I am hooked on shows like Pickers, Pawn Stars and Kings of Restoration. Main reason being my wife and I share a common interest in keeping and collecting old stuff, for sentimental reasons.
In a way, we are like Mike and Frank in Pickers, though not in a huge van, going round to places where there are collectibles, hopefully going for a song. In Pickers, we are shown how they bargain with the sellers which include their little tricks to get them to sell (some items not for sale) or at lower prices. Then we are shown the price of each item bought, the expected value and their expected profit. There were instances of mistakes made (paid more than they should) and unexpected windfalls when the items were worth much more. There was an instance when they went to a place full of expectation but the items found were common newer items which have no collectible value, so the trip was wasted. There was one place which has more items than they could go through and they promised to visit again.
Pawn Stars involve three generations of a pawn shop. One memorable episode was about the son buying a 1957 Chevy and had it restored for some US$70,000 for his old man as a birthday gift! I think the idea of having such a shop is fantastic in that it serves as a place for those who wish to check out their old items to see how much each of them is worth. If necessary, an expert will be called in to give his independent opinion. The person who brought the item in would be asked whether he wants to sell or pawn it. Being businessmen, whatever value assessed will not be offered by the pawn stars. It has to be a much lower figure to provide for profit and the time to find a buyer. There were instances of mistakes and unexpected windfalls. A grandson, Chumlee bought what looked like an antique Coca Cola advertisement sign (wooden) with a picture of a lovely girl, but later, his father had a look and declared it a fake! Some items will never appeal to non-collectors. But in this business, one man's rubbish is another man's treasure. For example, a pair of Houdini's handcuffs and verifying documents, were valued at US$10,000 and bought (after some bargaining) for US$5,000.
Kings of Restoration involve Rick the expert restorer. He claims that though there is no owner's manual, there is nothing he could not handle. But the old Chevy which he agreed to do, had to be given to someone else to sort out because of the short 3 months promised to Rick of Pawn Stars. Old machines were brought in to be assessed for restoration costs ( usually higher than original price and sometimes, even more than that for a new one). For example, there was one child's toy truck with a Hudson car badge which was restored for some US$600. Incidentally, viewers were shown a picture of a Hudson car and it brought back memories to me because such an American car was used at my eldest brother's wedding! For others, such people are crazy for spending so much on an old item just to satisfy some sentimental moments of the past. There was an old railway vacuum cleaner which was restored for US5,800! For this couple who has a railway museum, it was worth it. He had a railway air pump which was used to check trains' brakes, restored for US$6,500! They were ever so pleased with Rick's thorough restoration efforts. Each item has to be dismantled, sanded and resprayed to its original colour before re-assembly. Any brand name or words are restored as close to original as possible. Missing parts are sourced and any damage repaired. All these repairs remind me of my childhood in a vehicle repairs workshop environment, as an observer. I wished I had hands-on experience then as I do not have the confidence to restore our own Sunbeam Alpines.
There was a grass-cutting machine in the form of a little truck where a person can sit on it while carrying out the work. This particular machine was brought in to Rick, already dismantled and told there were a few missing parts. The guy said it will bring tears to him when he sees it again because it reminded him of his childhood with his dad. Incidentally, this little machine also reminded me of my dad. We used to have one even though we did not have any lawn in our compound. But my father was attracted to it because it was like a little car and could be used as a toy for us, I supposed. Then one day, his old friend, S C Wong, asked to borrow it for cutting his lawn at his house in Jalan Madge. It stayed there for months and I don't remember seeing it again! The same goes with our old Riley (the longish model) which was used by his pretty second wife for months but returned. It must have been stylish for her use near the embassy row, but back in '60s, I was actually ashamed when my brother used it to take me to school! Don't get me wrong, to my father, it was an honour that someone rich would want to borrow things from him. Their friendship went back to the time when my father was an apprentice with his father in Malayan Railway (now KTMB) in the 1920s!