How do I become a picker?

How do I become a picker?  Since the hit of the TV show American Picker, Which I personally love!, I get asked this question all of the time.  Today I am going to share with you my personally start in picking treasures for resale.

My whole world changed the day my mom decided to go into the antiques business.  She rented a little corner of a building from an Englishmen who imported furniture from Europe.  The store was located in Fountain Valley, Calif.  He didn’t have any small decorative items for sale, only furniture, so he figured adding my mom would help cover that need as well as have someone to help him keep his huge warehouse open a few days a week.  When my mom got started I was all of about 13 or 14 years old.  To fill up her little space My mom would go garage sale hunting for items.  She would get me up early on a saturday morning and we would hit the yard sales.

My mom had a real eye for treasure hunting, she was really great at finding higher end cool pieces.  It’s safe to say that my mom started my love of all things old and used.  After awhile I started picking antiques on my own.  I had a fascination with vintage clothing and costume early costume jewelry so these are the items I purchased.  At the time I was in high school and really enjoyed alternative music, punk and of course a little rockabilly.  All of this influenced what I was buying and of course wearing!  FYI: The influences of what people are watching and listening to today still influence designers and collectors.  So here I was about 14 years old and picking treasures to resell as well as add to my personal collection.

The beauty of picking is that treasures don’t know your age or how much money you have!  I probably started out with less than $20.00.   Anyone can still do this today!

So how do I become a picker?  You start small, you look in your local classifieds, you go to garage sales and Flea markets and you look for vintage items or antique items that are in very good condition.  You start by choosing a category you love.  Example for me vintage clothing.  Maybe you love ceramics or tramp art whatever your passionate about start studying everything you can about that subject and look for that item at every sale you can find.  It is also important to study up on current retail prices so you know when you are getting a fantastic deal.

When you find a great deal…. bring your $20.00 and buy it!  This is how you become a picker!  I would also suggest that you educate yourself by watching shows like American Picker, Auction wars, Antiques Road show to name a few.  The more you know the better!

How did you become a picker?  I would love to hear your story, please post me a note!

Happy treasure hunting everyone!


About Recycled by Leanne

I have been in the second hand business for over 30 years! I started as a teenage picker with my mom, opened my first retain business at 21 and have has over a dozen successful businesses with used items, from antiques, thrift shops, auctions, consignment stores and more! My blog is to help and empower others whether just starting out or you are also a veteran in the industry! I want to help your business grow!
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3 Responses to How do I become a picker?

  1. What a great story Leanne, thanks for sharing. I am a picker… Phoenix Picker to be exact. I get a lot of my inventory from Goodwill, thrift stores or garage/estate sales. You can also find items on eBay, Craigslist and your local swap shop on Facebook. I found the best way to educate myself is to watch others on YouTube. I subscribed to fellow picker’s channels and watch them every day. We share our knowledge and experiences with each other which helps us grow as pickers. Take a moment and head over to YouTube and type in Phoenix Picker. Thanks again for sharing your picking experience Leanne.

  2. Rebecca Dunkin says:

    I am a single mother if 3 lovely girls and I started going to estate sales and flea makets and picking up peoples iteams that they have placed out for the trash. I sm addicted. Hopefully this can go from just my ppassion to a career and something to leave to my girls should they decide to follow my path. If you could just answer one question, the only junk yards I can find are for junk cars. Any advise on locating good picks. Do I just need to hit the streets….Thankyou

    • HI rebecca! thank you for sharing your story. I Have 3 lovely daughters too! they grew up around this business and now enjoy it as much as I do. I love that you are finding FREEgans (my term for great free stuff) I have made some great deals on goodies we have picked up for FREE. For me probably the best finds come from Garage sales, thirft stores or Estate sales, But you can find me at flea markets too! But I think the real question should be how and were to I sell my stuff! A few years back I was living in a rural part of Idaho for a couple of months. I hit the thrift shops and found women jeans for under $5 and resold them on ebay for 15+ dollars a pair of course for better brands I did closer to $25.00 I started hunting all of the thrift shops in the area and hitting weekly garage sales and before you know it I had a pretty good little recycled jeans business! 🙂

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