Sunday, November 22, 2009

How are Antique Stores in Your Area?

I have spent the last two Saturdays going to a few antique stores looking for items for myself as well as for my Bonanzle booth. I figured with the holidays coming, I would not be able to spend much time on the booth. If I was going to find more stock, it seemed to me that my best bet would be some antique dealers who don't specialize in series books.
Last Saturday, I decided to venture to the little town of Cambridge, MD. It sits on the southern bank of the Choptank River, and is one of the oldest cities on Maryland's Eastern Shore. It is about a 70 minute trip, but I knew of an antique store and a used book store, both of which have proven to be good places for series books. I walked into the antique center in Cambridge, to find the workers busy trying to take care of a leaky roof. There must be about a hundred vendors in the old building, and I started looking. First, I found some matte yellow spine Nancy Drews, most from the seventies, but in good shape and inexpensively priced. I plan on grouping these into lots of two and three and pricing them to move. My surprise came when I walked into the second room.
A book dealer with a huge inventory had moved in, and as I made my way in I saw the children's books in the corner. My biggest yield of the day was made in this booth. I bought dust jacketed Nancys, 3 Rick Brants, the Kay Traceys spotlighted in my blog last week, some Judy Boltons, and more yellow spine Nancy PCs. Prices were very reasonable, and I found books for myself as well as my booth. I left there with a box full of books.
The used book store proved to have two books I purchased for myself. I picked up a copy of an old Grosset and Dunlap copy of Tom Slade in the North Woods. I was interested in this one because the hero goes to the Adirondacks to set up a Scout camp. I vacation in the Adirondacks every year, and have had an almost thirty year love affair with the region. Some winter day I will pick this one up to read. I also found a copy of The Adventure Girls at K-Bar -O. It is the more common Saalfield printing, but Jennifer has spoken of the series, and I thought I would give it a try.
On the way home, I impulsively stopped at a store on the main highway that normally has very little since many stop here going to the beach. It was here, however, that I found my second big score of the day. Sitting on a shelf in a corner sat the four jacketless thick blue Nancy Drews that I spoke of in my last blog. I was quite happy with the day's haul, and like a hunter with a nice antlered buck in the back of his pickup, I went home feeling quite proud of myself.
Yesterday I took off again for another book hunt. I had decided to try an antique center located between Baltimore and Washington, DC. I had not been there for eleven years, but inspired by my previous luck, I set off. Unfortunately, luck did not repeat itself. The antique center had changed since my last visit, and was full of silver, jewelry and Depression glass. Not a book in sight, and I left for another antique store, about an hour further away from home. I found two first printing Applewood Judy Boltons, which I did not have, and some Nancy Drew stationary and post cards. Besides that nothing! 8 hours in the car, and a refilled tank later, I returned home pretty empty handed.
I think I will spend more time on Ebay next week, and less time on the road. I think the better deals will be there, and it is a lot easier on me. I will be adding some additional Trixie Beldens and Three Investigators later this week to my Bonanzle booth. I suspect that there will be little movement over the next few weeks due to the holidays, and hope that the New Year provides more "finds" like my first weekend adventure.


  1. I can say that the most satisfying finds are the ones found in person in a store, but those are few and far between for me nowadays. Admittedly, I seldom go to antique shops anymore. Back in the early to mid-1990s, antique shops were where I found my books.

    Now, I find that the inventory rarely changes, and they have few books except for ones that are not even children's books. The bookstores tend to price any children's books way too high. Another problem I have had for around eight years is that my collection has reached an advanced state, so it is very hard to find something that I need in a store.

    I really just have one event per year in which I buy books in person. That is the Friends of the Library booksale, which takes place at the OKC fairgrounds in late February. I always get a lot of books there. You can see some photos of what I got this year in my Facebook account.

    Three months and counting! It is really the highpoint of my book collecting year. Library booksales are worth checking if you have any large ones in your area. My sale is one of the largest library sales in the U.S. with around 500,000 books each year.

    Aside from the library booksale, eBay is still the best place for me to find books, especially cheap ones. With careful searching, lots of bargains can be found.

  2. Before the Internet and eBay, the best way to get books was by advertising in local newspapers and national antique publications. I amassed thousands of books that way.

    Locally, I would drive all over northern Ohio to people's houses and buy vast collections of amazingly good stuff that was stowed away in attics.These collections were of hundreds of books, all series, and mostly in great shape.

    Nationally, I would also buy huge collection by mail. People would mail me collections of hundreds of books, sometimes arriving in many boxes, and I'd pay after seeing them, or in advance, depending on what we had agreed to. These books would come from all over the country.

    After eBay got going, this got harder to do because everybody who had a computer and books in the attic became a dealer. Also, I started having health problems which limited my traveling around. eBay did change 'everything' by making hard-to-get items easily accessible to everybody.

    There probably still are big collections in homes in your areas. I still get calls from ads placed years ago, and still buy some books that way. Advertise in your local newspapers for 'vintage Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and similar kids books' and you may still get a lot of calls and some good buys.

    Of course, the best days were in the 1970s when I traveled a lot in the USA and Canada and there were series books galore everywhere for 50 cents or $1 a copy. I always owned trucks and would fill the beds up under the tonneau covers with purchases while on the road. It was especially fun in Canada where they had editions not seen here and some of them still not generally known about,

    The thirty-year cycle of collections being bought then gotten rid of because of aging and death is about to begin repeating itself again, so I think a lot of books will be available for those willing to go after them.

    It is definitely a 'hunt', and the really good bookhunter will surely be successful.