Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Dirt and Dust - Ramblings of a Canadian Prairies Antiques Dealer

(****Note to readers: This article was originally written for The Country Register - Manitoba & Saskatchewan Edition - And was published in their October-November 2011 Issue)

****** The Dirt and Dust - Ramblings of a Canadian Prairies Antiques Dealer ******

I am a picker.

No, no, no, not of noses, nor of berries or other fruits!

If you are an antiquer, auction goer, junk lover, etc, you may be a fan of one or more of the many reality TV shows geared towards "picking".

Yes, I am one of those...a real, genuine picker.

"Reality TV" is really a misnomer, especially when it comes to the antiques business. Television, being the animal it is, does not allow for continual spontaneous events, reactions, etc. For every face you see on those shows, there is a release to get signed. There are more people on each site than just the hosts and camera person on the site, and the pick-ees. Add to that the schedules that need to be kept, deadlines to be met, etc, the "reality" of reality TV is that many things have to be staged, with some events more often staged than others.

Sure, they do find some fantastic stuff, and that is likely not staged (in most cases), but what we do not see are the oodles of "regular" and less "camera worthy" finds.

So, the reality of picking antiques is not portrayed accurately on TV...and with good reason. Ratings would certainly go into the toilet if they featured a show based on a picker buying stacks and stacks of Royal Albert china on each pick, and flipping the purchases to a dealer specializing in such material.

In "real life", a picker has bills to pay, so handling the boring stuff is required...but is not exactly interesting and exciting.

The TV shows make it look oh-so-easy, and even glamorous!

Frankly, the reality of picking antiques for a living is far from the TV ideal. However, that said, it still can be darn interesting, and even a heck of an adventure!

So, that now brings me to a quick intro as to who I am and what I am about. I have been a professional picker/dealer for over 20 years, and have operated under the business name of "Fedora Antiques & Collectibles" for much of that time. I have had retail stores in Winnipeg, for a combined total of about 10 years or so. I've been involved in all aspects of the business, from picking and wholesaling, to auctions, to doing garage sales, clearing estates, etc, etc, etc.

I do write a blog, at www.pickersjournal.blogspot.com, for those of you who are online, and wish to read more of my babbling. Yes, I have also been writing for awhile, but being a writer tends to pay even less than the antiques business!

Anyway, I did go to a show recently, just to do some shopping, networking, and, of course, some socializing! The "Dunrea Flea Market" was held at Boissevain, MB on Sept 4th. A flea market style show, a really country fair sort of event, which grows every year since its inception. It was chock full of antiques, as well as some craft sellers, veggie & produce booths and the odd "new" merchandise tables, perfect to distract your non-junker friends/relatives while you hunt for treasure. It has built up a pretty decent following in crowd and vendors. This year it had over 75 vendors, and with most vendors having at least 2 tables, and many with 3 tables, there was easily over 200 tables worth of antiques, collectibles and other items to tempt your wallet! It is certain to increase in table numbers next year, and some would argue that it is poised to become the best antiques show in Manitoba. It certainly has great potential to mimic the successes of some of the eastern Canadian and US outdoor/indoor combination shows. With its proximity to the border, US buyers will likely arrive in larger numbers, once their economy stabilizes. I saw some interesting items, and overall, most items were pretty reasonably priced for collectors, decorators, etc. As a dealer I managed to buy a number of items, most of which I will make money on, and some of which I sold a couple days after buying them. There were a few items that I would have likely bought if I was stock poor, as there was much that was priced so there was a decent amount of room to make a few bucks. I saw a few pieces I would have liked to add to my own collections. But, alas, cash is tight these days. Had it not been so tight, I would have splurged and bought a dozen items, as the prices for those items were certainly far from out of line, and I was surprised they were even still available a couple hours into the show. One item I saw that had contemplating my finances was a tin sign from Soo Line Mills of Winnipeg, advertising their flour.

***** photo of that sign coming as soon as I can access my old hard drive! *****

 I am partial to advertising, signs in particular, and I do have a soft spot/desire to preserve Manitoba business related vintage signage. This sign would have made any sign collector swoon. Great colors, great graphics, fantastic condition, great subject matter, it had lots going for it. Price was darn decent at under $300. There was some, but not lots of room to make money as a dealer, but it was still a sweet price for any serious collector.

I will also be attending a show in Winnipeg, likely as a vendor, which is being held at Assiniboia Downs on the west perimeter. That is right, you don't even have to go into the city, but there are also some great shops to check out, so if you go and have some time after the show to haunt some of the antiques shops, do it!

This particular fall show has been held by the Grand Trunk Toy & Nostalgia club for a number of years, and features a wide variety of antiques & collectibles. There is always a vast selection, and something suitable for most every level of collector and budget.

I shall cut it off there, as I am close to my column's limit for space, but I could babble on and on..as you may find I do on occasion!  Happy hunting, folks!

****Note to readers: This article was originally written for The Country Register - Manitoba & Saskatchewan Edition - And was published in their October-November 2011 Issue  

If you would like to see my columns published in your area's editions of The Country Register, contact the publishers of the paper in your locality!