Picking with Reyne

Picking with Reyne – Vol 15 – By Reyne Haines

August 18th, 2010 by

Recently I had the chance to attend the Alameda Point Antiques Faire in Alameda, California.  I had heard about the show from friends and thought I’d check it out personally.

Can you say “Pickers Paradise?”

The first thing I noticed was the size of the show.  On this particular day there were about 900 dealers exhibiting.

The show opens to the die- hard buyers at 6am (please note, this is no longer me!)  It costs a little more (entry fee) to get in that early, but is worth the investment.  Bring your flashlight!

The next thing that caught my attention was the varied array of merchandise.  Inexpensive to WOW!  American, Italian, French, German, etc.  Victorian, Modern and everything in between can also be found.

I spoke with Allen Michaan, the show promoter, who mentioned the show is vetted.  This I found surprising.  What an undertaking!  According to Michaan, everything must be pre-1970.  He spends his day looking to make sure the dealers all follow the rules.  If anything newer is found, he insists the dealer must put it away.  Anyone setting up with a full booth of new items is asked to leave.

This is a plus for dealers and buyers alike.  The dealers like keeping the show standard, as they know quality merchandise equates to more sales.  Buyers hate digging through new things to find the old.  It won’t take long for customers of a show to spread the word when merchandise falls short of their expectations.

It was reported that over 10,000 visitors attended the show that day, and might I add they came to shop.  You saw plenty of people carrying bags (not just myself), armfuls of smalls and wheeling large pieces of furniture to their cars.  I saw a lot of things I wanted to buy, including the prop for The Wizard of Oz (the Wicked Witch of the West’s legs!) and I also saw someone carrying them out!

The show is open one day a month.   As a dealer, you love this. It’s a lot of work setting up and tearing down all in a day, however, you know the people that attend the show come to buy. They know they have little time to make up their mind and execute a purchase.

Alameda Pointe Antiques Faire is held the first Sunday of every month.  The dealers come from near and far, so don’t expect to see the sale local dealer merchandise at the show you’ve seen in shops around the Bay area.

For more information, visit their website at:  ww.antiquesbybay.com

Picking with Reyne – Vol 14 – By Reyne Haines

August 9th, 2010 by

This was an exciting week in the world of picking.  CNN first reported a guy who was a garage sale enthusiast who had purchased a set of negatives some years ago for $45.00.

Recently the buyer took a closer look at them and thought they might be something. He showed them to an unnamed appraiser, only to be told they were the works of Ansel Adams and worth $200 million dollars.

Now, I can only imagine how visions of new cars, homes and trips around the world were running through his mind. I know they would be if it was me (ok, maybe visions of Christian Louboutin’s, a vintage Corvette, and a home on the ocean…)

In the meantime, the press catches wind of the story and reaches out to Ansel Adams grandson who reviews them and does not believe they are the works of his grandfather.

The owner of the negatives plans to setup a website to sell prints of the images on the negatives  for $45 for a poster and $7500 for a darkroom print.  The managing director for the Ansel Adams Publishing Trust is considering suing the buyer for using a copyright name for commercial purposes.

We’ve all had finds over the years we’ve thought were something, only to find out later they were a clever fake.  Whether is a reproduction piece of furniture, a lamp, or a painting…you have to be careful.  Take the time to do due diligence before buying, or making a claim like this owner has. That initial $45 investment might end up costing him millions before it’s all said and done.

Tell us your stories of great finds that turned out to be great duds here!


The Art of Picking – Vol 13 – By Reyne Haines

July 26th, 2010 by

How can a good yard sale item quickly diminish to bad? When you are Vaneisha Robinson of Ohio.

Robinson claims four years ago she bought a pendant at a yard sale for $5.  She thought it was neat, and wore it around her neck not realizing its value.

The pendant is a replica of LeBron James’ jersey for the Kings. It is enameled, and encrusted in diamonds.

Robinson claims only a few months ago did she notice the diamonds were set like authentic ones are, and decided it might have more value than the $5 she invested.  She took photos, and listed it on eBay.

Shortly thereafter, Robinson was contacted by someone from James’ camp claiming he wanted the item for himself and asked to meet her.

When she arrived at the meeting place, James was not there, however one of his associates was and “forced her to hand over the pendant.”

Police in Ohio have her listed as one of five people in connection with the theft of the pendant valued at over $10,000.  The case is currently still under investigation.

