Hillbilly pickers and the smell from hell

Posted by Meghan in Junk In My Trunk, Sale Tales | 13 Comments

Before last Saturday, Jenny and I hadn’t been to sales in months … I don’t think that is 100% true, but nothing blogworthy. We have had some book reports planned, but that usually ends up being us talking about book reports vs. actually doing them.

In the morning my husband called to say that it was snowing in north Seattle — WHAT?!?! I called Jenny to belly-ache and also say that if we planned to hit any sales up north, we should re-think that. In the car we talked about the ads for the “everything-one-cent heavy smoker sale” (not on our list) and the “pet photographer estate sale” (definitely on our list). Jenny had a plan to get on the list for an estate sale, hit another sale nearby, get a baked good and be back at the estate sale right before it opened. All of this worked about exactly as planned.

The first sale was maybe good on Friday?

Outside of a moving sale

Or it was never good. I am not sure.

Doesn't look so good

Things we did not purchase

A woman was looking over all the CD’s and then singing songs from what she saw. Like Gloria Estefan’s song “Conga.” Great, lady! Thanks for getting one of the worst songs ever stuck in my head.

I loved this large sign that wouldn’t let you walk into the kitchen. I think I heard someone making breakfast.


And this tray (tray! tray!) cracked me up.


After about five minutes of polite chit-chat with the owner we left. I know what you are thinking — five whole minutes?! Hey, sometimes while standing in someone’s living room they start talking to you and you can’t get away.

Back at the estate sale there was a pretty decent line. We were numbers 19 and 20, so we ended up being in the back of the first group let inside. Nothing was priced. That is always a pain, since you might grab a whole ton of stuff just to hear them tell that everything is $20 each. Or maybe it’s $20 for everything you have. Who knows?

The house was cute and small, but something just seemed not right about the whole thing. Neither of us took any photos, it just felt too cramped. We both picked up a few items, but it just felt like someone had lived there very recently. Like the whole family had left and not packed a single item. Jenny and I paid and I just thought I would ask about what had happened there. I have been to a ton of sales in my life, but this one was odd. Not bad, but odd. The guy mumbled something about a teacher getting killed there by her boyfriend. EEEK! No wonder something felt a little off. We both felt very glad that we hadn’t taken photos and honestly nothing was really worthy of poking fun at.

Off to the pet photographer’s sale. The sale was listed as “The apartment renter had been a professional photographer whose specialty was family pets. She even took a picture of a Bengal Tiger that was a pet!” It also said she had “costume jewelry including dolphin items.” Um, okay.

When we pulled up, the apartment building had that college party feel. Jenny pointed out a Miller tall boy can on the steps leading to the apartment. I mean it is blocks from the university. The second we walked into the apartment, we were almost knocked down by the smell of 25 year old dog pee. It was the worst smelling sale I could imagine in my worst dreams. How the lovely woman running the sale could sit there is beyond me. In the one minute we were in there, she told us how the woman had lived there for 40 years with two dogs. How? I haven’t been that skeeved out by a sale in years. We barely even looked around, although Jenny did spot what appeared to be a complete set of “Murder, She Wrote” on VHS.

Luckily the next sale was only about 15 blocks away. Mild-mannered husband and wife selling her mothers item’s. The house was clean, no odd smells, really nothing remarkable at all. Maybe this day is turning around?!?

Millie, I presume

We found a display with some leftover “happy retirement” signs and an odd little diorama of the presidents arranged on styrofoam.

Have A Great Retirement

Presidential close-up

While in the basement I saw this wreath made of bread dough.

Awful wreath

Does anyone else remember this odd ’70s craze? I think it’s salt dough crafts and at some point I remember making christmas ornaments in like 1978. So, I called to Jenny “hey, look bread dough crafts!” She hightails it over to me, not hearing anything about “bread art” and whispers in my ear: “HILLBILLY PICKERS.” Let’s be clear here — no, the sale didn’t have some dude picking on a banjo! It was three people in the next room babbling about what good scores they’d just found in some in-bred-dumb-ass-speak. I am not making a judgement on anyone from the South, but I am making a judgement on fools.

Let me stop here a second and have a small tangent. Not everything in the entire world is valuable. Not everything old is “worth something.” Our culture of “American Pickers,” “Picker Sisters,” “Storage Wars” — whatever flavor of the month is on the idiot box — is starting to get on my fucking nerves. You don’t need to carry a fucking loupe and a flash light with you to yard sales. Yes, I get that you saw that on TV, but are you Frank Fritz? No. You aren’t.

So, after looking around a bit, I go into the room they are in and I see a very small closet about 15″ wide — enough for about 10 dresses. I start looking at the dresses that are all in dry cleaning bags. Let me start by saying that you can’t really even get into a closet that small with someone you know, but you do not get into a closet with a complete stranger at a sale and expect them to be cool to you. It’s like trying to look into the same box of records with someone. It’s just not done. So, I assert myself by blocking the hillbilly picker lady a bit with my body — thinking she will get the hint. Look, lady, you have been in this room for 15 minutes, it’s not my fucking fault that you didn’t notice the closet. When she wouldn’t move I just grabbed all of the dry cleaning bags and walked out of the room.

