Monday, June 2, 2014

Trash Pile Picking Tips

I started collecting VHS when I was 6 years old, and while the collecting market booms on internet forums and eBay, I still get a few questions from collectors new to the field. While most pickers may not share their tips, I feel the more the merrier. It increases exposure of the medium, and keeps the format alive. Over the few years that I've been hunting throughout New England I've found a few couple tips that I've wanted to pass on to new collectors, and maybe some tips for those who have been hunting for awhile!

1. General politeness can lead to a better haul:

It seems like a 'duh' thing, but saying things like "please" and "thank you" shows a considerable amount of character, especially with older vendors. Manners show a level of respect that can break down most walls of communication (i.e. negotiating), and can sometimes bring about our next tip.

2. Always ask if they have more, know other collectors or other stores around:

There's been many times I've found a thrift store or Craigslist posting that was a bit of a drive away, and returned empty handed. To try and get the best out of your hunt that day strike up a conversation with the vendor, person, whomever and start asking questions about the area, or maybe how long they've had the tapes. From there they may know more stores, or other collectors who may know and so on.

3. Research:

Going back 20 years ago there was a Mom & Pop video store in every town, sometimes two. Now you'd be hard pressed to find an open one, let alone one that still rents VHS. I've found the best area to start your hunt is around vacation destinations, for instance: In New Hampshire I hunt around ski resorts and the Winnipesaukee region. While you may only find one or two active VHS rental facilities, most stores have sold their stock off to the public.

From there, most VHS will end up at your local Savers, Goodwill or Thrift Store. Then it's off to find nearby flea markets and yard sales. You won't strike gold every time, but this will lead in a good direction.

4. Always be prepared:

While you may never know how many items you could be going home with, it's best to prepare appropriately. Always carry extra tote bags in your car. Whether it's a cheap tote from your local grocer, or one of these Tom Bihn bags like I keep in my car. You never know if a vendor will be out of bags, so it's good to keep extras around.

A bag may not be the only thing you'll need. I keep a notebook in my car to jot down any notes about a particular trip, or if I need to pass my number out for future picks. Having a couple pens and a notebook handy can avoid headaches down the road.

As always be loaded up on:
  1. Water
  2. Protein snack (jerky, nuts, bar, etc.)
  3. CA$H (Plenty of ones, but don't skimp on $5, $10 bills and quarters too)
  4. Change of clothes (You may not need it, but not every picking location is Howard Hughes clean.)
5. Clean up after yourself:

Lastly, the most important tip I can give is to clean up after yourself. By that, I mean if you walk into a shop/flea/etc., don't leave the section worse than when you started. Not only does this create more work for the employees, it's also a headache for any other pickers that may happen through your stop.

There has been many trips that have been cut short due to other pickers leaving a mess of the store.

We're not all out there trying to find the rarest of the rare, but when going hunting remember that there are other collectors like you. There's no reason to complicate it for others, so be respectful of not only fellow pickers but the shop owners as well.

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