As a long-time buyer and seller of both antiques and collectibles, I am often asked “What is selling today? What are the trends and hot items?” I hate to say it, but I honestly do not know. Oh, I have some success stories; some surprises of things that sold higher than anticipated. Also a lot that have not ‘moved’ in over a year that were thought to be the ‘next absolute sure thing’ in the business.
I’ll give you some ideas of things that have recently sold. We set up our booth at the fantastic Elkhorn Antique Market, held 4 times a year at the Walworth Fair Grounds. It is definitely one of the best and you can always count on a large, top-notch crowd, come rain or shine (and we’ve sat through both.) The weather was picture perfect, high 70s, low humidity and sunny. (An occasional high wind made us treat glassware with caution, but that goes with the territory.)
We are very eclectic in our offerings and basically have no specific area. That’s because we hunt for things we like; unique items, not anything that limits us. We usually have 6 long ‘banquet’ tables, a card-table to check-out and we use turned over plastic containers to rest miscellaneous items on. We have locked glass cases with our ‘better offerings inside.’ The front of our booth usually has heavy metal and cast iron pieces, just because we don’t expect folks to want to carry them very far. (It makes sense except many times the buyer wants to leave their purchase with us until they are ready to head out, being reluctant to carry it around the fair. So we have to drag it to the back of the booth and into the van. Oh, well.)
In any case, I’ll give you an idea of some of the ‘mix’ that we sold. You be the judge as to what you’d buy to sell if you were a dealer.
Our first sale was a large metal Sealtest Ice Cream Sign. Definitely very old, with rust around the hanging holes to prove it. The second was a 1930s lady’s robe. Black with vibrant pink flowers, it was most likely silk. Sold to a young girl, perhaps in her early 20s, who was about 5′ 9” tall and weighing maybe 120 pounds, it fit her like a dream and she modeled for us, twirling around to show off the flouncy skirt. She was a fashion major at an Illinois college and was just thrilled. We next sold three watch fobs. Advertising pieces from local industrial giants that had long-ago changed hands or had left the industry. We then sold a cookie jar of a school house, probably from the 1960s. This went to a school teacher (but of course.)
An older gent sauntered into our booth. We both looked at him and recognized a repeat customer from the last show. He was a pig-collector and in fact had purchased a pig ‘oiler’ from us a while back. We were able to satisfy him with a carved wooden pig. He was so glad, paid promptly and carried it right out to his cart. We told him we’d keep an eye out for others and he vowed to return in August!
It got very crowded and neither hubby nor I had time to analyze what was selling. Not until we got home. Then we sat down to have a beverage and count the ‘loot.’ We tried to recall everything that we had sold. He remembered another ice cream sign, this one lit up, and also a cast iron stove door, an antique for sure. How about the advertising crates? Yup, sold two of those, in spite of being next to a real pro who specialized in all sorts of them. We had several pieces of carnival glass, lots of lookers, no takers. I remembered the canvas golf bag that sold. We had Sam Snead golf clubs inside but they were not of interest. The same gent bought a few wooden shafted clubs as well. The buyer shared with us that he was a heavy-duty collector and had over 2,000 clubs!
I had recently purchased a ‘lot’ of contemporary sterling silver pins and rings. We sold about 15 of those, nothing over $20. Hubby put a rack up with $2 necklaces, not too fancy, but we sold 10 of those too. My ‘best jewelry’, some signed rhinestone pins, a few cameos and even a pocket watch did not sell.
Another item that sold late in the day was a Milwaukee Brewers lunch box with the famous ‘racing sausages’ on the outside. We also sold 6 beer steins, some with the name of a brewery, others with just a German scene. Some linens sold too – a baby quilt and 10-12 doilies.
While in Ohio this winter, we purchased a very unusual item; a Snow Scoot. It is a type of sled with one runner over the seat. Folks would actually rent these from the park (still had a number ’8′ on the side) and hurl themselves downhill. Boy, consider the potential litigation on that item! It was purchased by a collector of sleds who often lent his items to a small museum near his home in northern Wisconsin. He was just beaming as he carried it out!
We sold two paperweights, a few books, some wooden print blocks, several beer bottles and a pair of leather saddlebags for a motorcycle.
This should give you an idea of the mix that we offer and items that were purchased. If you can see a ‘trend’ from this assortment, you are a far better antiquer than I am. (But, that’s what makes it so darn interesting.)