Unexpected Pickings in Watertown, MA

Unexpected Pickings in Watertown, MA

Soon those of you local to the Union Square neighborhood will notice some shifting going on with the pop up shops in our basement. New faces are coming in, and some familiar faces are moving on to their next adventures. Be on the lookout for what's to come!

To kick off the fresh start down there, I found a great glass display showcase on Facebook Marketplace and arranged to pick it up with my friend Ben (one of the new shop owners moving in to the basement) in Watertown.

When my contact Annie (pronounced the Armenian way, Ah-knee) led us through the house, I felt like I was walking through an estate sale. Lots of great vintage treasures were methodically laid out all over the place. To test the waters, I pointed at something and mentioned that it was a nice piece. "Well everything is for sale! We're having an estate sale in a couple days," Annie informed us. Boom. A picker's dream. Getting first pick of an estate sale before the early morning crowd grabs up all the good stuff! I was psyched!

Annie led us through the house and out to the backyard. We had to duck our heads so we didn't get smacked in the face by the low-hanging peaches dangling from the branches of a dozen peach trees. We came upon a large outbuilding that contained a long neglected, empty, and GIANT indoor swimming pool, something you don't see in the Greater Boston Area often. And there was our display case, and it was great! But we got distracted fast.

My focus shifted to all the STUFF in this building, particularly the huge lot of taxidermy sitting inconspicuously on a forgotten pool table. Annie and I started throwing some numbers back and fourth. I think that by laying out some money on these big ticket items, I might be able to get some deals on smalls later on. We break the ice with with a great price for two stuffed raccoons and a really nicely mounted bobcat.

Now that I got the big stuff out of the way, I start digging in and making my pile. At estate sales, I find its a good strategy to make a pile with everything you know you want, regardless of price (some items will be price-marked, some won't). Before the seller tallies everything up, I like to throw out an offer on the whole pile. Hopefully as the seller adds it up, they'll try to hit that mark or near it in the back of their mind.

I find a cool pool sign on the wall and shout excitedly "I'm taking this!" Then I turn a corner and find a great mid-century modern coffee table haphazardly thrown in a junk pile and covered in dirt. Ben finds a giant box of spent bullet casings - perfect for my rota-bins in the shop. I pick up a ratty wooden statue on a base that I was pretty sure was a liquor display (it was - Johnnie Walker). The finds start flowing in. Before I got too excited, I took a trip to the ATM to grab some cash - I would need it.

The inside of the house was like a time capsule. It was owned by an old Italian family starting in the fifties. The house was covered in religious art and Italian inspired designs (like large, ornate golden mirrors). With one kitchen upstairs, and two more in the basement, this family did a lot of cooking, and just as much eating. Annie told us about how the family would spend all their time in the basement, eating, drinking, and playing cards, and I could see it perfectly.

By the time Ben and I get done going through the house and the outbuildings, I'd put together a pile with some great brass eagles, mid-century ceramic panther statues (love those), a few vintage brass belt buckles, an amazing MCM floor lamp, some cameras, a few kitchen items, some religious stuff... there was a lot! Ben and I also found a great 1930's display cabinet that will be great for his new shop.

Oh and I found a pink bandanna for Spotty:

Before I finished, Annie had already started tallying up everything, which made me a little nervous, because I didn't get to throw out my offer beforehand. Once I had picked my last item, I joined her, and we went over the list. To my relief, most of her asking prices were super reasonable. There were a few items she was a bit heavy on, so we talked through those. I explained how much I would likely charge for an item in the shop, and how much I was willing to pay. I find its always best to be as honest as possible so that everyone gets a fair deal. By the end of the list, we had a good rapport going and it was evident there was trust between us.

In the end, I ended up right around where my offer would have been, and was super happy with the amazing merchandise I scored for the shop. As I mentioned in my previous post, I am supposed to be on a buying freeze right now... but once again that went out the window. When the stuff is good, and the prices are right, I have to have it. This was a completely unexpected pick - I came for a display case and left with a truck load.

Be sure to stop by the shop this weekend to see what's new! And keep your ear to the ground for exciting news about the new shops coming to the basement!


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