In addition to searching online for collectibles like every other collector, there are a number of ways to find monster collectibles locally. While this is can be time and labor intense, there is simply no feeling like walking into a shop or sale and spying treasure that is overlooked by other buyers and sellers. This is where you can truly find hidden gems, sometimes for dirt-cheap. The thrill of the hunt and the reward for the catch are greatest when you put the time and effort into the search in a way that doesn’t exist online.
So here’s my list for local places to find classic monster collectibles:
6. Local Auctions
Almost every community has at least one auction house. The local companies often run auctions to liquidate assets for business and personal bankruptcy as well as work with collectors and dealers to auction off collections and inventory. Auctions are usually listed in the classifieds of your local paper but several websites, such as Kbid.com, provide a national database of local auctions where you can search for specific types of items, like monster toys or movie posters, and even bid online. Auction houses often specialize, so search for one nearby that focuses on collectibles and attend a few auctions in person. Get to know the people who run the auction company and tell them about your collection. It is not uncommon that items are brought to their attention that don’t fit a specific auction and they may just refer the seller to you as a potential buyer.
5. Comic & Antique Shops
Every comic book shop is as unique as the interests of its owners. Some only deal in current comics, while others deal in a wide variety of vintage pop culture collectibles. Prices in comic and collectible shops will be retail, so you’re unlikely to find any bargain collectibles here. Ebay.com often serves as the price guide for these businesses, as may of these retail stores also host stores online at Ebay.com and other collectible websites. Again, getting to know the owner/manager and letting them know your interest is a good way to get them to help you build your collection. These dealers are in position to buy lots of collectibles from local people who don’t have the interest or time to sell online and, if they know they have a potential buyer for a given product, they are more than happy to call or email you when items of interest cross their path.
4. Flea Markets
Flea markets are an ideal haunt for collectors. The sheer quantity of dealers, who often take a generalist approach to the merchandise they sell, increases the likelihood of both finding items for your collection and getting them at a good price. Every major market is home to flea markets — some year-round and some seasonally. Since many booths are a fish-mash of items, plan to take your time. You just never know when that unique item might pop up — often in a bin or box full of other not-to-similar items. Over time, you’ll find the go-to booths where the odds are higher of finding the type of collectibles you are seeking, but be careful not to get into a rut. It’s worthwhile to get outside your normal routine on occasion since you just never know what treasure might be waiting for you one booth down. A quick google search will turn up a list or directory of local flea markets. I’ve found the directory at Collectors.org to be helpful in my search.
3. Estate Sales
There is an art to buying at estate sales, and in recent years, many estate sale companies have developed relationships with
dealers who get first-dibs on items in the sale. That said, not every estate sale company specializes in every category of collectible, and it is not uncommon to find items prices well below market value simply because they aren’t on the radar of that particular estate sale company. Of course, the opposite often happens — I’ve been to estate sales where a stack of low-grade comics are priced well above their value simply because the estate company knows that comics have become highly collectible. The best strategy for estate sales is to get in early and late. As estate sales are wrapping up, the willingness to negotiate on prices increases significantly for any items that remain. Estate sales are usually advertised in local classifieds and several websites, such as Estatesales.net are great resources for finding upcoming local and regional sales and will often include lists of categories of items included in the sale as well as pictures to help you select which sales are worth your effort to
2. Yard Sales
Every collector dreams of finding a rare and valuable collectible being priced at bargain prices because the owner has no idea of its worth. That is unlikely to happen online, but it just might happen if you invest the time and energy into garage sales. One of the best ways to find collectibles is to scour garage and yard sales in older neighborhoods. This can be a hobby in it’s own right and is certainly time intensive. Your local newspaper, penny saver and Craigslist.com are great resources for finding upcoming sales in your area.
1. Your Parent’s House
My mom was the driving influence behind my becoming a collector. Back when I was saving my allowance to buy comics and Famous Monsters at the newsstand, she would encourage me to stack them nicely in my closet and event to store them in plastic sleeves. As I grew up and my interests changed, many of my childhood obsessions were donated, tossed out or broken. But those that survived, my mom eventually packed away in storage for safekeeping. My own return to collecting as an adult really started when my parents decided to downsize and they asked me what I wanted to do with the comic long boxes and toys that had been stored in their attic and basement all those years. Deciding to keep them and move them to my home has provided me with hours of enjoyment and brought back a flood of memories of my childhood passion for classic monsters. If you’re starting out as a collector, the first pace to start is in your own childhood home to see what remains of your childhood collection. If your mom is like mine, you’ll be surprised at the treasure trove that may be sitting in storage waiting to be rediscovered.
Of course, the World Wide Web has made it MUCH easier to search for and but that most sought after item for your collection. Here’s our list of the Top Websites for Classic Monster Collectibles
For more information, visit our Monster Collector Resources page – it’s chick full of links to sites about vintage and modern monster collectibles!