AT Inbox: Readers weigh in on American Pickers (part 2)

If you sell for profit, you must pay taxes

I read the article and was disgusted by Mr. Peddycoart’s statement about “taxing people’s income from selling items on sites …”

I certainly hope no auditors from the IRS or Minnesota read your publication as Mr. Peddycoart owes tax on his transactions (and he may also owe Minnesota Sales Tax as well).

Just because you don’t define yourself as a business does not mean you aren’t a business; his treating it as a hobby despite there being income generated hurts all Americans. It’s called “tax evasion.” It also gives him an unfair advantage against those of us who do report our income, and must budget in for the 15+ percent FICA as well as the state and federal taxes due.

David Zjaba (Papergoy on Amazon/eBay)
Via e-mail

Why no Southern California shows?

I just wanted to take a moment to tell you how much I enjoy your magazine. I have a question, please.

Why are there so very few shows in San Jose, Calif? It seems that one could start one in Southern California … or even the Bay Area.

DiAnne Crema
Campbell, Calif.

Readers respond to the Question of the Week: “What new collections have you started because of lower market prices?”

Clear glass selling by the box loads

Clear glass is simply not selling in our area. People only want color. I understand that, but I also see some very beautiful crystal cut and etched pieces that are going by the box loads at auctions.

Frequently the boxes are a mix of “stuff” and quality, but the price of the box is worth obtaining one or two pieces. The only clear etched that has not fallen to this lack of interest appears to be Heisey.

Ethel Geary
Via e-mail

Readers respond to the Question of the Week: “What are your personal views on antique restoration?”

Restoration can enhance long term values

I believe that restoration, if needed, enhances the value and enjoyment of owning an antique.

Many antiques are broken (functionality affected) over time and need to be carefully put back to the supposed original condition.

Sometimes tables or chairs have been cut down which makes them uncomfortable to use and enjoy. I see nothing wrong with ending out chair or table legs.

Restoring finish is more of a judgement call. If the finish has been stripped entirely, you must decide if the looks and attractiveness can be enhanced with a professionally restored finish – always to the original color.

In any of these cases, the seller should clearly inform the potential buyer of any restoration to the antique, as a precondition of sale.

Richard J. Wilks
Via e-mail

Restoration is a personal choice

I feel antique restoration is judgemental. An antique piece of furniture, absolutely, [restoration] would definitely make the piece much more presentable. Now, if we’re talking a doll or a bear or a toy, this should be done by professionals who know their craft, which could definitely enhance the piece. But if the restoration is brought to the max of total restoration then this now becomes a brand new piece – and there is enough of the reproduction stuff out there that takes up this area.

There are people who feel they could easily do restoration and have no knowledge of how to go about it. They end up trashing a rather nice original piece, which could in turn devalue a fine piece. This ruins many a fine piece  since many dealers do not want the expense of a restorer. They would rather put the money in their pocket.

Take a lesson from “Pawn Stars,” who do restore some pieces, by professionals, because they know the market and know when it will either enhance or detract from a quality piece.

I feel that in general, if an antique is just worn from age  (loved) it has much more character, than a restored piece. I would rather have a fine original antique in my house than a restored piece anytime.

Forest Park, Ill.

Antique Trader asked readers “Do you think the show American Pickers helps or hurts the antiques business?” following a cover story in the Feb. 24 issue. The following is the second installment of the flood of mail we received on the topic.

What’s not to like?

Regarding your question about the American Pickers: What’s not to like? Ditto for the “Pawn Stars” show: entertaining and honest. What are the pickers supposed to do – break even? I don’t think so. Besides, most of their finds are relatively modest in gains.

The bottom line is, I believe, they are stimulating the antiques and collectibles market and isn’t that a good thing?

I only wish some of those old folks would be willing to part with more stuff. I am about their age and I would be happy if I had all that stuff and a couple of young men came and offered to help clean up my “junk piles.”

George Reed
Pottstown, Pa.

‘Pickers’ doesn’t live up to the hype

With all the hype I could not wait to see the American Pickers, but so far it’s a big thumbs down.

For some unknown reason the producers want to make inane idiots of these guys by having them prattle on and on about themselves, their office manager, lunch and just about anything but the antiques and collectible the show is supposed to be about.

I had hoped it would be both entertaining and informational but thus far it misses on both counts. Ah, for the return of “Lovejoy.” Too bad, I had really hoped for a show with some substance like most of what is on the “History Channel” but this is fluff of the worst kind, and I do not fault Mike or Frank.

Jon Scarborough
Melrose, Mass.

‘Pickers’ article brings back memories

When I saw and read the article about the ‘Pickers’ I was delighted. I am glad I renewed my subscription.

