Tools of the Trade

First off I want to show you what I take with me on my hunting expeditions.  Tools are essential whenever you go out and give you an air of professionalism that shows that you mean business.

1.  Swag Bag

First thing you want to have when you go out “pickin” is a sturdy bag to carry all your swag in.  I prefer a standard messenger bag for this as it is comfortable, has numerous pockets and is easy to access.

2.  “Pickin” Gloves

Gloves are another useful item that actually comes in handy when you have to dig into boxes full of crap.  Sometimes literally!  I have found broken plastic, glass, ceramic and trash (including a used diaper) when I have looked through items.  Gloves will keep the worst of it off you but you might want to add some hand sanitizer for casual handling.

3.  Money Pouch

A handy thing to have to keep you from having to reach into your pockets every time you want to handle money.  Most of the time the things you will find  at the flea market and other such places, will be very cheap.  Most things will be under $10 so having a pouch to hold a few singles and some loose change will be really convenient.

4.  Jeweler’s Loupe

This is not an essential tool for pickin’ but I like to have it to check out fine details on things.  Good for finding dates on figs, cracks in glass or ceramics and to make you look cool and professional when you inspect all the worthless crap that people are selling.

5.  Comfortable Clothes/Shoes

This is a must.  Weather will determine what people will be out hawking their wares.  Rain will keep people away as will heat and cold.  A good hat will keep your head cool in the summer and warm in the winter.  Comfortable shoes are important since you’ll often be walking or standing around checking out stuff.  If it’s cold or rain I will use a jacket with a lot of pockets but that’s just me.  I keep it simple and nondescript when I dress.  You don’t want to look like you have a lot of money to spend but don’t want to look like you’re going to waste the vendor’s time counting your pennies.

6.  The Right Attitude

Just because these people are unloading a bunch of their old stuff doesn’t mean you should treat them or their things like crap.  A lot of vendors are just trying to make a buck selling their stuff and will work with you if you let them, but there are others who take their selling seriously.  I have found a lot of old memories and beloved items that you can see they don’t want to part with.  I try and remind myself that I may be buying the toys of a child who passed or the clothes that remind someone of a better time.  If they want a little more than I’m normally willing to spend, then I may shell out a little more.

On the other hand, there are some vendors who have no idea what they have and are just selling to sell.  Lots of stores sell pallets of outdated merchandise, broken or damaged items or returned items.  They buy these things in bulk then sift through the items to make a quick buck.  The items are usually mixed up so you have no idea what you’re getting.  This can work out in your favor.

I have found some of my best items in the most random of places because it was something extra that came with whatever the vendor was trying to buy.  So, should you manage to find something exciting in the midst of the trash, don’t freak out and show how much you want that item.  That signals to the vendor that they can jack up the price because they know its something you want.  Play it cool and check everything thing out.  Be willing to haggle and you’ll find that most of the time you’ll score big!

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