PBS’ ‘Market Warriors’ is one dumb show
  • Flea-market sellers plea: ‘Why pick on me?’
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    Auction Finds

    Readers prick me, defend ‘Market Warriors’

    One reader accused me of being jealous of the stars of “Market Warriors.” Another called me a bottom-feeder.

    Ouch, that hurt.

    Those were two of the comments I got recently from readers who came across a blog post I wrote a year ago about the PBS show, where I deemed the premise questionable and the buyers clueless. They blasted me for being too hard on the show, as if I had no right to my own opinion.

    One reader was angry at my comments because he’d just learned that the show had been canceled. That was news to me, so I investigated and he was right. There will be no more new episodes after the final one that aired on April 22. The producers of the show at WGBH in Boston, which is also behind the fantastic “Antiques Roadshow,” announced the closing in March. “Warriors” was essentially a companion to “Roadshow” when it debuted in July 2012.

    PBS show "Market Warriors"

    Picker Bene Traia bought this junior tricycle for $425, and it sold at auction for $90 in the final episode of the show on April 22. Photo and prices from the "Market Warriors" website.

    The story about the cancellation of the show drew comments supportive of it, drowning out the people who like me were honest and realistic about the shortcomings of it. Then I found a forum of like-minded people who knew that the show didn’t smell right and weren’t afraid to say it.

    The April 22 episode had the four pickers buying at the Liberty Antiques Festival in Liberty, NC, and selling at Ken Farmer Auctions & Appraisals in Radford, VA.

    I was so taken with the readers’ comments that I wanted to share them with you, giving up “Auction Finds” Friday space where I normally offer readers’ questions and my answers.

    PBS show "Market Warriors"

    Picker Kevin Bruneau bought this painted blanket chest for $750, and it sold for $275. Photo and prices from the "Market Warriors" website.


    You are EXACTLY the kind of bottom feeder I dread coming into my booth when I set up at an antiques show. Of course, I realize that your opinions are worth exactly what I paid for them! This show deserved a chance to grow. A chance it will never get now.


    I’m always amazed that people like you assume that you know who I am based on reading one of my blog posts. That’s idiotic.

    I blog every day, five days a week and if you had read other posts, you’d have a clearer picture of who I am and what I know. Then you could have made an informed decision about how I approach antiques dealers at malls.

    Since you didn’t, here’s a recent blog post I wrote about flea-market buyers – the real “bottom feeders” that you mention. I would never stoop so low as to call anyone such a horrid name. That’s just plain uncivil and hateful.

    Billed as an antiques fair but buyers were flea market types

    And here are some other posts:

    Flea-market sellers plea: ‘Why pick on me?’

    Don’t insult the flea-market seller!

    I welcome you to follow my blog. I think you’ll thoroughly enjoy it and learn a lot more about where my head is.

    PBS' show "Market Warriors"

    Picker Miller Gaffney bought a Burlon Craig ceramic jug for $110, and it sold for $60. Craig was one of North Carolina's traditional makers of face jugs and other folk pottery. He died in 2009 at age 88. You can learn more about him by clicking the photo. Photo and prices from the "Market Warriors" website.


    My apologies. I do not use the term in a hateful way. I would say that I and most of my dealer friends use the term in a more dismissive sense, as people who see us as easy targets for their own purposes. They approach us in an “us vs. them” mindset, with no real appreciation for the time and expense involved in displaying quality antiques for sale. Yesterday I was already angry at PBS for yanking “Market Warriors” without giving the show a chance to evolve and grow. I’m sure it affected the tone of my remarks after I read your post.


    I made my comments and added the links to show that I agree that folks who come to antique malls and flea markets are looking for bargains. I don’t blame them, we all do. But I wish they’d also consider quality.

    I’m also a dealer: I buy at auctions and sell on eBay, and sometimes I do flea markets. I’ve about given up on them because they aren’t worth the time, trouble or money.

    My biggest issue with “Market Warriors” was the premise. I go to enough antique malls and auctions to know that you can’t buy at the first place and sell at the second. You can’t pay $700 for an antique item and then try to sell it at Joe’s Auction House for $900. It just will not work.

    Folks who go to mom and pop auction houses – not Christie’s or Sotheby’s – aren’t going to pay that kind of money (unless it’s a buyer via liveauctioneers.com at a high-end sale).

    Part of the problem was the premise, but some of it was also the four buyers. They were making choices and paying prices that you’d expect from novices, not from people who’d been in the business for decades.

    I watched the show and screamed each time one of them made a bad choice. And I screamed a lot.


    And the choice of auctions was, at times, laughable.

    PBS' show "Market Warrors"

    Picker John Bruno bought this whirligig on a stand for $425. It sold at auction for $150. Photo and prices from the "Market Warriors" website.

    Here’s another comment with my response:


    Sounds like someone is a little jealous they don’t have their own show. 🙁

    Doubt very much if you’d be as successful as you think you’d be. You’d already be super successful in the antique world if that were the case and, well, you’re not.

    Sour grapes, Sherry. Sour grapes.


    Of course, I’m jealous. For me and the thousands of other people out there who buy at auction and know that you can’t spend $700 at an antiques shop and then try to sell it at a mom and pop auction house for $800. I’m SURE I could do better; I couldn’t do any worse.

    I think you’re pretty presumptuous to assume that I’m not successful since you don’t know me and my finances. Remember that my definition of success may be different from yours.

    My blog post wasn’t sour grapes. I was merely expressing an opinion based on my knowledge of the industry. I’ve been out there for awhile.



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