Thursday, June 4, 2015

Driving Down The Highway Of Pickers - Part 1

Mike Wolfe now has a blog of stories about picking.

He (or his staff) has called it "Two Lanes Blog."

I guess "A Pickers Journal" was taken...!  (More on that in a later post....)

Just click on that title to open a page to it, if you are so inclined.

And, no, I do not get any payments per click, referrals, mentions, or any other sort of compensation.

Thinking back, oddly enough, there were several of "us" (as  in pickers, dealers, etc) that "supported" Mike and the show when it first hit the airwaves. We certainly are not even half of why the show has done so well, but I'd like to think our enthusiasm, verbal support for, and word of mouth advertising for the show helped him get a firm footing on that creaky and fickle staircase to financial success and recognition.

I think the fact that "our profession" was finally being shown on TV as a legitimate business, and that we would (hopefully) now get some respect and acknowledgement from the general public, as well as the same from family members, most of which, being non "junkers", thought we were just weirdos, hoarders, eccentrics, garbage-pickers, etc.

It did accomplish that, and more.

Some of it was negative, some positive.

There has been growing pains, for sure.

We defended Mike when things appeared nasty.

Take for example, when Mike & Frank paid a "small amount" for a saddle (seems to me it was $75, or $20, something like that.)

Then an appraisal was done...and it was appraised at a 4 figure value!

 The fallout from the general public about that was nuts on the discussion boards of History Channel at the time. Those boards were taken down, and are likely no longer accessible anywhere. The hard drives with the data were  probably long shredded, too.

 "Crooks!", "thieves!", "scammers!" and assorted other not-so-complimentary as well as rather "blue" epitaphs were tossed at Mike & Frank  quite a bit, and had it been possible, some people were to the point of nearly burning them in effigy!

 Of course, being bound by contractual stuff for the show, and perhaps under advisement by legal counsel,  they didn't wade into the fray.

We (by "we" I mean various pickers, dealers, collectors and other experienced people of the antiques business) were the ones who dealt with that little shit-storm, and explained (and RE-explained X100) that all wasn't as it seemed, what the realities of this business are, pointed out the much higher mark-ups of assorted other resale businesses that they seemed to have no problems with, and the fact that it is business after all, so there has to be an appropriate profit margin involved.

We also pointed out that the seller himself quoted them the price  he wanted, which they paid.

One thing none of those "critics" really took into consideration was that, oddly enough, when put on the open market at auction, in this case eBay, it sold for not much more than they paid for it.

So, what about the appraisal of a 4 figure value?

The fact is, the appraisal wasn't at all accurate, for dried out, old saddle.

Basically the "appraiser" was basing his appraisal on what he knew and where his expertise happens to lie....

And that was with new & used working saddles.

 He was not an expert in antique & vintage saddles, nor antique western goods, nor Americana, nor decor items, etc,etc, etc...

SO, he had no background, nor knowledge as to the factors that actually makes some old/antique saddles valuable...and what makes others really just decorator items.

Anyway, back to Mike's blogging.

I am actually quite surprised it took this long for the "powers that be" to get him writing. I thought they would have pushed it right from the get go.

I wonder if he will be doing it himself, or if he is dictating, and has someone doing the typing, editing, etc?

He has the bucks to go that route, and I am sure his time tends to be limited, so he may be doing the blog posts on the fly, or someone else transcribes them from some other source he has, maybe somewhere he jots the stuff down, and someone else tidies it up, fixes grammar, spelling, etc?

He has done quite well for himself, and whatever you think of him, you do have to give him credit, he has worked hard, and is reaping the benefits.

Many of us, of course, also work very hard, maybe even some have worked harder  than Mike has,  and most of us haven't seen the same sort of success he has.

 Some pickers don't want the spotlight shone on them, for an assortment of reasons.

Some of us; yes, myself included, have tried hard to reach that level of success and recognition, but, for whatever assortment of reasons, haven't gotten that same sort of recognition.

"That's life."

"Luck of the draw."

"Just the way the cards are dealt."

Metal Man Mike is one I tripped across some time ago...just click on his name for his videos. I don't have any personal connection to him, but he is one of many characters around. He has one video on what not to do when approached by a production company, based on his personal experience.

