Geographical distances keep my two brothers and I from seeing each other much so I appreciated the rare chance for all three of us to hang out for a long weekend. The Texas weather was wild at times, at least for this California girl (torrential rains, thunder and lightning, flooding and tornado watches and marble-sized hail!), but we compensated with lots of good food, good talk and good movies.
When we did get out and about, I, of course, wanted to do a little picking and when we passed an antique store, my brothers were happy to indulge me. It was one of those antique stores in a strip mall and had about 50 dealers or so. I love poking around these kind of stores trying to ferret out undervalued gems.
Well after 20 minutes I had barely started looking and my brothers were done! NUTS! So after a few more minutes, and in the interest of sibling harmony, I called it quits too.
Did I find anything?
I found plenty, but some of the prices made me gasp. A signed Weiss rhinestone brooch of common design and size was $90. And though the dealer said she “could work with me on the price,” I knew it wouldn’t be close to any number I wanted to pay. Currently there are dozens of similar Weiss brooches for sale on eBay for under $30 and quite a few on Etsy as well. I am NOT a Weiss expert, but it seemed that this price was way out of whack with the market.
I did get absorbed in rifling through boxes of old photos and found four in short order. My first and favorite I call the “good ole boys.” Big, beefy farmers in bib overalls. They look related and I can picture some poor woman trying to feed them all.
And I love the photo of the little girl being pulled in a cart by a billy goat (circa 1931).
I also spotted a few small crystal dishes in a stall. Now, here’s the thing, I think fancy crystal pieces are fussy and out of vogue, but I also think they are kinda purty. So when I saw this elaborate (and heavy) little relish dish for $4, I thought “Come to momma!” But at the checkout the woman rang up the dish for $14. HUH? I told her I thought the dish was $4. She looked at the price tag and looked at me and I could almost see the wheels turning…she thought I had altered the price tag! And yes, I’ll admit the price tag did leave a little room for interpretation, but I was 99% sure that $4 was the real price.
It looks like the price may have been written originally as $14 and then someone scribbled out the number 1 and put a larger number 4 to reemphasize the real price. (And, for the record, I didn’t alter it. I would NEVER do that.)
I said maybe she could call the dealer to verify the price. She didn’t respond to that. Then I suggested I could bring up a few similar crystal dishes from the same seller that were bigger and clearly marked only $6.50 and $7 to show her that this seller was selling crystal items at these prices. So, I brought up the other dishes and she looked at the $6.50 dish and said, “It has a little damage and that accounts for the lower price.” But my dish also had a few fleabites!!!
In the end she sold it to me for $4 (I wouldn’t have bought it at $14.), but I left feeling uncomfortable because I knew there was still doubt in her mind about the real price and the unspoken question, had I altered the tag? I rather wish she had called the dealer. The whole transaction took the joy out of this purchase. When we got back to my brother’s house I tried to “untaint” the dish by putting it to use! I think the jewelry I brought along looks good in it.
The following day I hoped for a better experience at a different antique store, in a different city. I wasn’t finding much till I spotted a pottery inkwell. It wasn’t old, but something about its blackish-blue color and hexagonal shape intrigued me. The price tag indicated $35 BO. Hmmm. So even though multiple signs in the store indicated that the establishment didn’t negotiate prices, I thought this particular seller MUST entertain “best offers.” So at the checkout counter I boldly indicated that I wanted to make an offer on the piece. One woman tapped the “no negotiation” sign taped to the counter while the other said “We don’t negotiate.” CURIOUS. I countered with “but the tag indicates ‘best offer.’ “ One woman looked at the tag and slowly smiled, “No that stands for Bo. Bo is the owner of the piece.”
I felt rather deflated after this. And frankly put off by the store’s policy. I told them I’d pass on the piece. (I mean HONESTLY!!)
On Sunday, I tried to redeem my Texas thrifting experience by going to an old standby, a neighborhood Goodwill thrift store. Well, I think you might be guessing the outcome…I wasn’t successful there either. It was slim, slim pickings…mostly clothes (which I’m not buying right now), generic drinking glasses and Made in China flotsam. My only find (which I bought and managed to get home safely in my luggage) was a small, stylized bisque pitcher in excellent condition.
But (and this is a big BUT) while my picking experiences in Texas weren’t too positive, I did have a super great time with my brothers and that was the main purpose of the trip afterall 🙂
How about you…any luck thrifting while on vacation??