Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Good Junk

Deb and I thought we would begin a new series for 2011 about how we use the junk or antiques we find...where we found it, how much we paid, why we bought it and how were going to use it.  We thought though that we might start with some tips and hints to get you started.  If you are a seasoned junker, feel free to add your own tips in the comments section.
Remnants of the Past Show: Nipomo, CA
Here are some questions to think about when shopping for deals:
What state? 
When buying something old I always consider what state I am in (meaning state of the union, not state of mind) because antiques in California are much harder to come by than in Texas or Minnesota or Ohio where prices usually are more competitive. 
Austin, TX

Am I willing to pay what they are asking?
Some dealers are more willing to negotiate with you than others, but some things to know are: 
1.  CASH will ALWAYS get you the best price. 
2.  Don't insult someone by offering too low of a price. "Is this your best price?" is one way to ask without insulting the dealer.
3.  The more you buy or the higher the price, the more of a discount you may get.
4.  Stay away from dealers or stores that love their junk even more than you do...they never bargain.  We all know that shop owner that is running a museum not a store.  An often heard comment after leaving this type of store, "They sure like their stuff". 
Antique shop or museum? You be the judge.
 What time of year? 
Heat of summer or rain in Winter can effect prices at outdoor events.  On a past trip to Round Top, in Texas, pouring rain led to some great deals.  Although I am not sure the trade off of having to use the port-a-potty while wearing a rain poncho was worth it.
Three Speckled Hens show: Paso Robles, CA
What time of day?
Late in the day at any show is the best time to get a good deal.  Dealers would rather sell it than pack it up and have to drive it home.  At every show we do a quick overview to find the best booths then go back around for a harder look in all booths.  But if you see something you like the first time around, you better grab it.
Blissfest: Mesa, AZ
Is it a show or a flea market?
You can usually get a better price at a flea market or a roadside stop rather than a show where there are overhead costs involved.  Although, keep in mind that even shows sometimes have outdoor areas where prices might be lower or more competitive. 
Remnants of the Past Show: Nipomo, CA
 How am I going to get this home?  
In other words, do I have to pay for shipping?  If shipping your item is more than the item costs then it may not be worth it.  If you are driving then know the measurements of your loading space or trunk. 
One time my sister and niece went to a show at Dallas Fair Park.  We had such a great time looking and buying.  We all purchased some things including two small hall tables that would easily fit in the truck of her Honda Accord.  Later in the day we picked up our purchases and walked to the car.  My sister put the key in and opened the truck...there in all it's glory, was my nephews TUBA!  We never checked the trunk before we left home and forgot he had put it in after school on Friday.  Major Oops!  After we got over the initial shock we all just stood there laughing.  We had to drive back to Fort Worth with tables on our laps...I was never so glad it was only an hour away.  Of course we still make jokes about the day with tuba in the trunk.
 What kind of shopper am I?  
Are you a person that likes to have everything curated for you?  or a digger that likes to get down and dig around in the stuff under the table, inside a box and underneath a big pile of newspapers?  If so, a flea market might suit you best. 
Three Speckled Hens show: Paso Robles, CA

If the shop or booth is mostly man stuff, they might not value other items such as sewing supplies that don't appeal to them which in turn could mean a good deal for you.

Always carry a measuring tape and for furniture and larger pieces.  It can also be helpful to have your house plan with measurements so you know if a piece will fit in a specific area.

Look in the corners or bottom shelves where things are put that are of less value to the seller....some of the best deals you may have to "find" or dig for.

Also, keep in mind, if you have allergies you many need to pack medication or even avoid some shows since many shows and flea markets use hay as a display item or to cover wet ground in the winter.  I thought we were going to have to carry Deb out of Marburger Farms, TX on a stretcher. 
And lastly, take a friend, that way if you don't find anything, the time will be well spent in good company.

I hope you have found this helpful in your quest for good junk.  Since this post went on longer than expected I am going to wait to show you the first piece of Good Junk.  That's right...your gonna have to wait for Friday.  But I will give you a hint: it's in one of the pictures in this post.
See you then!


  1. I have become a lover of Junk. Your post is very timely because I have decided in 2011 to look for my own junk instead of buying it from others (although anytime you ladies put junk on etsy, I want to know about it!)This post has encouraged me to go forth and conquer. I have found few places in Virginia Beach but I guess that is part of the joy of the search. Look forward to the rest of the series.

  2. What a great idea for a blog series. I always enjoy seeing the junk(treasures), you and Deb have found, but haven't yet been very successful in my own searches. I think all the tips and ideas in today's post will be very helpful! Looking forward to seeing your great junk. Thanks, Denise

  3. Loving this idea for a post. The pictures make me want to reach in and grab something. Do you take your own bags or a cart or something?

  4. Love this to junk too--but NO places like this near me. But I go often to what my friends and family call "the Junk Barn" and have found fun things. I love the picture of the kitchenware..I could grab a lot of "stuff" from there. thanks for sharing these ideas....ksh

  5. Judy,
    I have a cart but I rarely take it. I find them only useful if I am at a very large flea market and the car is very far away. They are just too big to get into the booth without a lot of trouble.
    I do use nylon shopping bags that fold up very small until I need them. For large items I usually leave it with the vendor until I am ready to leave the show. But you MUST remember to go back to get it! I left a round suitcase at eh last show...I totally lucked out because I knew the local vendor and I had written a check so she called me!

  6. Hi, ladies! I LOVE flea markets and am lucky that in Southern Cal, we have a few, and I have a hubby who enjoys them too.

    Some of my best finds were purchased in the very early part of the show/event. I like to go early, which usually includes paying more for admission. And, I haven't found a pattern to rely on, but some vendors are willing to deal because they don't want to risk getting stuck with the item, others want to wait.

    I haven't been in awhile, my little cottage is already full, but I crave going, its fuel for my soul!!

    I'm so looking forward to hearing much more and I hope in 2011 that I can go to a show out of CA!

  7. I love looking around at flea markets for good junk! You've provided some great tips for the "junkers"! Can't wait to see what's in store for tomorrow.

  8. I love your junk story, it reminds me of the time that i was at work (junking) and realized that i was late for my turn at carpool. i jumped in the car and was soo excited that i made it in time (the other moms are never late). as the kids were headed my way, i glanced in my mirror and the car was packed! daugter not happy. we re-arranged the load, tucked a child between a ladder and away we went. Love this new column, great advice!

  9. Ah, fun times with ponchos and porta potties. That was a great trip!

  10. Love junking...was at the rose bowl flea market over the weekend..what a treasure hunt that was...vintage goodness everywhere..I thought the best buys were the industrial furniture acccessories..some fabulous finds!
    Great tips though..I took a cart and found it too cumbersome also...even though my dh was advice bring a truck...
    Can hardly wait for more stories..thank you guys!

  11. OMG! WHat a great post about finding FABULOUS junk! Your descriptions were so funny and well-written! I really enjoyed reading! :)