Jenny then finds a photo album and one of the dudes calls out, “Them’s family photos!” Really? You think? I am pretty sure that “them’s” isn’t a word, you toothless idiot. I felt the need to repeat that phrase for the next half hour.

Is this really what our entire day is going to be like? I need to go home and go back to bed. Jenny mirrors my thoughts by saying “Maybe this is like our groundhog day, we stuck our heads out and now we know we should go back to bed for six more weeks.”

Out last sale of the day had this odd feel of them running a design-blog sale. The stuff was cool, but it felt like they had taken some clue from Apartment Therapy and started a company selling “design elements” or something, mixed in with random normal items. Jenny was a little pissed that the ladies were selling Girl Scout cookies without a Girl Scout being present — I guess that is a “no-no” that I knew nothing about.

They did have some amazing (but expensive) kids’ costumes and I talked her down on a very large West German first-aid flag.

Vintage kiddie costumes

But the whole sale just reconfirmed that we needed to take our few purchases and call it a day.

Junk In My Trunk 2-25-12

13 Responses to Hillbilly pickers and the smell from hell

  1. Silver says:

    But what was in those 10 dry cleaning bags? I so hope there was something fabulous!

    I can’t bear to watch Pickers shows, they remind me too much of an antique dealer my parents knew who was always boasting of how he’d offered little old ladies like $10 for an item worth hundreds.

  2. Thanks a lot for getting Conga stuck in my head now. Can you hear me screaming across the country? LOL

    Right after American Pickers came on, I ran into a couple having an estate sale (the woman’s mother’s stuff), saying they wanted to become pickers. For a living. Um… Yeah. OK. So why not start with dear ol’ mom’s stuff? Why let me buy it? Because they didn’t have a clue! Everywhere I go somebody says something about The Pickers. I’m tired of it, too. And I stopped watching the show last year. Especially after I found out personally how they just happen to find all these treasures.

    It’s strange, living in the deep south, that I don’t see more of the hillbilly pickers like you saw. Seems around here they are at auctions more than the estate or yard sales. Or they’re the ones set up on the side of the road selling those valuable McCoy Floraline flowerpots.

  3. meghan says:

    My grandmother lost everything when 2 men came to her backdoor and purchased everything she owned. She just had no idea what was happening. She was just a nice simpler woman who never had hot and cold running water or indoor plumbing.

  4. Silver says:

    That’s horrible Meghan. People who prey on the elderly and trusting are the lowest of the low.

  5. Melissa says:

    My grandmother’s neighbors were always offering to *take something off her hands* and she thought that would be a great way to get stuff hauled off to Goodwill or to the dump, for free. I finally went next door and told them *I* was in charge of hauling things off, and to kindly butt out because I knew they worked the flea market on the weekends. Fricking vultures.

    On another note… OMG BREAD DOUGH CRAFT!!! Reminds me of the time my dog ate my mom’s 5-year-old wreath and then puked all the way home in the car. Gah.

  6. meghan says:

    That would be something that my dog would eat.

  7. ira lee says:

    ok, im from the south, arkansas and rednecks drive me crazy!!!!! i dont think many people say ‘thems’ but i could be wrong!! first- what was in the dry cleaner bags, or did you just grab them so the old lady couldnt look?!?! and second- who bought those horrible neon green and gold shoes!!!!!!

  8. meghan says:

    I did find some great dresses, but then the woman wasn’t sure she wanted to sell them and I didn’t want to push, so I walked away.

  9. theclone says:

    Come on Wanda spill on the picker insider info!Yes these shows are just great for inspiring assholes to launch their new fabulous careers as pickers.I especially love the vintage clothing noobs that expect to make $$$ on stained faded ugly polyester maxi dresses photoed on their dirty rug.

  10. Penny says:

    Well, I gotta say- I make a living as a ‘picker’, though I don’t call myself that because A- I’d never heard the term till the TV said it, and B- I don’t want people thinking I buy any old rusty junk. I am very fussy about my rusty junk. I also pay good money and almost never haggle. I like Mike and Frank, but those Picker Sisters- UGH. They make me want to punch things. Mostly them.

    If I saw that ‘tray’ tray I would’ve bought it in a second and spent the rest of my life eating off it and laughing my arse off cause it’s HILARIOUS.

  11. RealHousewifeofOK says:

    I’m from OK (yeah-you probably got that already) and I can’t even stand 1/2 the people you get at sales, but Wanda is correct, they seem to hit auctions the most.

    I know what you mean about the house where the lady allegedly got killed-I was at a sale a few months ago, just random stuff-nothing too odd, but *something* odd, you know? Find out later that a man had committed suicide there. :-(. Those houses just seem to have an ‘energy’ of sorts.

    @Wanda-do spill! I just hate on Pickers when Mike refers to everything as the ‘honey-hole’ or ‘honey-pot’…..just sounds dirty!

  12. SixBalloons says:

    Sorry to hear that sneaky pickers prey on seniors. Sick and sad.

    Those are some loud green hi top sneakers!

  13. Pingback: Yard Sale Bloodbath » Digger, picker, hoarder … bite me