Picking with Reyne – Vol 12 – By Reyne Haines

July 16th, 2010 by

To continue with picking storage units, I thought I’d give you a peek inside a day of one of my pickers…

Yesterday he was the lucky bidder for this storage unit:

From the average person’s eye, this looks like a whole lot of junk right?  Would you pay $50 for all of this?  Before you are quick to judge, let’s take a look at what was tucked away in all those garbage bags…

Rule # 1 – Never leave food or trash in storage units.  Mice will get to them and then you will have bags with holes, and dead rats!

Rule #2 – Silver doesn’t stand up to temperature and humidity well!

Rule #3 – If you were hoping to pass down the family china, you might want to pay your bill.  (Notice the Wedgwood porcelain in the image?)

Over time, he has found a great array of designer brand items kept in storage units.  Maybe this will be more than just a bag!

Rule #4 – Unless in a climate controlled unit, you might want to leave artwork of all kinds somewhere else.  With the heat and humidity, this print has probably acquired foxing, and other paper issues which could greatly depreciate the value.

Ahhh, reward!  Hopefully the movement is still in good working order!

All in all, this wasn’t a bad buy.  Lots of garbage and furniture to toss, but the porcelain (Wedgwood, Nippon, Bavaria), there was a piece of Roseville pottery, the clock and a few misc pieces of furniture will net him around $800+

Not bad for a $50 investment!

Happy Hunting!


Picking with Reyne – Vol 11 – By Reyne Haines

July 12th, 2010 by

Over the years I’ve heard about people buying unclaimed storage units. I often wondered why anyone would bid on something like that…until recently.

Had I really given it any thought, I would have figured it out. People rent storage facilities for things they have no place for, but have enough value to warrant you to keep them.

It also dawned on me, that depending on the size of the storage facility, the difference in how much they were paying each month. So, you’d at least have an idea of the value of the items in the unit by how long they had it, and how much they had paid. For example, I lived in New York for 4 yrs. I didn’t want to move all of my furniture to New York from Houston at the time, along with boxes of my great grandmothers fine china, some older stuffed animals, records, etc. If you think about how much I paid in monthly rent for 4.5 years…well…you see where I am going with this.

Now before you rush out and start bidding on this week’s storage lots, keep in mind its not all fine antiques and vintage cars kept in those places.

Last week, a picker friend of mine bought a box of Ferragamo shoes, a pair of authentic Louis Vuitton trunks, and an array of Chanel, Hermes, and Missoni clothing (thanks so much for the great buys!)
A friend of his found a pair of “Blue Dog” paintings (yes, I still want them when he makes up his mind on price).

Another buyer wound up with a car, and a dead body. I kidd you not. Fortunately he had not paid for the unit when the body was discovered. Yes, he would have forfeited his money had he.
I think you should keep in mind the location of the units (what part of town), how long have they been renting, and some even let you peer in (not dig through) the units before bidding.

I’d love to hear your storage unit stories…post them here if you would!

Happy Hunting!


Picking with Reyne – Vol 10 – By Reyne Haines

July 2nd, 2010 by

Mark your calendars for August 5 – 8th. Set aside whatever you think you should be doing, check the oil and tires on your car, load up and head out to Hudson, Michigan, or Gadsden, Alabama, whichever is closest.

The stretch of road down US-127 is the Ultimate Collector Destination. This 675 mile highway becomes “The World’s Longest Yardsale” during those dates.

Originally, the idea of having the long yard sale was to bring visitors to the less traveled highways of Tennessee and Kentucky. It has grown considerably from its humble beginnings in 1987.

This event has become so popular; it even has its own Facebook page!
Rachel Ray’s show covered it in 2008 – click here to see:

A few things to make sure you bring with you should you hit the highway:

1. Bring cash – many people won’t take checks or credit cards. There is often no cell service in the rural parts of US127 and therefore credit card machines, etc will not work. Plus, as we all know in this business, cash talks!

2. Handi-wipes are your friends. I hate to say it, but you’re going to get a little dirty digging through all the goodies in search of your diamond.

3. Packing containers and wrap: You don’t want to buy something great and have it rolling around in your vehicle. Bring boxes, bubble wrap, newspaper, etc so that your finds are safely stored until arriving home.

4. Reference guides – as I said earlier, cell service is not always available, so if you are hoping to use the Internet browser to search for values, you might be out of luck in some places. Bring your reference guides for backup!

5. Your patience – the traffic can be horrible. Bring an extra bottle of patience and if you find yourself running low – stop by one of the food vendors, grab a bite to eat, visit with others there dining and your mood will be back to happy in no time!
Do you live along this highway? Have you ever shopped and scored? I’d love to hear your stories from this once a year hot spot.

