Top News

STREAMLINE YOUR STUFF: What should you do with all your stuff?

Jane found these old patterns in frames on display at the Refound shop on Thistle Street in Dartmouth. -Jane Veldhoven
Jane found these old patterns in frames on display at the Refound shop on Thistle Street in Dartmouth. -Jane Veldhoven

These days people are looking for collectability and usability

People ask me all the time where they can sell their stuff. Much has been written about old stuff and how most of it isn’t worth much. So, I thought I would turn to an expert to get some more details.

I had the most fascinating discussion with local expert Mike McKenna. McKenna owns the Refound shop on Thistle Street in Dartmouth and is a partner in Mariner Auctions.

At the shop, McKenna says people are looking for collectability and usability. There is not a lot of market for knickknacks that don’t serve a purpose. Things like Pyrex and vintage kitchenware are popular.

Mid-century (1950s and 1960s) is definitely the hottest period, especially furniture and chrome kitchen sets. I am obsessed with the kitchen sets with the Formica top and chrome edge banding and matching chairs. McKenna says they usually sell in a day or two, so if you see one, grab it!

One of the most challenging categories of stuff I have to help clients deal with is antique wood furniture. Not surprisingly, the market has gone down drastically. A settee that would have sold for $2,000 not that many years ago now sells for $200. There is so much of this furniture hitting the market all at the same time, especially in this part of the country with an aging population looking to downsize. It becomes a simple factor of supply and demand. Antique dealers are looking for special pieces only, especially something that was made locally from say the 1500s.

There is still a small market for crystal, sterling silver (not silver plated) and china. The china market is very small. So many people have collected it and passed it on to family members who no longer want it so there is a lot of it out there. McKenna says Shelley china from the art deco period is valuable. I found a 1930s Shelley teacup on Pinterest listed for sale at $98. Wow. You all know I’m not really a fan of decorative objects but I did get a bit lost on Pinterest following all the people who love Shelley china. Who knew?

Keep an eye out for vintage tin toys, especially robots. Star Wars franchised movie collectibles and comic books can be valuable depending on their condition. Stamps are not very valuable right now because a lot of collections are hitting the market all at once. If you think you have something of value, you can send a photo and description of the item to shop@refound.ca.  

Mariner Auctions has a 23,000 square foot building in Dartmouth. They hold a live auction every four to six weeks for more of the higher end pieces. They bring in multiple households for each auction as this helps to attract more buyers. They also broadcast online so they have buyers from all over the world.

In the past auction buyers were collectors and dealers only. Nowadays they get collectors, dealers and the general public. Someone could simply be looking for a deal or hoping to save a particular piece from the landfill. Many of the collectors are interested in artwork. Their next live auction will be in mid-September. Contact them at info@marinerauctions.com if you think you have pieces that are of value.

I could have talked to McKenna for hours but alas he is a very busy guy trying to help us sell our stuff!

Recent Stories