and stare at it all day. If it’s not talking, don’t try to make it.

    I have found both these strategies to be extremely helpful. For instance, once I found a small bisque lady, tucked inside a jewelry box. She shouted at me. I looked down and there she was, half buried under some strands of beads. I left with her.

    Your process might be different, and that’s okay. No two people in this business will do things the same way. It takes time, and along with some self study and a bit of experience you’ll find a process that works for you in no time. 

    Since I brought up experience, that has something to do with it too. Now, experience tells me, if I find a vintage Stanley thermos with a cork stopper that it it’s at least 40’s, and, if I can get it for a good price, I can flip it for some profit. 

    I highly recommend reading lots of books. Books are the best source of knowledge next to the world wide web. Yeah, I know. I’m a mom on the net. But my kid has fur and four feet. And he’s amazing. 

    Back on track, I’ll include a list of recommended reading, which I will suggest that you check back to frequently. I’ll be updating. Some of the titles are business related, others are more anecdotal. I’ve found them to be helpful nonetheless, and I hope that you can too.

Brooke Gilbert