Wednesday, February 3, 2010

THE BEST OF OUR BLOG


The blog has become so active, we have decided to include the best of each week's blog (our choice) here in our ezine. That way, those who do not check the Kovels Komments blog each week can get a taste of what's out there. This is the "Best of blog" from Jan 27--the Reader's Comment in answer to our suggestion to open a collectible can of Pepsi from the bottom:

Dawn wrote...
My husband was part of Desert Shield in 1991. He brought back a can of Pepsi because it was labeled in Arabic. Last year, we were watching TV and heard a loud bang. We couldn't find the source that night, but the next day discovered the can on the floor; the bottom of it was behind the bookcase it sat on. There was little stain from the contents, so I guess most of it evaporated, but there was a deep dent in the wall where the bottom hit when it blew. So I would recommend emptying the can if you plan to keep it.

Our bloggers have been very concerned about the new show "American Pickers." Many felt I should condemn the pickers, who buy at very low prices and then tell us they will make a huge profit. I have been told that unaired shows are being edited to explain that the "profit" often includes the cost of cleaning and some repair of the collectible, plus the overhead of travel and office expenses. I know from experience that a "farmer" with a barn or two full of old stuff knows the value. People featured on the show seem to like having company and sell just a few pieces at a time. Besides, the pickers arrive with a full camera crew and producers, so all the guests know full well they are part of a TV show. Without a camera, you can never get the same result you get with this few minutes of fame. I do agree the show sometimes presents the pickers as trying to buy from uninformed elderly who need money and sell too cheap--the stereotype of the "wicked dealer." But the show's hosts are polite and always ask the seller to set the price--and everyone seems to enjoy the encounter. If the show bothers you, don't watch. Low ratings kill a show. But we find many of our readers enjoy the show. And any publicity about collecting is good for collectors.

40 comments:

K2 said...

I have watched a couple of "American Picker" episodes, and I enjoyed the show a lot. The hosts are never aggresive or pushy, and the sellers end up with a pocket full of cash they didn't have before these guys showed up. I have been a picker, a dealer, and a buyer over the years, and I know the "what it's worth" price and the "what you get" price may not be the same! Relax people - this is what's called commerce!

Anonymous said...

The most recent episode that I watched, the pickers actually offered more then the lady asked for an item...

Anonymous said...

Years ago, I called a dealer to bid on the contents of my parents house after they had passed and us kids had taken what we wanted. She called in an auctioneer to help evaluate the items. He added up all the values as if they were to be auctioned that day. She then offered 1/2 that value. I told her "fine", sweep the floor when you leave. She stared to explain that she would have to move everything, clean the items and may be some time before everything was sold. I told her that I recognized all that and I felt like the 1/2 value offer was generous. It all worked out fine.
Oldtoyz

mensa63 said...

I enjoy Pickers and Kovel's comments and Antiques Roadshow but sometimes I think they creat the impression that buying and selling antiques and "junk" is a sure way to get rich quick. Having had some experience in the genre (my uncle ran a successful antique shop when I was a child and into my teens and so I was able to have a sort of hands on experience and know that it takes a practiced eye, years of experience and sometimes just plain dumb luck to get rich quick in the business. As witnessed on Roadshow most of the people who have brought in treasures have no idea what they have and I applaud when they demonstrate when someone brings a forgery.

Suzzy said...

K2, I couldn't agree more. There is a lot of money spent (the gas alone!)and hard work involved in "picking" - think of the hours that go into finding one great buy. These guys are professionals who have extensive education in certain collectible areas. They should be compensated for that knowledge just like, for example, that computer tech earning $/hour that comes to fix your computer.

Joe said...

Thank you to Kovels for continuing the discussion of "Pickers". The show is fun, informative, and the margin of profit for the effort expended by the Antique Archeologists in searching and reselling the items featured in the show is far less than most retail enterprises.
It's a great show that could inspire more people to become collectors.

Anonymous said...

