“If you can get a good piece of furniture and update it to a modern look, you’ll have a good piece that will last another 20 or 30 years,” —Christine Ishmael, Eagle Mountain resident and mother of six.
SALT LAKE CITY — With warmer weather comes de-junking, de-cluttering, and spring cleaning.
For many that means finally going in the garage and parting with that thing that’s been sitting around for years and years, “just in case.”
Getting rid of those items is about to pay off.
"If it's got some steel and some wood on it, there it is," said Dennis Baker, editor of the New Century Collector, which covers the Utah antique market.
Barker has been in the antique business for 25 years and previously owned his own store. He said mechanical items, things made of steel, old tools, hunting collectibles and old sports equipment are popular and bringing cash to those willing to part with it.
"It's the whole 'man cave' kind of idea," he said. "There are a lot of things in people's attics or garages that are only 30, 40 or 50 years old that are widely collected."
Monica Zoltanski, owner of the Capital City Antique Mall, said now is the time to cash in on your “mantiques.”
She said antique items that appeal largely to men are among the hottest items in the antique and collecting world. This includes industrial pieces, old signs, automobile parts, tools and things made of metal.
Zoltanski says shows like AMC's "Mad Men" depicting typewriters, metal desks and chairs and anything from the 1960s helps bring interest to the market.
For example, a manual Royal typewriter in working condition is priced at $250 in Zoltanski's store.
Zoltanski said the History Channel's "American Pickers" and "Pawn Stars" have made antiquing more popular. Nielsen ratings for Utah and nine counties in Nevada, Idaho and Wyoming showed that "American Pickers" reached an average of 14,000 homes each episode during prime time for the past three years and "Pawn Stars" reaches nearly 17,000 homes.
She said besides the TV popularity, people are drawn to these items because of their stability.
“We just came through a period of financial instability and it gives people a sense of being anchored to something,” she said. “Having something substantial is important, and people respond to that.”
She also said men are making room for these antiques in their homes, particularly as adornments for their offices or garages.
“Somehow guys can find a little extra in their budget for those things,” she said.
Lark Mason, founder and president of iGavel Auction and regular guest on PBS’s "Antiques Roadshow," said objects created from the World War I era to the 1960s fall into the mantique category and are on the rise.
“The definition does have this kind of masculine appeal,” he said. “Metalware and ceramics are primarily selling on their decorative appeal because it is a style that fits in with our contemporary living patterns.”
Mason said items made of silver, gold, or that have precious stones are also selling well because of their material value. This is particularly true if an internationally known maker like Tiffany and Co., Cartier or Georg Jensen made the item.
He said people generally decide to part with items because of a major life change, like moving or getting married.
“(When that happens) there’s not a lot of choice in trying to time the market,” he said. “Which is always hard to do anyway.”
His advice for sellers regardless of timing is to get several quotes from people you can trust.
On the hunt
Christine Ishmael, an Eagle Mountain resident and mother of six, wiped a handful of dirt and dust from an old metal number at the Paris flea market-inspired antique store Abode, in Salt Lake City.
"The dirtier, the better," she said. "That's when you know it came from somewhere good."
She carefully handled old window frames and described how they could make a great centerpiece for a bare wall. She gushed at the detail and history of an old paint chipped door.
Ishmael stopped by Abode to drop off two white statuettes she sold to store owner Mariam Sabir.
After that she was off to go picking in other Salt Lake antique stores. And as always she keeps her eye out for any treasures on the curb. This is a typical day for Ishmael who gets up early to pick before clocking in with her at-home Jet Blue job.
In January Ishmael decided to organize and de-clutter her home so she started a group on Facebook called Vintage Yard-sale Utah to list items for sale.
“We just wanted to pay off some bills and get the house organized, and it’s just gone crazy,” she said.
The page serves as a host for collectors to buy and sell antique items and now has more than 2,200 members.
“(Any item listed) is bound to be somebody’s cup of tea,” she said. “There is a great need and desire for vintage in Utah.”
Within the group Ishmael said she noticed antique doors, Pyrex and old furniture “goes like crazy.”
Her advice for anyone trying to sell is to take good pictures of the pieces, and stage them well so people get an idea of how it could be used.
She said another good spring cleaning option is "upcycling," the term used to describe recycling and updating old items to use as decoration or sell.
“If you can get a good piece of furniture and update it to a modern look, you’ll have a good piece that will last another 20 or 30 years,” she said.
Ishmael said she loves upcycling, and by doing it and reselling pieces her family has been able to make money. She said if she works every day on selling she can make anywhere from $100 to $500 a week. She said one woman from the Facebook group upcycles furniture to feed her family.
"The potential to make a lot is there, but it's like a full-time job," she said. "If you want to just get a couple hundred dollars here or there, you can do it."
Ishmael brought a few of her best finds to Abode. She showed off her vintage glass Mr. Peanut jar she paid $3 for. The same jar can be seen on eBay for as much as $236. And a little Pinocchio figurine she paid $1 for is listed at $85 online.
“It has replaced other income from a job I used to have that I didn’t love,” she said.
The Rusty Ranch
Jeff Carter reinvents vintage items at his store Rusty Ranch and said repurposing is a good way to manage old items.
“There’s a market for people to do their own thing with what they have and a market for people like me to make things,” he said.
Carter owns Carter's Glass in Spanish Fork but has been reinventing vintage items since his five children were young.
"I used to make Star Wars guns for my boys," he said.
He said he likes to find old pieces he can put together to make something functional and also enjoys making junk art.
Carter said his grandfather-in-law had instructed his posterity not to throw away some of his old things. He and other family members weren’t sure what to do with the items, so Carter decided to turn them into a custom cowboy statue.
“Now it has sentimental value without it just sitting around,” he said.