I guess my wife and I were pickers. But, that was a long time ago. I’ve been a woodworker since I was a kid. This grew into repairing furniture. This was hindered before college, marriage, work, the Navy and more work. We started going to flea markets. This grew and we started going to antique markets. I was working for the Air Force. Sometimes it was travel coast to coast. I got to see a lot of marts. So every time we had some time off we took our car and trailer. I was buying furniture, pottery, anything we thought would sell.

Sometimes there was so much to buy we didn’t’ know how to get it home. We were buying Mission oak in the East, cleaning it up and taking it to California auctions.

We also had a liking for clocks and pottery and attended the shows. When I retired this got even hotter. I am a life member of American Pottery and the National Pottery Associations.
There are so many stories of things that happened. No, I did some of the things these fellows did. There were too many estate sales, garage sales, mall sales, flea markets, country sales and other sales.

I enjoyed reading the article. My wife and son laughed.  Pickers may sometimes be too aggressive but they do wake people to what they have of value. I think the story was just great.

Dave Norman
Weatherford, Texas

Keep American Pickers on the air

I like the American Pickers show and think I have watched most of the episodes. I have been a collector of “junk” and “stuff” for 40-plus years via yard sales, auctions, flea markets and antique shows. I see this show as a learning tool of their trade as pickers and dealers. I get excited like they do when I find something I just know is cool and would be a great find.

Being a graphic artist and photographer, I collect old art, cameras, drafting and office desk lamps and equipment and have bought my share of old frames in box lots. As a sports fan, I also love to find old baseball gloves, bats, balls, skates, rackets and just about any sport equipment that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

I got my husband into collecting when we got married and he is crazy about tools, old radios, Aladdin lamps, coffee pots and now is one the hunt for old diner coffee cups and dishes.

I like the show American Pickers. I am not a fan of most reality shows and miss the old fashioned situation comedies of my youth from the late ‘50s and early ‘60s through the Seinfeld era.

My husband is a History Channel junkie and I love the American Revolution and Native American history stuff. I also watch the HGTV shows about collectables and antiques and miss the old Kovels show they aired a few years back. I look forward each week to the American Pickers and the PBS and BBC’s Antiques Roadshow.

I see the potential for having a great amount of fun finding stuff for others for their collections or business decor. I only get “stuff” for my own collection with a few exceptions of gift giving of collectables during Christmas and birthdays.

Since I am unemployed and low on cash flow, I would love to be a picker for someone rich who doesn’t have time to look for stuff they want. I live in southern Ohio and this area is rich in history and full of the Ohio valley pottery and a lot of old farm collectables. I have thought about that vocation for myself for years and when work gets slow out here in the hills, that idea pops into my head over and over again

So, if you or your staff have any “rich” people looking for pickers, I would love to be a Midwestern “hillbilly picker.” Let me know if you have anybody looking for such a person.

Thanks for listening,
Cindy Manzi
Chillicothe, Ohio

Pickers should pay veteran more for items

I have watched American Pickers from the very first show. And that is the show where they bought the saddle for $75 from a very elderly gentleman and later learned it has the potential to bring $4,000 if offered in a Western market.

As a dealer myself, I understand that buying something one is not familiar with is a part of the risk of the business. But when the dealer finds out later that the value of the item far exceeds expectations we are now in the area of windfall profits and found money. I have been fortunate to be in that situation and in the interest of fairness, I have sent additional monies to the seller.

I have been the recipient of such fairness from a big time New England dealer many years ago and I have not forgotten about that experience. I would hope that if the pickers do in fact sell the saddle for a significant amount that some of it go back to the 88-year-old gentleman who so kindly allowed them on his property.

Their failure to do so will certainly entitle them to the term “American Swindlers”.

Jim Livesey
Sequim, Wash.

No guarantees of profit for ‘Pickers’

I found your article on American Pickers fascinating. I enjoy the show and would like to clarify some of the concepts. Most of the items I saw purchased were in mediocre condition at best. When they comment about a $50 purchase being resold for $300, no info is provided about the extensive restoration required on most items.

There are exceptions where minimum effort is required to obtain a nice profit but the two individuals spend full time and have lots of expense in their efforts.

Henry C. Loos
Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

Pickers let sellers name their prices

Regarding the outrage and controversy surrounding the “American Pickers” series on the History Channel:

Although I’ve only seen the show a couple of times, I find American Pickers to be very entertaining and educational. From what I’ve seen, they let the seller name the price – as in, “How much would you have to have for that?” If the seller sets the price they want, it is the same as buying at a garage sale, flea market, etc. How about when you get a great item at a low price due to poor attendance at an auction? Is that unethical?

