I rarely go looking for pickables at antique stores. The dealers running those shops are pros. Most have been picking (or buying and reselling from pickers) since before I could walk. One is more likely to find affordable stuff to resell on eBay or Amazon in the dumpster than over at the antique shop. In fact, you can usually find items similar (or exactly the same) as those in antique stores for much, much less on eBay.
So, low and behold, my wife really wanted to check out this vintage lamp she saw in the window at a nearby antique store, and I figured I would tag along and maybe get a few ideas about items that may be more valuable than I have previously anticipated. You know, do some recon. Antique stores may not be good for picking, but you can definitely learn a thing or two about cashing in on old junk there.
I usually spend my time checking out old toys or metal lunch boxes in these situations, and sure enough, in a dusty corner I find a relatively dilapidated box of some old civil war toy soldier playset from the 1970s. The box was chock full of little plastic soldiers and cannons and even a tin house, all in great condition. I'm sure you know what I did next.
That's right, a quick iPhone check and I learned I was looking at the Sears Heritage The Blue & The Gray play set made by Marx. I also quickly learned that this set appeared nearly complete (I didn't actually count the pieces there in the store). Most importantly, I got to see that previous completed auctions of this exact toy, with a box often in much worse condition (or no box at all), had sold on eBay for over $100!
I inquired with the proprietor of the store about the price, and he told me $30. Did I buy it on the spot? Hell no! I brokered a deal the brought the price down to $25 bucks. I did, however, end up paying his full asking price for the lamp for my wife. Can't win 'em all.
Later that week, I counted all the pieces (a few were missing from the complete set), took lots of photographs, did a little more research, made my eBay listing, and crossed my fingers. How does this story end?
Click image to enlarge. Hint: $190 plus shipping!