My husband & I have watched several episodes of 'American Pickers' and like it. The people they visit and buy from seem to know the value of their items or are just glad to sell some of their stuff. We would like the show to expand and show what happens to the items. Where do the items end up? Are they restored or used as is?? When are they coming to Texas??

Anonymous said...

I have not seen the American Picker show yet but I would like to comment. I am an Antiques dealer and when I am invited into someones home to purchase their items, I set the price I will pay. I feel that asking a person who likely has no knowledge to set the price is taking advantage. I am the one with the knowledge and I know what an item is worth in my shop and I know what I am able to pay in order to make a profit. I always tell people I have three people to be fair to- The seller, the buyer and myself. However if I attend a fleamarket, yardsale etc then I just pay the price asked and am on my way.Although I have sometimes paid more if the selling price was ridiculously low and I knew the funds raised were for a good cause.Buying at 10 cents on the dollar or less is what has earned antique dealers the bad reputation that most have.

FOLLOWING TROLLTRACKS said...

I really loved the show and sure hope it doesn't get canceled. There just aren't any good shows like this airing anymore.

Bob Thomas said...

We watched our first PICKERS show after reading about the buyers taking advantage of a poor farmer and making a huge profit from it. We found the Pickers often offered more than the seller asked, and that the sellers usually set a price themselves. Yes, sometimes the guys would dicker a little - that's how we all work as dealers when we buy from anyone - be they other dealers or individuals with items to sell from their homes, garages, or entire estates. And there ARE others costs to us, as dealers, beyond the price we pay for the items: travel, repairs, time, costs of renting space at shows or in malls, and commissions we may have to pay by having our items displayed in malls. Interesting show, although it may not be everyone's cup of tea!
Bob and Betsey Thomas, B&B Treasures, Radford, VA.

Siggi said...

In any FREE market transaction the motto "the item is worth what a willing buyer is willing to pay" holds true. There is always more to a meeting of minds than obvious to the bystander, i.e. the uninitiated person. In the FREE market place it is always the buyer who aims to buy low and the seller who wants to sell high. It is ultimately the buyer who sets his own limits by either paying the asking price or declining - for whatever his own personal reason may be. There is no such thing as "gouging" or "overcharging' as long as there is a FREE market.
P.S. I have been in the retail business for 11 years!

Anonymous said...

The only difference between "American Picker" and "Pawn Stars" is in who travels to whom. There is always overhead, breakage, theft, having the right market to sell the item, etc. to consider. All in all, I think the offers are probably pretty fair.

Kay said...

I love the show and soon figured out with the cameras rolling, all knew what each was doing. Antique picking has been going on forever so enjoy! Kay

Bob said...

I have watched Pickers show several times and always enjoy it. I have been a collector of "antiques", collectables, and junk for the last 40 years and I get a lot out of the show. I wish they could come put on a show at my "expensive" storage unit full of my collection. Keep up the good work. Bob.

Anonymous said...

I love the show! I think the prices paid are reasonable considering if the show never came, the "stuff" would just sit there. There's no way I would wander through some of the underbrush and into old broken spidery barns, but I admire the initiative and love of the hunt the hosts exude. I've driven past many old farms and have often wondered what "rarity" might be inside. Maybe some day.......

mam said...

I really enjoy the show "Pickers". And I get the feeling that the "picked people" are fully aware that their items are worth money. But imagine the work it would be for them to clean up and sell these items themselves. It seems to be a win/win situation for the pickers and the picked. It's a business transaction after all.

Anonymous said...

I totally disagree with you regarding this show. It is a disgrace and a travesty to the History Channel, and I am truly surprised at your attitude. This show casts an extremely bad light on all reputable dealers, and I certainly would not trust either of these individuals near the Sunday church collection plate!!

Anonymous said...

