Won-ok and I got up early on a recent Saturday and pounded the streets in our Silver Spring, Maryland neighborhood during a community- wide yard sale. We’re always on the prowl for great stuff to buy and sell and it’s not often that we get to do so in our own back yard. The first dozen sales we visited tanked. Nothing there for us.
We hit pay dirt on the next stop, catching a former foreign correspondent for a newspaper (yes, that job used to exist) just as he was setting up. He was late to the party and it worked out perfectly for us. We had a pocket full of cash we were itching to spend. He had a bunch of stuff he brought home from around the globe that he wanted to ditch and he didn’t much care about the money. We bought a bunch of beautiful wooden masks from Central America, African spears, Central American knives and a killer lamp from Haiti in the form of a face.
Our new friend told us about his career as an old-fashioned news man and I couldn’t get enough. I was a journalist once and still miss it to this day. Then he pointed me to a stunning stone sculpture of a green bear eating a white fish while standing in a river running through a mountain. I absolutely loved it. I stood in waters exactly like that in Alaska in 1991 and wish I had been able to witness a scene like that in person. I wanted the piece.
“I picked this up in Anchorage,” the scribe said.
Oh my goodness. I no longer wanted it: I needed it.
“I paid $300 for it,” he said. I’d take $100.”
I almost sprained my fingers reaching into my pockets so hard and so fast. It was beautiful. I damn near cried. I told him I would keep it for the rest of my life. I’m still fired up. That is my kind of art – wildlife, especially items that bring back memories of critters I’ve seen and ground I’ve walked.
We took several other wildcard items on consignment – a nifty lamp made in Israel and a huge, heavy wood window with shutters from southern India. He wanted them gone and we had no idea what to pay, or if we could find the buyers.
The old-school journalist invited us into his house to see a few things he was not selling, including a limited edition print made by the handprint of none other than Nelson Mandela. Incredible. I got to see Mandela speak in Atlanta after he got out of prison. I don’t remember the context of what he said but I remember how everyone in the stadium seemed to feel: We were touched and united by the power of his humble words.
Won-ok and I were both pumped, buying and consigning authentic, funky and uncommon items. Those are what make our work rewarding. Love stuff like what we bought from our new neighborhood friend. We both also noticed how much we easily left alone — bottom feeder, boring items that we would have scooped up in our infancy. Yes we could have bought milk glass for $.50 apiece but why? It’s boring and hard to sell.
We made a few more stops in our neighborhood, handed out more business cards, returned home, added an antique Chinese desk to the fresh merchandise packed in the car and cruised toward Copper Fox Antiques in Sperryville, Virginia. We sell a lot of furniture and a ton of china there. Two-thirds of the way down the road, the delightful scent of grilled hotdogs and hamburgers wafted into the windows of our Prius. We saw that the Fauquier County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was hosting a fundraiser. Orion’s Attic is named after a shelter-rescued dog and we love to help animal charities when we can. We were also hungry! We bought a few hotdogs and some chips, handed the SPCA a $20 bill and told the volunteer to keep the $15 change because we appreciated what the organization does. I even got to give a friendly pooch of good old-fashioned belly rub.
We reached Copper Fox, took care of business there and began to make our way back home. We caught at a moving sale on our way out, bought a little sculpture and marveled at a painting of a bear standing in a nearby Shenandoah Mountains stream done by the artist homeowner. He said he priced the piece at $2,000 in a gallery but was downsizing and selling a bunch of his work at half off. I almost shook his hand but I knew I should not be spending $1,000 on another bear for me right now. A $100 bear, okay, but not a four-figure bear. Still, it was beautiful. I loved seeing it and talking to the creator about its origin.
We made our last stop at a local farmer’s market to pick up a freshly baked apple pie. It was the perfect way to end a “beary” good day.
Know someone who needs an estate sale or has great stuff to sell? Want to find out about our future events? Check out OrionsAttic.com today!