Yes, I know I should have as many "picking" videos as he does. I never have gotten (yet) a "GoPro" type camera, and, well, getting bills paid has been more important.

I have a few videos, some badly produced, really shaky,and some, done by friends, are not bad.  One of the issues is the most interesting places I have picked can also be some of the most dangerous places...

So, I have to have both hands free...thus I don't want to be holding and aiming a camera!

Anyway, I guess a spotlight, recognition, Mercedes van, sponsor ships, substantial additional income, etc, is just not in the cards for some of us, or, perhaps, it is just not quite "our time."

I am not sure where my future lies, but wherever it lies, I am sure "old junk" of some sort will feature prominently!

Picking A Relationship - The Facts.

I've neglected the blog these past few month, as "life" has been "happening".

"Bear" with me, I will explain (yes, I do that lots, I know...!)

Being a picker/dealer here in Manitoba is not an easy task...that is, IF you wish to make your living at it.

There are maybe a dozen people in the entire province who make here living on buying and selling antiques & collectibles.  Part of the reason is that out of the  population of 1.272 million people Manitoba holds, is that they are spread out over a substantial area, though most live in the bottom third portion of the province, and half of the entire province's population lives in the capital city of Winnipeg.

I reside 2.5 hour's drive from Winnipeg, currently.

I won't go through the soap opera that has been my life (saving that to fill up several chapters of my autobiography...), but the most recent "big" news is that I have become "single" once again.

This business is hard on relationships, pure and simple. Between differences in personalities, interests, and the fact a picker's life is lived part on the road, part submerged in junk (on the road and at home), among a host of other activities, we basically live and breath our business.

It is a passion, and sometimes it consumes us, or in the least temporarily submerges us once and awhile.

If your spouse/partner is of the same mindset, complimentary personality, you both communicate very well (even if it is with no one else than your partner!) , love history, see gold in all the old stuff, have respect for one another, and all that goes along with the "junk biz", then you might actually have a chance of being together for a long time.

But, people change, and sometimes those changes create rifts, goals shift, passion is diverted, etc.

I have seen many relationships split due to those sorts of changes. Marriages break up when one partner's interests change dramatically away from "old stuff."  Your partner's passion has changed from antiques to horses, and you have zero interest in equines?

Well, prep for a divorce in your future.

I am  not saying that if you partner does not live, breath and eat their dinner without attic dust sprinkled on it that your relationship is doomed.  Having a complementary personality, interests, etc can work, but communication, respect, understanding, and such things are key to keeping it working.

Maybe one spouse loves dealing with the public, selling, being a shopkeeper, while the other is the "digger" of the two who sources merchandise, does some restoration, etc.

 That sort of relationship can work well, too.

I won't go into any major details about my relationship, as my life is not being lived as a public figure; though I know that "public figures" tend to have private lives we never hear about, also, which is the way it should be...despite what we are lead to believe by the "car crash" type Reality TV shows. Also, my ex also deserves privacy.

We are not in a battle, nor at each other's throats, we just came to the realization that we are not meant to be together. We gave it a shot, about 8 years worth, and are intelligent enough to know when to call it quits. I am making it sound easy, but it was not a quick and easy decision.

It was the right decision for both of us, however.

Anyway, my chosen lifestyle was certainly part of the reason we have split,  but it is far from the whole "reason", as life is not so easily cut and dried. Let's consider the word "reason" just a container for what is in actuality a "package of reasons."

She likes old stuff, but not in the same ways I do, nor with the same type of passion I do. To her credit, despite her having pared down her belongings to very little, and pretty much having just become "minimalist" in her living style when we got together, she jumped back into the "junk biz", though only "knee deep", which I felt was adequate, and we started a life together.

These things are always a half and half; that is, as far as any "blame", responsibility or causation for things not working goes. In some cases the "blame" may lean more to one side than another, but it is almost always not 100% one partner's fault.

In our case, I view it as a 50/50 split. I try to take full responsibility for myself. I always learn from each relationship, and I learn more about myself all the time. I deal with what I can fix in myself. I then hope to find someone else who is at the same point in their lives as I am, post experience and repair.

OK, that is enough philosophy, "mushy", and heart tugging  stuff for one year, don't you think?

And now it is time to go....