Going on a trip? If so, be prepared when the time arrives. Be sure you have all the tools in your bag that are essential, like price guides, business cards and a jeweler’s loupe. But that isn’t all the preparation that needs to take place. Be sure that you call ahead to the dealers and others that you know at your destination and along the way.
I am on my way to the Smokies and the rules that I just gave you are the ones I follow when I am away from home. You might ask why you would call ahead and that would be a fair question but there is a reason, I assure you. By calling ahead, the dealers have time to get together items that you might be interested in or hold items back for you to see first when you arrive. This will save you time and also prevent you from searching through lots of pieces that you would have no interest in.
The next item that needs attention is the route of your trip. I get a map and circle where I know I’m stopping and then I go to the computer and search for other destinations that look interesting if I have the time. Don’t over commit time to your business, however, because vacations are usually a family outing. Even if your business is important, your family is far more important. Ask your family members if it is okay to stop along the way and I promise you this: They will only say no if that is all you want to do.
Here is where you really have the advantage on the stops you make. I usually make it completely clear to the dealers that I won’t be back this way far a long time and if we are going to make a trade it has to be now. I have found this very advantageous in making deals because "cash now talks" as the old saying goes. Dealers seem to be willing to make deals with people who are passing through because it is the only shot they have at them and there won’t be a tomorrow.
Since space is usually at a premium, don’t buy just anything and be sure you always save space for that real treasure that might be at your next stop. I have personally found items as I travel that have paid for the trip many times over. When I visited my friend Murray in California, I was able to buy several pieces. The best was a very rare Royal Doulton experimental figurine that later sold for over $5000. If you run out of space, you can always have the dealer ship the items to you.
I have made mistakes in my treasure hunts while on the road and I will share only one of them with you. I was in Florida with my family and my wife’s parents and to make me happy they took me to a flea market. I ran into a dealer who had two Weller water sprinklers, one a duck and the other I think a frog. He was head up east and needed to make a sale, so after much negotiation he quoted a price of $5000 each. I considered the offer for a long time, even browsing the rest of the show, before going back and telling the dealer that I would pass. It was only a few months later that I saw these very pieces sold at auction, one for $17,000 and the other $15,000. That wasn’t a happy day for me but it did make me trust my first opinion more often.
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