The stuff we accumulate in life seems to fall into two categories if TV is to be believed. We're either sitting on hidden treasures (see Antiques Roadshow or Comic Book Men) or we're a nation with terrible symptoms of OCD, (see Hoarders). However as Craigslist and eBay have proved, we probably all own something of value to someone else. With the Christmas season approaching, I wondered what we might all have in our homes that are of value, so I spoke P and J's Oddities owner Patrick D'Amore about what to look for if you're seeking top dollar when unloading your stuff this winter. Socialite Jayne Barry-Smyth pointed me in his direction when I asked her about how she downsized her sizable collection of souvenirs. "The best thing about doing business with Patrick is the breadth and diversity of his knowledge regarding the items he lists on Ebay --- and his limitless enthusiasm for this market."
What are some things that almost everyone has on their home that is of value/sells well?
Oy! What a question...on average, and this is the first thing that visually comes to mind: Pyrex or Fire-King mixing or nesting bowls from the '50s, '60s and '70s. They were standard wedding gifts during these decades and every virginal bride went into her new home with a set regardless of social class. If properly taken care of they can last for generations and are oft passed down and coveted treasures within families. From a decorating standpoint, they also are quite sleek and awesome on display. As a collectible, a set in very good condition can run anywhere between $150-250 depending on pattern and colors.
How did you get into the business?
I've loved anything old for as long as I can remember and by the time I was 10 I could identify porcelain and glassware without books while my buds were playing Super Mario and identifying girls. Although I'd been buying everything from Towering Inferno posters to Versace shoes since 1998, seriously selling on eBay started after college. I had became a bit depressed, anxious and uncertain about life and a therapist at the time had recommended buying and reselling antiques as a hobby which might alleviate the angst and I took him up on it, by 2006 I had around 700 or 800 feedbacks when a co-worker asked me if I could sell items from his mother's estate after her death for a share of the profits. I accepted, he told others and one client suddenly became five and I suddenly had a part-time job in addition to a full-time job...and lots of STUFF...other people's STUFF, from delicate 19th c. porcelains to vintage Playboys, and in one case a giant and creepy illuminated crucifix adorned with Rhinestones. Italian and from the 1920s. I remember that, as the subtitle in my listing on eBay was: "Go To Your Closet & Pray Carrie!"
You do an amazing job curating each item. What goes into that process?
The love and respect for each item entrusted to me. They all have a story to tell, regardless as to the item being 10, 50 or 100 years old. Granted some items get loved on a little more thoroughly than others - for example I spent the majority of this day researching and photographing a container of antique costume jewelry received yesterday. But that love and respect for your merchandise is most important! It makes the hours of researching and photography easier to undertake. And that jewelry with which I wiled away the day will reap some substantial rewards to a client who is in desperate need of funds, economy willing.
What are the biggest rewards?
The relationships I have built and maintained with my clients throughout the years. I adore people as much as I adore other people's stuff. Jayne is a good example of such a relationship - she was Gloria Steinham's roommate in college! It's fantastic and satisfying to know I played a part in assisting someone downsizing their life to ease their soul, to know my work allowed someone else's life to become a bit easier is the biggest reward - When you think about it, not too far off from the social work path, huh?
What would you (and should readers), be looking for going into the Christmas season?
In all fairness, I never know what will sell well and what will tank. As much as I hate the cliche one man's trash in another's treasure (after all my clients don't have trash!) it does ring true within a collectible setting. Collectibles are only worth what one is willing to pay for them (Factor in that "one" also having access to a computer and sitting down to buy something on eBay). I will say this: At this time of year I always keep "holiday gathering" items close within inventory - Especially china/dinnerware pieces from popular sets, crystal and silverware and DECORATIONS - Now is the time to start unloading them - Speaking of which I have a quite a few decoration listings to start next week!