But for the most part, we stick to yard sales, flea markets and thrift stores. And buying stuff cheap that we can resell is still the name of the game and we do alright with it. (See my previous "Secrets of the Hunt" posts on how to do this, if you don't know already...)
But that's not really "picking"; that is, buying things that aren't actually for sale with a price tag already on it. To me, to be a picker, means that you have to find the vintage that's not already for sale and get the seller to part with it. You have to get to know people, knock on doors and just ask around to buy stuff.
More and more, I think this is going to be the way to go for those of us in this business. We all know that it's getting harder to find good stuff in thrift stores and yard sales. Stuff from before 1960 is just no longer that abundant in the second-hand marketplace.
With that in mind, try to think a little bit outside the box when it comes to buying vintage.
1) Make conversation with people. Oftentimes, even close friends and relatives don't realize how into this stuff you are. Even acquiantances and friendly people you see at thrift stores or yard sales. Remember my Giant Lamp? Well, it turns out the lady I bought that from invited me to go through her house and pick out some of the furniture that wasn't for sale yet. I've got an incredible late 1950s hi-fi coming my way from there.
2) Have a business card made. Even in this tech-crazy age, the act of giving someone your card strikes them with a permanence that they remember. They put it aside and when they have something to sell, they can pick it up and give you a call. I had 200 business cards made online for less than $20, and I think they've paid for themselves many times over.
3) Ask, Ask, Ask! The other day I stopped at a yard sale. It was two ladies in their 70s selling a bunch of kid stuff. Now, the last thing I need is more kid stuff. But more than anything, it was the incongruity of the situation that made me stop. I walked through all the tables of toys and racks of clothing and realized this was two ladies who had a children's consignment store they were liquidating. Not really seeing anything I needed, I did notice in the back of the garage was some items covered in old bedspreads. Obviously, they had covered the tools/snowblowers/etc. that were not for sale to keep people from trying to buy them.
However, it wasn't the tools, but the bedspread itself that I wanted:
I think the ladies were dumbfounded when I asked to buy the bedspread they covered the snowblower with! I offered them a few bucks and they happily took it- they had no idea anyone would want something like that. To them, it had no value at all, so to get $3 for it was a bonus- and a win for me! It's a large full/queen art deco pattern chenille, and in a tan/burgundy color scheme- perfect for my bedroom! (Sure beats covering up a snowblower!)