Gem or Junk: Can You Turn Trash into Cash?

Malcolm Mason, Manor Auctions
Posted at 6:15 PM, Apr 16, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-30 14:31:01-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fl. (WTXL) -- A knick knack that gets picked up at a garage sale or thrift store for pennies on the dollar, turns out to be thousands of dollars on the pennies. Television makes it look easy. You buy a cheap item, next thing you know, you're living on easy street. But how hard is it to really find that special item?

So, I decided to try an experiment and take twenty dollars and to see if I could find some gems. I turned to Malcolm Mason, a licensed auctioneer and appraiser who works at Manor Auctions to help me get started.

"Essentially all day long, all we do is receive inquiries, speak with clients and customers who are usually looking to have items evaluated", said Mason. "But our job is to actually provide them guidance and estimates to value as to what things will bring in the current market."

The plan is to buy something from a thrift store, a garage sale, an antique shop, and Craigslist. Spending up to twenty bucks each time. Then I'll bring the items back to Manor Auctions to have Mason value the items and answer the question: "Did I buy gems or junk?"

"Use your gut and your eye as a good source of judgment", said Mason. "There are many things that are very hot today. Time pieces, coins, certain porcelains, glassware."

And while my gut and my eyes might be great tools to use, as an amateur, there are some items I should avoid. "Commemorative-type items, plates, things like that, hummels", said Mason. "Those are all things in a very down market right now. I would recommend, if you're out on the hunt, take your smartphone and download the live auctioneers app and the ebay app." Mason was also generous enough to lend me a magnifying loop and a scale.

Next week, my shopping trip begins with a trip to a Thrift store!