Auction expert and star of Discovery Channel's "Auction Kings" is the go-to guy when it comes to delving into the world of unique items -- and revealing hidden treasures. As our special guest blogger, Paul is sharing his secrets on how to shop smart at flea market and estate sales...
Paul says, "It's a big country and there's a lot of stuff in it. We all have stuff, and it doesn't matter where you live. If you're young or old, rich or poor, no matter your background, we all have stuff. Here are a few tips for your next trip to a flea market or estate sale."
1. Create a Budget
When you decide to go on your flea market adventure, set a budget. Take 20, 60 or even 100 hundred dollars with you in small bills. And leave your debit and credit cards at home.
2. Have a List
It helps to have a list of objects you're looking for. This doesn't mean you can't buy that cool, unexpected object, but it will stop you from buying a set of dishes similar to a set you already have gathering dust in the basement or attic. We all have stuff, but nobody wants more of the same stuff.
3. Do Your Homework
If you have a Wedgwood pitcher at the top of your list, or a Stacy Lambert face jug, know what to look for. If you can recognize the markings, that will tell you right away that you're holding an authentic item, it makes your adventure that much more successful.
4. Take Your Time
It's easy to go through a garage sale quickly because it can seem like just a bunch of stuff. Look at each item slowly and be sure to go through boxes and check dresser drawers. You never know what is hidden in the back of a dresser drawer. Having a good eye is a part of the game.
5. Look Past the Years
After 20, 80 or even 100 years, items become worn and dirty. These are the items that can be overlooked at a flea market. If you're willing to do the work to bring an object back to its original form, you can walk away with the deal of a lifetime.
6. Don't Settle
It's pretty easy in the moment to buy an object that isn't on your list or not in working order. Be flexible, because you never know what treasure might be hidden in the back of a dresser drawer, but keep your eye out for the exact object you're looking for. Nobody needs more broken stuff at home.
7. Old vs. New
In many cases, older items are better made. For a fraction of the cost of a new item, you can find high-quality gardening tools, workshop tools, or extra appliances at a flea market.
Estate sales can be a great place to negotiate for a discount. The sellers want to get rid of everything, so don't be shy and offer a lower price. The later in the day, the greater the discount you might receive, and the last day of a show is a good time to get a good deal. Take the price, cut it in half, add 10%, and that's a good first bid. And keep in mind that some sellers worked hard to restore their items and some may have an attachment to them, so don't be rude or disrespectful when bargaining.
9. Your Smartphone
Here's another use for your smartphone -- keep eBay bookmarked and check it regularly. It's free, and a good way to determine what similar objects are selling for on the Internet.
Don't miss an all-new season of "Auction Kings," returning to Discovery on Wednesday, April 25 at 10 PM ET/PT.
For more on Paul and his crew, visit the "Auction Kings" at Discovery.com .
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