Last year we had so much fun visiting our friends Karen & Eric and going to the Fryeburg Fair Flea Market and comparing everyone’s “finds”, Eric had an idea to do an “American Pickers” style competition when we went again this year. So this was the weekend for our picking challenge.
First, let’s meet the pickers:
Karen (the expert): She has the “eye.” There’s no competing with her, honestly. She’s been a successful picker for many years. Why am I showing the back of her? Because she is a serious picker folks! No time to pause for a photo. (I’m not kidding). Every photo I have is her reaching for something, digging through boxes or haggling with a dealer. So I went with the first picture I took at seven in the morning, already scoping out a weathered set of sidelights.
Eric (the sherpa): He’s Karen’s husband and is in every way a “sherpa.” He carries the loads, responds to every beck and call and takes care of the whole team. He’s the true definition of an unsung hero.
Eric (the basketmaker): Many of you don’t know that Eric has a knack for finding that hidden gem. He knows when it’s a good buy and when it’s not. (Notice he is wearing one of his Antique Archaeology t-shirts. One of his students, Christy, bought him his first one and also the second one after she read my rant on this blog about how he wore it so much it was all ratty. He now has three.)
Lynne (the basketmaker’s wife): I’m pretending to know what I’m doing. Also, it was already hot even though it was early in the morning. I’m in a long sleeve shirt, hat (so is Karen) and scarf to deter all the mosquitoes! They have been in full force — nothing like I’ve ever seen in New England.
Second, I will give you a quick, de facto, short-story version (if that’s possible) of our connection with Karen (the expert) & Eric (the sherpa). I met them when I bought an obscenely large antique and vintage store up in Maine. They both instantly befriended me — and it wasn’t weeks after I moved in. It was immediately after I signed the closing documents on the building which was well before I made the move to the state of Maine over ten years ago.
If it wasn’t for them, I would be sleeping on an 1880’s store floor until I built my little loft in the back of this huge, 11,000 square foot building. I had no idea what I just got myself in to! But I now know, they sure did! And that I would be desperately in need of a few helping hands to make this work. And they, without hesitation, volunteered for this role. Both Karen and Eric were there every step of the way on my journey to a completely different life. And when Eric (the basketmaker) came along, they loved him as much as I did. One day, I promise I will post more stories about my Maine experience. Now back to our picking challenge.
Entrance to the Fryeburg Fairgrounds in Maine.
So we were all up at 6:00 am this morning and about 6:45, Karen was getting itchy, pointing to her watch, proclaiming “We need to go!” So we were out the door and at the fairgrounds by 7:00 a.m., where Karen jumped out before the vehicle came to a stop! (She was in a panic because there were already quite a few cars parked and people walking around!)
I must point out that three of us (not Karen) were there just to find the “best pick” for our competition. Karen was there because it’s her job! I was not kidding — she is an expert picker. She sells at Harry Barker’s in Bridgton, Maine and online. You can find her here. She sells at other places as well, but I cannot keep track! So we’ll start with those that I have bookmarked. Please note that if you see something you like, you need to get it right away since she’s very popular and has a huge following across the country. (I’m so jealous).
- That’s me on the left with the dark shadows created by the rising sun that early in the morning; Karen digging through boxes that have not been unloaded and on the right, this is her “serious face” because she is doing what she does best – negotiating the best box lot price! (she normally has a bright smile on her face but not during the haggling phase!)
- Flea Markets are full of interesting stuff. Karen snagged all these jugs that had different nameplates on each one; If our small bungalow was not busting at the seams, these crates would be mine.
- Flea Markets are also filled with the bizarre. Like a one-man country karaoke band under a tent. Or the picture I like to call “Printers & Pirates” with Karen & Eric behind a row of printers and in front of life-size celebrity pirates. And how about the bottom pic — I’m thinking this dealer is a recovering hoarder. Just park the truck next to your table and let people sift.
It’s always a good day at any flea market for us penny-pinchers. Which brings me back to the point: Our Picker Challenge. We had to buy one item with a maximum dollar amount of $20 and we had about two hours. Below are the four items we submitted and are being judged by an independent, esteemed two-person panel (my brother and his wife) as I write.
- A working 1937 Air King wooden radio. Purchased for $20.
- Ethereal statue the picker titled “Wishful Thinking”. Purchased for $3.
- Vintage golf putter. Purchased for $3.
- Cast iron mirror. Purchased for $5.
I will post the winning “find” (and the not-so-good-purchase) tomorrow.
Who do you think bought which item?