Just don't watch is such a cliche when one has no better response. The pickers may be polite, but they also use those lights and cameras to their advantage. I am sure some of those people are intimidated and do not want to say something wrong. Those two can do much better for the business if they were just abit more fair. Come on now, buy for $20 knowing you will get $300? That is what you consider fair? No wonder people are so distrusting of dealers. No shame, just a game on how much one can get over on an uninformed individual. Expected more from Kovels.

Radio guy. said...

Sure, the pickers offer more than someone wants for an item. Probably because the offer was still 10 times below what the item was worth in the market.

Too many times we see real junk that ends up in antique malls for huge prices. PLastic radios for $200 but are only $20 sets. Just because a similar set went for $500, the think theirs is worth that too.
It woudld be finny if one day the pickers got scammed into buying what looked like good stuff, only to find they have been taken for a ride. Farmers and the old folks who have old stuff are not fools.

gardensandquiltsiniowa said...

I live in Iowa, don't be fooled into thinking Iowa farmers are poor old men! Many are very wealthy despite the appearance of their farmsteads. They do know what they have! I don't think the pickers are taking advantage of these farmers at all. Many of them lived through the Great Depression and find it difficult to part with "things", hence their hoarding tendencies. You would be shocked to know how much money some of them have....my dad is one of those.... There comes a time in life when all that stuff means less, so why not let it go just to get rid of it?

Anonymous said...

I find all these shows pure BS. Even Antiques Roadshow has ringers. The pawnbrokers is absolutely stupid. Imagine a dealer who can get an expert to come in appraise items at the drop of a hat, or the items being professionally restored in a couple of weeks. The pickers program is obviously a setup. No real dealer would go out on what might be a wild goose chase with a complete camera crew. This may be good entertainment for the on initiated but it has little educational value if you want to learn about antiques. The only way to learn is to do. Get out to the yard sales and flea markets yourself.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate the comment in your 2/3 newsletter. Unless they have been in retail, most people have no idea what a "normal" markup is and assume that it is immoral to pay less than a retail price for merchandise to resell.

A moment's thought would make it obvious that there would be no commerce if sellers paid too much for their merchandise, but some don't give it a moment's thought and are easily offended by the idea of buying low and selling (maybe) high.

Brettt said...

I've seen "American Pickers" a few times, and was at first concerned that the hosts may take advantage of the sellers, but I now I agree that the seller usually knows what they have, can set their price, and they have the option to say "Yes" or "No". I find the show very enjoyable and informative, as I've seen some items where I say to myself: "Cool! I've got that somewhere!". Or, "Wow! I'm gonna keep an eye out for that!".

toy2me said...

American Picker, is a good show, leave it alone and let it run its course. What was more up setting to me was the way they they talked to the woman that sets the apointments. I have collected all my life and they are more than welcome to come take advantage of me. I have lots to choose from.

Anonymous said...

I, too watched American Picker on The History Channel. It's fun and I see absolutely nothing wrong with profit.
If I were them (and I'd love to be one of them) after fixing, cleaning, displaying, traveling, gas, food, lodging...PROFIT. They are not in business to sell something for the same price they purchased it for...that's crazy.
This is their business.

Gary said...

I disagree with many respondants on this blog. I've been "picking" (if you want to call it that) for about 15 years. I have some steadfast rules I operate by...these may make me less money but I can sleep at night without the worry that I've ripped someone off or taken advantage of anybody. These guys on Picker are no doubt taking advantage of their situation. One example was the horse saddle bought from the old man in the first episode. They knew or should have known the probable value of the saddle ... at least enough to know they were ripping this guy off .. no question. Instead they could have informed him that it was most likely worth thousands of dollars and then worked out a reasonable offer which would allow them a good profit but also give the bulk of the money to him. That's a good way to be invited back as it's almost sure to ranckle this guy when he talks to his friends and finds he let the saddle go to a pair of ripoffs. The next time they show up they may just be staring at the end of a shotgun not the open hand of a handshake.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the controversy over the show American Pickers, I just wanted to say that I learned about the show through your newsletter, watched the previous shows via the internet and have been keeping up with current episodes. I enjoy it very much and do not agree that the sellers are being taken advantage of. The pickers are respectful and courteous and may haggle a bit, but in general are quite fair. In fact, I am sometimes surprised at how much they offer for an item and, in fact, their profits on most items are not at all huge considering what they must do to scout, transport, clean, etc. the items they find. After all, they are in business to make a profit so they must pay the seller less than the final market value. Their talents are their practiced eye, experience and knowledge and they deserve to make a profit. The people they buy from seem to be quite happy. It seems like a win-win situation for all.