Happy Hunting!


Picking with Reyne – Vol 9 – By Reyne Haines

June 28th, 2010 by

Knowing what sells best from one place to another can greatly help you in your antiquing adventures.

For example, if you happen to be a buyer of Depression Glass or American Art pottery such as Roseville or Rookwood, picking in Ohio would be the way to go.  Both items were made in that region, so it can easily be found in flea markets and yard sales.

This can also be a little tricky.  The common pieces can often be found for a song, but because the items are made in that region, people are also pretty knowledgeable about their values, so the rarer colors, patterns, artists, shapes can also be found, but only purchased at a retail price.

The same can be said for visiting markets in New York. You might be more apt to find European antiques, as many people relocated to New York from abroad over the last 100 years.

The same would not be said for areas like Alabama, Mississippi, Texas or Louisiana.  Instead, you would find French antiques, great silver, Southern art, and also black memorabilia.

Try to keep these same thoughts in mind when hunting new areas.  Meaning, if you are in California on a picking adventure, and you come across a painting by let’s say a New Hope, PA artist, you might be able to buy it for a song.  That artist wouldn’t be as desirable as it would be if it was selling in the region the artist was from.

This can also apply when buying from one region to the next.  For example, Scandinavian mid century modern items sell very cheaply abroad, yet command strong prices here in the US.  For years, many American dealers have traveled across the pond loading up containers full of European antiques to sell for a handsome price at their stores and at shows in the US.

What do you find selling strongly in your region?


Picking with Reyne- – Vol. 8 – By Reyne Haines

June 21st, 2010 by

American PickersNext weekend is the summer antique market at the Red Barn in Round Top, Texas.  I’m excited about going!  The summer fairs are often smaller, have less customers, but you can often find people more willing to deal.

(Note to everyone: summertime is always slow in the antiques world – what a great time to try to strike up a bargain on some of those items you have been considering buying)

One of the aspects of the world of picking I love so much are the stories.  I can never get enough of the excitement someone expresses when telling about a hot find.

My friend Ed Akers whom I’ve never met but have conversed with online (isn’t the Internet great?) for years told me about a find he had in Florida.

“I was garage saling one Saturday for cool finds for my antique biz and found this vase. The person was only asking $7.00, I asked if the would take $5.00 and they agreed.

The vase is a Bauer design by Russell Wright.

Ed went on to tell me, “I have seen pillow vases by Russell Wright selling on ebay for $300 – $600. I even found where this style was offered at $1200.

It just goes to show the deals are still out there to be found.

Another friend of mine (who asked to be anonymous) just scored a bargain at Rago’s Great Estates Auction; a sculpture by a contemporary artist that they could not identify. It was by Hollis Fingold, an artist who she happened to be quite the fan of. The sculpture cost her $150.


I’d like to propose a challenge to my readers. Who is the ultimate picker? Who can take the least amount of money and turn it into the most? Or if not the least amount of money, who can create the greatest amount of return on the cash they lay out?

Post your finds here!

Happy Hunting!


American Pickers Returns to History Channel – by Reyne Haines

June 21st, 2010 by

America’s favorite new TV show launched its first episode of Season 2 on June 7th.  A staggering 4.3 million viewers tuned in to follow Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz on their next great picking adventure.

Mike & Frank are once again on the hunt for more – Rusty Gold – digging through barns, salvage yards, and a burned down storage facility in search of forgotten treasures.

The first episode we watch Mike get taken advantage of by Buddy the Booby Trap man.  Had he only listened to Frank!  I couldn’t help but whistle the theme to “Sanford and Son” while watching them climb around some the broken down bus filled to the brim with junque.  It would seem like they have to pick many a pile before striking gold.

Finally, they get a lead on a property with a few cars.  Over the years I have managed a few car collections, and have found a few great cars in barns myself.  It never ceases to amaze me how one day you pull a car in a garage, and then it is left to sit for 10-20 years.  At the end of the day, the 1950 Studebaker they managed to score was a well earned reward.

So it’s no mystery I like this show.  I love what it represents; two guys who have a passion for adventure, and who get excited every day with the thrill of the hunt.  That aside, I wanted to know more about these guys.  I wanted to really know how deep their passion runs for this stuff.

I emailed Frank a few weeks ago, alas his taping schedule has kept him tied up, and I don’t think he spends as much time on email I do – so I hit up Mike for an interview.  I have to say it’s really weird interviewing someone. It is usually me in the hot seat.  I thought about a lot of questions that have been asked to me over the years and then trashed the list and decided to “free style”.

