Welcome to the crossroads on the back roads of this landscape called the Junk Biz!
Get in the passenger seat, and you can get a close view of what I am seeing.
Let's go straight up the main road...not right nor left down those side roads...perhaps we'll get to them later.
The road straight ahead, the one well traveled, well, we all know it goes where everyone else has already gone. Been there...done that.
A general consensus that adds up to Meh.
So, how about turning right or left, down one of those other roads?
In picking circles, the road less traveled, is the one we'd likely take when looking for treasures...after all, the less people who have gone down it, the more likely we are to find treasures everyone else has missed, right?
The problem with that scenario is that often it doesn't end up anywhere...well, anywhere except perhaps a dead end on to an lonely expanse of field....and no viewership...and you might get stuck, and a long walk to the nearest town....and have to pay a significant towing bill.
Once and awhile it might end up in discovering a wealth of treasure that may end up making you some good money....but let me tell you a fact:
The odds are simply not in your favor.
Production companies and their backers/accountants aren't happy with random risk, no matter how interesting it looks from the passenger or driver's seat. Unmapped territory is not for the feint of heart...or those who are at all risk adverse.
Veteran pickers aren't happy with that scenario, either. We do tend to be adventurous, but we're not stupid. We don't toss our cash away, either.
Usually there is a method to what seems like madness. Most times there has been research into the route or at least the general area to back up our seemingly random, convoluted route. Like a veteran picker and a good production company/producer both should realize that maybe some serious, heavy duty research is in order, to maximize the potential of that road less traveled....and to get off the same congested, worn, and tourist trap ridden route everyone else is on. Find some fresh territory, and potentially get on to a fresh pick where no one else has been, and one which is lucrative, and you can bank on for a long time.
A good picker will consult the locals, and others familiar with the territory. They know they can improve their odds of doing well with more information gleaned by talking to those who know these back roads well. The locals who know the unwritten history, unrecorded stories, and referrals from locals who the picker has treated with respect, get to know, treat well and end up get references from...and may even gain friends who show them around from place to place, introducing them as a person who can be trusted.
This tends to result in great success buying from those who would never have let you on their properties, let alone sold you those great folk art whirligigs their uncle carved in the 1930s....and they even told you the story behind each one.
You could just drive down that unknown road. It might even seem like a good idea at first, and it sometimes is a fun time, you may have a little success, even.... but most times it is simply a waste of time...where you end up turning around...and you could get first stuck or just entirely lost.
So, let's stop at this little restaurant...no, not the trendy one with the $7.00 lattes you like...the one across the street, the one that the long time locals frequent...better coffee there, anyway!
Time to do some research.
Oh, and yes, I do have some old maps with me, and I did get a tip from a former resident of this area...told me the name of a guy to ask about...have your coffee, and I'll do some research...No, I'm not wasting time talking to those "geezers"...their stories are better than most history books you will read...granted, some of their stories are fiction......
OK, let's get back on the road. Our odds are far better....now that I have talked with the locals, got a few extra leads, a few referrals, additional info, had some details corrected, etc.. I did some research at home, some time ago. I admit, I am also a little familiar with the area, as I did some picking while on a trip to follow up another lead, which took me down this same main road. Plus I talked to a local, who referred me to another resident who moved here some time ago....and I heard rumor of this fellow from an old school picker I talked to a few years back....who passed through this area once, before this well traveled road was "well traveled"......well, let's just say I have a hot lead as a result of all the info I have compiled...
So, when we get about a mile down this road, we'll let's take this left turn, instead of that right towards that barn we initially thought was intriguing.....it is empty as empty can be, from the information I confirmed, while we were at the old cafe.
And a turn....and on to this gravel road.....
Doesn't look like much out here, does it?
But look over my way.........
Now, let's see....
I was told me to turn to the right...
towards the white pick-up truck...
Cool.....check out what is around this bend...!
.... an old prairie village!
Check out the "parked vehicles"....
AND, get this, I found out the entire village is owned by one person!
You know that "weird looking geezer" you referred to? (His name is Samuel, by the way.) I met Sam last time I was through that town. I wasn't aware he was as wealthy as he is...turns out he bought stocks in a company years and years ago, which shortly after was bought by International Business Machines, just when they were starting to buy out other firms. He sold them at their peak...did very well, apparently. Anyway, he told me that everything in this place was all just "old junk" to him. He bought it all, lock stock and barrel for $1.00 at a municipal tax sale, back in the 1960s!
I told him I was a serious buyer, but he waved his weathered hand at me, and said he'd refuse to take a dime for anything. I thought he was brushing me off, but then told me he was just happy someone might actually want and make use of some of it....and I can have whatever I want from the place.....right down to the buildings themselves, IF I can move them..or parts of them!
And our timeline to get the stuff?
Get this!!! He said to take my time, he is in no hurry to demolish any of the places. For future picking stops I just have to call ahead to him or his niece (the waitress you didn't leave a tip for...not very classy, by the way, dude) so he can make sure the access road isn't blocked off by the derelict vehicles he normally puts across the road.
Anyway, the point is:
When you talk to the right people,
Do some proper research,
Treat people well and with respect,
Make some real friends in the area,
Have gained experience in the business,
Network with people in the area and/or are familiar with the area yourself,
...you can discover some hidden gems in places you would not expect them to be....which in the short AND long term can be highly profitable. The fun you will have is included for free...even though obviously there will be still hard work to do along the way.
*** A Note/Confession ***Ok, ok, ok, some of you long figured out that the tale end details of a village full of stuff offered up for free is an unlikley sort of scenario..."a picker fantasy" as it were...! Imagination took over as far as the final details of this little drive down the back roads go. Yes, of course the story is essentially fiction, though not at all inaccurate as to the various experiences a veteran picker has on a trip....save for a village full of stuff for free.....
OF COURSE I am still looking for that kind of place!
OH YES, I DO have leads, information, details, stories, rumor, (and even solid locations!) of similar places such as the long abandoned, never picked old village as I described. Yes, I am serious....no, I am not pulling your leg.
Hopefully they will all turn out to be their own stories, blog postings, etc....for sure will hit some dead ends, false leads, wild goose chases, etc, and some will be mediocre, average picks...and some may be absolute "motherloads" of cool stuff....but their stories are still have yet to be experienced...and those experiences is what I love...well, finding a treasure or 2 helps, too!
An FYI, regarding the photos: They are of places I have actually seen, from trips I have been on, places I located using the skills (etc), which I skiffed over and sketched out above.
The story above may be fiction, but you will read many equally intriguing true incidents and stories in this blog...Yes, my life as it is. I am a real picker....snippets and moments in the life of someone who lives and breathes "The Junk Biz."