Anonymous said...

I too enjoy the show, but I do worry about the national exposure of some of these people with great stuff who might attract less professional "pickers" who might take advantage of them or even steal from them.

newspaperlady said...

I absolutely love American Pickers!! My husband and I have enjoyed the "hunt" and the "find" for several years and sometimes that's more fun and important than what can be gained monetarily. I know these guys are in the business to make a profit, but they are always professional and courteous to the sellers. I say go American Pickers!!!

daddyinsf said...

I enjoy the show and agree that one is being "ripped off". The guys make a great "good cop/bad cop" team. They remind me of me and my partner when we were in business in Wisconsin in the 1970s. With all the lights and cameras it's tough to believe anyone is unaware of what's going on. It's an interesting show about a little known aspect of collecting. I agree; if you don't like it, don't watch. I'm hooked on it!

Anonymous said...

Frankly, I am surprised that they can support a business, pay for fuel, support their families, and pay an employee on the profit margins I have seen on the American Pickers program. These men are not doing the sellers a favor by buying their items...they are entering in to a mutually benifical agreement.
So far I have seen them act generously to their sellers, most of which had no idea that their "junk" was worth anything at all.
Good for them and GOOD LUCK!

Anonymous said...

"American Pickers" is a great show and highlights an aspect of the antiques business that is lesser known. Picking is a business and businesses are SUPPOSED TO MAKE MONEY. I never got the feeling that the guys were ripping off senior citizens who were starved for company. Hey, if you have ever dealt with older collectors, you know that they are aware of the value of their stuff. The shame of it is when collectors think they have something really special saved back and find out the market for it is gone or it's a fake. Any episode of "Antiques Roadshow" shows the ups and downs of it all. Telling someone on tv that their stuff is worthless and seeing the disappointment on their face is hurtful but no one objects to this.

steve said...

Overall I think this is a good show, considering this is pretty much what I do I enjoy it. Everyone has to relax. Of course its a TV show, there is no such thing as real reality TV. Whenever a camera is present people will naturally act differently. AS far as the dealing goes I think in realistic and nobody pays more than they have to for something, its a business for profit!!

Anonymous said...

I have to suspect that some of the comments left on this blog stating that "older people know the value of their items", were written by less than honest dealers attempting to justify their unethical behavior.
I have been in this business for many years..I've seen it all, including grand theft from and forceful intimidation of the elderly....and it's frequent.

John in Glenview said...

We all know the phrase "buyer beware". I guess "American Picker" teaches us the lesson "Seller beware". A widgit may be worth a lot to a widgit collector, but I like whatchmacallits. And if I buy a piece today how can I be sure I make a profit if I can't sell it before the market for it evaporates it 3 months?

On the other hand....

I once showed a diamond bracelet at one of those hotel buying affairs. I didn't sell the piece, and on the way out I heard my specialist describe the piece and say, "Yeah, I tried to lowball him". A local jeweler paid twice what their offer had been.

Janice said...

I think you're being too hard on American Picker. We love the show, and, based on prices in our area, we think they are paying HIGH prices. Give these guys a break! A lot of driving and hard work goes into what they do. Janice

Jim said...