Poor guy sounds exhausted when I first get on the phone with him.  He’s been on the road up to his ears in rotted hams and dust bunnies.  I really felt bad about taking some of his downtime away for my interview, but don’t you know as soon as we started talking about picking, he completely came back to life.

I learned we had a good bit in common.  He started Kindergarten at the age of 4, and so did I.  He was raised in a single family home, so was I.   He had a thing for bikes at the age of 4.  At 4 I was racing my bad-ass red tricycle around the house with my mother’s sunglasses on narrowly missing the wall as I took the corners at amazing speeds.

Seriously, Mike’s passion for collecting did start at the age of 4.  One day on his way to school he saw a few bikes in the trash at someone’s home. He ended up cutting school and took them all back to the garage at his home. This is where the similarities stop, because I didn’t start cutting school until like 10th grade.

His interest in vintage items didn’t end as a kid.   In later years, he wanted to decorate his home with vintage things, and to this day, he still has a passion for bicycles.   I must sadly admit I never kept that red trike, or the bubblegum pink Huffy I had.

I know earlier I said I decided against the standard reporter questionnaire, but I did want to know one thing.  Did he have a Fine Arts degree, or any formal schooling for the world of antiques?  I get asked that question a lot.  In case you are wondering, the answer is no – and I was betting that was going to be his answer as well.   Sure enough, he had learned from the school of hard knocks; trial and error; experience.  I personally think you learn more that way in this business.

The conversation came to a serious note at one point when we talked about picking.  He noted the level of thrill he gets from being first to pick things.  He expressed how he did not want to be the middle man, or have an item sold to him that had been sold a few times around.  There is a simple old school joke that explains it all; “There were two antique dealers on a deserted island…business was good!”

In the world of collecting, items are often picked, then sold to a dealer, then another dealer and maybe even a third dealer before finally going to a collector.  Wolfe has no interest in being on the receiving end of a phone call from a dealer offering their newly polished prize up for sale.

Mike & Frank have been in this business for quite some time.  With all they have seen, I had to know what would be the ultimate pick.  Mike, the ever passionate bike guy gave me not one, but two answers; First, was anything Harley Davidson, pre 1910.  Second would be a Blackhawk motorcycle.  Apparently this bike was made not far from his home and a complete model has never been found.

So any of you reading that happen to have one of these in your backyard and you want to be on TV, you know who to call.

In the meantime I’ll be watching to see if the antique Gods smile upon you and grant that wish.  However, may I note that I’m pretty sure the oil lamp you were looking at in the first episode of Season 2 is called an Aladdin lamp.  Perhaps you could have rubbed it and made a wish!

Happy Hunting guys!


Picking with Reyne – Vol 7 – By Reyne Haines

June 11th, 2010 by

Collect AntiquesThere are antique markets, and then there are ANTIQUE MARKETS.

What sets them apart? A few things actually:

  • The number of dealers:  If you’ve seen everything in an hour, the show’s either new, or it’s a bust.  Size matters.
  • The type of merchandise: Shoppers need a lot of eye candy.  No one hitting an “antique market” wants to see a bunch of new merchandise they can get at TJ Maxx or Restoration Hardware.  If you have to have newer merchandise, separate the dealers. Put newer more “decorative” dealers in one area and the other area should be all antique/vintage dealers.  Shoppers never like to have to wade through the new to find the old.
  • The show promoter:  What does he/she have to do with anything other than to sell booth rent and tickets?  Plenty!  Their marketing efforts to get dealers to sell at their venue for one.  And those same marketing efforts to keep said dealers by bringing in tons of buyers.  Lots of buyers + lots of dealers = Lots of sales and return visitors.

I wanted to highlight a GREAT antique market for everyone out on the West coast (and those of you considering a trip).

Alameda Point Antiques & Collectibles Faire


This show is the best the bay area has to offer.  Located at the former Alameda Point Naval Station (the show is setup on the runway) with the best view of the bay!

The show happens once a month, and last weekend was tremendous!  They had 800 dealers setup, and 10,100 attendees and they were carrying lots of bags out the door. That tells me there were lots of great items to be had!

If you missed last weekend’s event, their next show is July 4th, and then August 1st, September 5th and October 3rd.

And if you do attend, I want to hear about it.  Tell them Picking with Reyne Haines sent ya!

Do you have a favorite antique market?  Tell me about it here!  I also love hearing about your flea market and antique market finds.

Happy Hunting!