This weekend my husband Mark and I celebrated a quarter-century of marriage, which went by way too fast (both the weekend and the past 25 years).

My husband is not by nature a thrift-store browser, yard sale stalker or junker in general. 
Although our oldest son has recently told us he proudly lives the "Thrift Life" (I'm afraid I took him on way too many yard sales as a child) and is thinking of getting that tattooed across his knuckles - we laughed, we think he's kidding, we hope he's kidding.

Although my husband has never quite understood my love of finding the unwanted to re-sell, re-purpose or even use in our own home, he has learned that my particular crazy isn't all bad.

Over the years it has gained him some vintage Le Creuset pans (lucky me, he loves to cook) a few funky ties and even some spending money when I find something to put in my Etsy shop and it sells.

He used to roll his eyes at the things I find and buy, particularly some of the oddities I have sold on Etsy. But after a particular Saturday, he stopped teasing me quite so much.

I came home super-excited, clutching a plastic bag with such enthusiasm he was sure I'd found something that was going to put us on the next episode of Antiques Roadshow, where they would reveal I had discovered something worth millions.

Me: I had the best morning!

Mark: What did you find? It's that good?

Me: A whole bag of old refrigerator magnets!

Mark: ...What?

Me: For only a dollar! Can you believe it?

Mark: Yes.

I dumped out the bag on the kitchen table and presented the pile to him like King Midas's treasure.

Me: Look! There are a bunch of sets I can put together. A full set of Flintstones characters! For crying out loud, there are original Smurfs here, man!

Mark: ...

Me: I will bet you that I will sell about a dozen sets of magnets out of this one bag I got for a dollar  for $6 to $10 dollar a set.

This got his attention.

Mark: So you will make almost $100 if you sell all the sets at an average of $8 a set?

Me: Yes.

Mark: That's a hell of a profit margin. If you do that, I may not make fun of the stuff you bring home...as much. 

I sold them all. 

Now if I bring home something weird and he starts to make fun of it, I yell "magnets" and he stops his eyes in mid roll and concedes to the possibility my weirdness will pad the Pay Pal account.

So, if I try not to bring home too much weirdness to clutter the house, and he happily cooks in his vintage Le Crueset and tries not to roll his eyes too much, we may enjoy another 25. 

I'd even bet a whole bag of old refrigerator magnets on it.


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Carol Ann's Corner

Carol Ann's Corner
Tips from our favorite shop keeper

Real or Reproduction

As you are hunting around for treasure at yard sales and flea markets, you will come across things that make you wonder if they are original or reproductions. It can be hard to tell.

These are a couple tip offs.

One, does it look a little worn? It should if its really antique or vintage. Even the best kept china got moved around in the cabinet, the doll's vinyl body and hair faded a bit, or the lunch box got a little rust around the hinges. If it looks shiny and new, chances are it is.

Two, are there a lot of them? If you are in a shop or flea market stall and there are ten of the items you've been looking for and haven't been able to find...they have probably been manufactured. Unless you are at a reputable dealer who specializes in that item, then you may have hit the jackpot for your particular collectible.

A good way to gauge if it is a reputable dealer is they will be happy to answer your questions about if the item is authentic or not, and how you can tell. A dealer with a passion and knowledge about that item, will enjoy explaining that all to you. A disreputable dealer, not so much.

Carol Ann Miller
Proprietor, Miller's Fine Antiques

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