Regarding "picking," I've found what goes round, comes round. For example, while on a buying trip, I found 6 perfect blue & pink vintage Elegant Depression Glass large Cambridge stemware waters, etched in the Rosepoint or Chantilly pattern for $10 each, a total cost of $60. They were found in an Antique Mall, hundreds of miles from home. The $60 did not include travel time, gas, lodging, food, etc. Prior to buying, I called my potential buyer, an Antiques Glass Dealer in my city, who told me he could sell them for $30 each & would pay me half of his sale price, or $15 per stem. Turns out, after I sold them to him, I found out he had known that they were selling at glass shows for $60-$75 each. I also learned he sold them shortly thereafter for $60 each, making a hefty profit of $45 each & made a profit of $270. I made only $30 profit on all 6 stems & made only $5 profit each. So, shame on that unscrupulous dealer because he had knowledge that 1 stem was selling at shows for $60 up & we had a prior verbal agreement that he would always pay me 50% of what he thought an item would sell for. He was heard telling someone in his "shop" that he had made a "bundle" on a sale of 6 blue & pink stems & he didn't have to "even leave his shop." Yes, he was unethical & I won't forget what he did. He has since had his Karma Experience returned to him many times over. So, does it pay to take advantage of another? No, it always comes back, one way or another. He KNEW he could sell 6 stems for much more than he told me, so he "used" me to make an unfair profit, at my expense. Such dealers will go under, as word gets back as well as Karma. The person selling the 6 stems to me was paid a fair price based on what I was told they were selling for in the marketplace by the unscrupulous dealer. So, 2 people got screwed, me & the person selling to me. This shady glass dealer has had to move his business twice now due to his failing business! When I learned how much he shortchanged me, I was furious & have not done business with him since. He thought he pulled one over on me, but I told every person I know what this man did, knowing it might have an effect on his business. The truth was jeopardized in this transaction, & all parties hurt. A Picker should pay a fair price IF THAT END PRICE IS KNOWN AT THE TIME OF THE INITIAL PURCHASE, because ANYONE can see a business reputation ruined if word gets out that any part of a transaction was unethical. A reputation takes a long time to build, & once questioned can be ruined. It has happened to many antiques dealers, & pickers need to be as ethical as dealers. Some day this may be a regulated industry due to unscrupulous individuals who take an unfair advantage. Buyers must Beware, but it is the pickers & dealers who have an ultimate responsibility to play fairly or risk not being able to play at all. If we cannot trust each other, what have we become, Bernie Madoff perhaps? PA in MIA in FLA

Anonymous said...

I enjoy knowing the values, but I hope it is shared with the sellers on the show, because some folks could be very naive to the market value of THEIR items, when someone comes to them.

If anything, they should be entitled to 50% of the selling price and the dealer will still have a fair markup. Otherwise, I feel those pickers are taking advantage.

At flea markets, yard sales, and online auctions, the seller has offered their items up for sale already, to everyone.

That is where I do my picking, but not as a dealer, as a collector.

Anonymous said...

I came across the "American Picker" as I was channel surfing. I wasn't aware that these were "cold calls." These does seem unethical in that the people have no time to research a proper price for them. Of course, they could just say leave your phone number and I'll let you know. On the other hand, perhaps some people just don't care about the things or their worth and would rather be rid of them at any price. My parents were that way when they downsized.

terri said...

Echoed amongst these comments is the theme of "be fair". I try to keep prices low but have sold the yardsale item that cost me $1.00 for $75.00. I am the one that sacrifices my saturday sleep ins, uses my truck and gasoline, cleans the item, researches its value, prices it and then hopes it sells in one of the boothes i pay monthly rent for. I have to dust it if it sits around, vacuum and constantly rearrange for bored buyers, not to mention the ones that use the shop as entertainment for small children...... you get the point. I understand collectors returning and i have developed a relationship with many that i have given discounts too. We have to pay our bills too! Your local small business (thrift, junk or antiques) dealer is not rich. But i love being surrounded by my "Stuff" so i view it a hobby rather than an income. Alot of times we are doing the person a favor by just getting rid of their clutter.