Do we know what the seller paid for the things they are selling? Maybe they got it for next to nothing years ago and are actually turning a handsome profit by selling to Mike and Frank. All retail businesses – from big-box retailers to antique dealers – buy their items as cheaply as possible and add their mark-up to cover their overhead and hopefully make a profit. It is called “running a business.”

L. Gjere
Cresco, Iowa

How else are you going to make money: Buy low, sell high

I absolutely LOVED the first two shows I saw, but hey, I am a dealer myself so I guess I am not the best one to ask. People already know that we buy as low as we can and sell high as high as possible, how else can you make money? That is a basic business principle.

I love that these guys are at the point of origin, or the beginning of the journey of a piece into the open market. What fun, I wish I could do that all the time too, it’s the hunt that makes your heart beat faster, the possibilities of a “treasure” found. My father was a Class A scrounge and I like to say my mother invented shabby chic, so it was inevitable that I would end up in the business at some point in time.

As far as exploiting the people they buy from, I don’t see that at all, are those people watching the same show? The people they buy from are doing nothing with these items, letting them sit and waste away outside or they are in a harmful non-temperature-controlled environment. These people are surprised that anyone would be interested at all. Often pieces need more time and effort put into them to become more saleable, is that risk, time, effort, and marketing worth nothing? I recall the old geezer at the junk yard as being a fairly savvy guy in terms of the prices he expected for certain pieces, as well as the old guy with the daughters who had great stuff in good condition, neither of those were exploited.
Well, it’s all great fun! Thanks for the show.

Anthea Conlon
The Vintage Vagabond

Pickers are unsung heroes of the hobby

It’s about time a show like this popped up. I have been collecting and picking for 40 years. This is one profession that most people don’t even know exist. About the only experience a normal person sees is when he goes to an antique shop and pays for something he knows nothing about.

A picker, most of the time has always been involved. To see this in action is a learning experience to the guy that thinks this is just junk anyway. The picker has spent years learning the trade and has made numerous costly mistakes. These mistakes are not dealt with very often on the show, but let them make a deal on a gut feeling and up jumps the guy that wants to sell those goofy tee shirts on YouTube, trying to make a dollar on the controversy. They probably don’t know anything, nor care about the trade, but they will be the first to think ‘I can make a buck or two on this!’

This is a great show and needed to give the antique trade and collecting a much needed boost. If you don’t like the show and don’t quite get it and are one of those that say what are you going then watch something else! Mike and Frank, you are doing just great, keep up the great show. I for one can’t wait for the next episode. I watch it over and over to see if you make any mistakes. Y’all are something, I can’t tell you how many younger people that I know have a interest in collecting and discussing the show with me … how great is that! Tell the young lady that keeps the home fires going at your shop and keeps track on you two has got her hands full.

Ronnie Wright
Via e-mail

Pickers could stand to learn about pinballs

I am a loyal follower of both shows and one thing I’ve learned is that, for all the knowledge that these people possess, nobody on either of those shows knows a whit about pinball machines.

Pete Bausys
Via e-mail

ALL pickers are no good!

Have been debating for several weeks about your “Picker” articles. In my opinion all such should be shot on sight – this has become so bad in my area that I am now licensed to carry a hand gun and have stickers starting this on several of my buildings and home.

My yard of 20 acres (trees, garden and goat pastures) are fenced with a 48-inch goat fence and no trespassing and no hunting signs – with a locked gate. Even these do not keep these shysters out – such can not read even the two letter word “NO!”

Examples, in July ’09 I had just finished 3-1/3 hours mowing between spruce trees, it was a hot day and I needed gas in the mower. There were no machines by the gate or visible in the yard area. I unlocked my house and got a soda pop from the refrigerator and was not in the house two minutes when I heard a noise in the entry. Now being a dealer in antiques and collectible for more than 40 years, I figured one of the housecats was into mischief. No! It was a very tall, 6 foot 4 inch male lifting Red Wing crockery off a shelf. I was shocked, tired and angry!

He wouldn’t leave and said he wanted to buy all the crockery. I told him to go to any auction as that was where I purchased all my items. His reply: “I don’t buy from dealers, shops, sales or auctions. I am a picker.” Word for word.

I told him to leave the house and go to the barn where such were displayed. Meanwhile I got my little pocket gun, handed him the barn lock.

Once inside the barn, he said. “These are plain. I want the ones like those in your house.” The [darn] fool gave me his card!

I told him I would send a list to him, instead I called the Sheriff’s Department and gave them his name, description, etc. and that he walked right through a bed of day lilies and rhubarb, etc., climbed the 48-inch fence.

Yes, pickers should be shot on sight: prowling buildings, homes, etc. None can read any signs, gates and fences don’t stop them. Now I even lock my home to feed and play with my dog and goats or go into the garden.

Beverly Peterson
Ivanhoe, Minn.


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