Sunday, December 11, 2011

PICKERS vs STORAGE AUCTION PEOPLE - the battle begins!

Just watched Glendon Cameron's latest video entitled "Storage Auction Tips - Storage Auction Buying Versus Picking"

 He does suggest that you start by "picking" to see if you can handle the business of buying and selling.

 First of all, I need to clarify the statement for him, I think....or rather, maybe for me and all of those professional pickers out there.

Ok, first picking is not for everyone, either.....picking antiques & collectibles, that is.

Let's sort things out a bit here....

There are all sorts of buyers people call "pickers"

There is the "garage sale picker." Out of them, I'd guesstimate that 95% (conservatively) are part timers....not real, professional, pickers, IMHO. Most people in the antiques business consider those sorts as "avid garage salers", not true pickers. Yeah, we do call them "garage sale pickers", but a "garage sale picker" is not a true professional picker.

Same goes with most thrift shop/second hand store pickers. Usually they are hobbyists, with another income which pays the bills. Sometimes that income is also connected to the vintage biz, but usually it is not. I have a lawyer friend who picks garage sales and thrift shops....but he is not a professional picker.

Now, most pickers I know who do this for a LIVING, do everything...garage sales, auctions, liquidations,  estate sales, advertise for stuff, give out flyer's, do cold calls (aka door knocking), and yes, they even hit storage locker auctions....among a number of less publicly well known ways to obtain merchandise. Some I may have mentioned here, others I have not, which I will save for a book...some are trade secrets of mine.

Now, things are QUITE A BIT different in my neck of the woods as far as "Storage Auctions" go. Folks relying on storage auctions for inventory would loose their shirts around here.


 Within a 5 hour's drive (radius) at highway speed, of where I live, there MIGHT be 4 storage unit auctions held each YEAR.  Until the "Storage Wars" and "Auction Hunters" got started airing the storage companies did things differently in this area.
The few times there was defaulted lockers, they would simply toss out the stuff, bring the stuff to auction houses or consign the contents with auction houses (who do the clean-out & pick-up the contens of the lockers)

The auction house would sell the stuff by the pallet if they (the auction house) felt it was junk, by the box if it was mediocre stuff, with the few good things pulled out and auctioned separate.....

OR if there was lots of decent stuff, it was set up like any other regular consignment auction, and most items were auctioned one by one!

 And for a few other eye openers....

Locally, gas is priced at $4.35 a gallon. Diesel is close to that (or MORE at times).

There was actually a diesel shortage in this area for a few weeks,, vehicles were only allowed so many gallons a week. And usually for most semitrucks that week's allotment lasted a day or 2 tops. Cube vans drink the stuff like crazy, too, as you may know.

Consider a 3 hour drive on the highway, against a Canadian prairie winter wind? No idea what that is like?

You can watch the fuel gauge needle drop...!  And you discover you have muscles that you didn't know you had....all at once cramping and in fire from wrestling the steering wheel against the cross winds, in order to keep the truck on the road.

 As you know, driving to many hours (and back) to go to a storage auction is not something you'd want to do much. Sure, if the odds are extremely in your favour to score a good unit, yeah, sure, you might take a chance...but, to do what "Auction Hunters" do and drive all "across the country" is not plausible for 99.89% of the players out there. If you have the inside track on some units coming up, their contents, the resale potential of the contents, (etc) maybe for the long time pro, with a super fuel efficient truck and time to spare........Odds are that doesn't happen much.

 Professional pickers are very versatile people.  We need to be to survive.

If I could pick just "advertising collectibles" and make a living, I would.

But, I can't. Yes, I am good at what I do...DAMN good. Best in the province according to many veteran dealers....the best in Western Canada, according to some even.

The thing is, there is just not enough of a ready collector market available, versus the expenses of finding the right items for resale to that market.

So, I became knowledgeable in a wide variety of things. I am not exactly a "Keno Brothers" sort of expert in any area, but my knowledge is decent, and in some areas it is better than the average advanced collector in those fields.

I will even pick up scrap metal, IF it makes sense, money & time wise, at that moment.  If I can buy a sign from an old garage/gas station, and they will gladly give me the "junk pile" in the back, consisting of 90% scrap radiators, catalytic converters, copper tubing, brass fittings, aluminum rims (etc), and I have the room in my will get loaded, because the odds are I will make far more on the "precious metal" scrap than I will the sign...

AND, going to to ask about the scrap out back is a PERFECT way to get your foot in the door, and conversation started...and a legit look at the hidden parts of the property.

So, the fact is, some pickers are ALSO professional storage auction buyers. 

No, Barry Weiss of Storage Wars fame is not a picker. Funny guy, is being the cool dude, and all that, but essentially he is a collector having some fun. Which is cool with me. He was a picker, possibly, but is not one at this juncture.

 If he was a professional picker now, the scenario likely would have been more along this line:

 He'd have bought the lockers, been careful sorting the contents (no smashing stuff, etc), pulled out the collectible stuff he had a market for or felt was worth researching, and sold the non-collectible second hand and modern stuff in a wholesale lot sort of deal (ie: the new buyer cleans the rest out) to another bidder or a second hand shop dealer he knows....maybe even partner up with a second hand dealer, in those cases....

And then off to another storage auction, estate sale, house call, cold call, scrapyard, etc, etc, etc!

Picking is about versatility, and sourcing your merchandise from where ever you can and being able to make a buck at the same time utilizing those sources.

Yes, you may see me "doing what I do best" at a:

Country Auction 
Farm Auction
City Auction
Surplus Auction
Industrial Auction
Bankruptcy Auction
Garage Sale
Estate Sale
Porch Sale
Yard Sale
Liquidation Sale
Liquidation Company's store
Flea Market
Antique Shop
Second Hand Shop
Thrift Shop
Storage Auction
Vault Auction
Salvage Auction
Pre-Demolition Sale 
Pre-Demolition Auction
Salvage Store
Surplus Store
Scrap Yard
Salvage Yard
Auto Wreckers
Dollar Store
Hardware Store
Grocery Store
Lumber Yard
Recycling Yard
Recycling Depot
Trash Dump
Back Lane
River Bank
Dry River Bed
Open Field
Gas Station
Apartment building
Office Building
Manufacturing Plant
Storage Unit
Rock Pile
Gravel Pit
Grain Elevator
Drug Store
Military Base
Gun Show
Movie Props sale
Church Sale
Resort Town in Mexico
Small town
Funeral Home
Pawn Shop
Plumbers Office
Insurance Agency
Coffee Shop
Railway Depot
Railway Auction

The look on some of your faces were priceless when you got to different parts of the list...but, they are all places I have picked, and many I do pick.

Plus the list is far from actually goes on, and on, and on. Not to mention it grows longer as I add to the list. I am always seeking unrecognized "treasure" in all sorts of places.

I think outside the box...and inside the box, and under the box, and above the box, at the corner of the box, and...

You get the picture.

1 comment:

  1. That's very cool. I've actually never heard of being a "picker". I've been to several storage auctions, and they are all over my area, maybe you should try, it's a great place to find auctions near you.