Review – The Picker’s Bible

Ever wonder what a ‘picker’ really does, where he finds sources for all that wonderful stuff, and how he finds buyers?

Ever marvel at all the beautiful things in an antique store, and wonder how the dealer came to have it all?

This marvelous book provides the answers. Author Joe Willard’s an experienced picker (and collector) and spills all his secrets on the business of antiques – and more specifically, finding, buying and selling them – and staying in business.

You know the obvious places to look for antique & vintage stuff (and even good new stuff), right? – thrift stores, garage and estate sales, etc. – but there are many other sources you may never have been aware of as well. Joe Willard tells you all about them.

The Picker's Bible by Joe WillardAnd, there are better ways to find and interact with the obvious sources, too. Joe tells us how to get to those sellers, and get the good stuff you want, before anyone else ever sees it or even knows about it.

Joe explains how to approach various sources, and how to cultivate a network of dealers, other pickers, and other collectors who will help you achieve you goals. These are the people who can supply you with the goods, and who will buy them from you.

He goes into the ethics of buying and selling, plus the benefits and drawbacks of picking. He tells you what to think about, what situations to avoid, and how to recognize and seize the opportunities that come your way – ones that will pass you right by if you aren’t alert to them. You’ll get tips on how to negotiate, price goods for sale (even if you’ve never seen another and there’s no price guide available), and trade up.

Picker’s Bible: How To Pick Antiques Like the Pros doesn’t deal with any specific type of antique; it isn’t a price guide and doesn’t tell you what to buy. (It assumes you already know the sort of things you’re looking for.)

However, there is a short chapter on book picking, which, as a longtime bookseller (and collector) I found to be well written, if brief. This book scouting chapter gives some basic information about looking for books at thrifts, library sales, and estate sales. If you’ve been buying books for long, you likely won’t find much in the way of new information in this chapter. If you’ve never thought abut buying books for resale before, you’ll be alerted to that field of collecting/buying, and get the bare bones of how it works/where to look for books. However, if you want details about book scouting, check out a book such as Book Finds, by Ian Ellis.

If you’re just thinking of becoming an antiques picker – or a dealer, you’ll find this book packed with ideas on how to locate merchandise, and buyers. If you’ve been in the business for a while, you may still find it useful to get a fresh perspective, and I’d be surprised if you don’t come away with some new ideas on sourcing antiques.

Like antiques, but don’t want to go into the antiques business? There’s stuff here that’s valuable to a collector too – just think of collecting as as picking, not to make a living, but for your own pleasure. You can buy in the same ways a picker does, and find better stuff, if you know how.

The one weak spot in this book is the very little info about using the internet to find antiques. However, many of the real-world methods Joe describes can also be easily adapted for online use. (And, there are so many books available about buying and selling on the internet that a deep explanation isn’t absolutely necessary here.)

I’m a collector and, for about the past 12 years, a part-time dealer in a couple specialty antiques areas (and with a continual thirst for learning about, and occasionally selling, other types of antiques). I don’t plan on becoming a professional picker, who regularly resells to antiques dealers, but rather ‘picking’ for my own business, and collections. I quickly devoured this book, and got some great ideas from it which I know I will use. I’ve already come back to it a number of times to review, and get more ideas, and think it was a very worthwhile investment of a few dollars.

Picker’s Bible is broken into small, topical sections which allow you to find information quickly, and is engagingly written. Reading Joe Willard’s advice feels a bit like sitting down with an old, experienced picker friend who’s agreed to let you in on his secrets & hard-earned tips for picking like a pro.

You can find Picker’s Bible: How To Pick Antiques Like the Pros at Amazon.

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