Mary Kay Andrews' antiques road show story goes like this. The author - known for her slew of spunky beach reads - was leaving empty-handed from a Buckhead estate sale when she happened upon two guys filling a ratty pickup with assorted odds and ends. She pulled over and discovered they'd been hired to haul away a load of what some homeowner considered junk. Five dollars changed hands. The so-called junk, a 1940s chaise lounge, had a new owner.
"I'm not above curb cruising," said Andrews, who lives in Atlanta and on Tybee Island, Ga., where she maintains a small antiques business.
With Atlanta featured this month on PBS' "Antiques Roadshow," we reached out to Andrews and other area antiquers for their ideas on buying things of old.
"I love estate sales. I call them Meemaw sales. An old lady who was 90 and never threw anything away _ that, to me, is the best," said Andrews, who stays abreast of upcoming sales from web listings or dealer emails. "I go as early as I can on the first day. If the prices are high I'll ask what day they cut prices. Or I gather up several things that I like and say, 'would you make me one price?'"
She also notes that the larger the piece, and the later the hour, the better a bargain a shopper can expect.
"If it's heavy, lots of times they don't want to drag it home," she said.
Although buying antiques is a business transaction, Andrews keeps it friendly.
"Be polite," said Andrew whose new book "Spring Fever," about a woman pining for her about-to-be-remarried ex-husband, is due out in June. "Talking smack is never good."
When she's not cruising curbs, her favorite local haunts include Kudzu Antique Market in Decatur, Antiques & Beyond on Cheshire Bridge Road and the Alpharetta location of Queen of Hearts Antiques and Interiors. And then there's her prized hunting grounds: the Scott Antique Markets, held the second weekend of every month at the Atlanta Expo Centers.
"If I'm in town, I'm always at Scott's," she said. "I know lots of the dealers. If you're a regular and they can, they'll cut you some slack."
Scott's, as regulars call it, is housed in two buildings on either side of the Jonesboro Road exit off I-285, with many dealers offering wares outside as well.
"You can go looking for something in particular or treasures present themselves to you," said Westside Atlanta resident Jennifer Atkins Lauren. A doctoral candidate in 20th century British literature from Duquesne University, Lauren once chanced onto some early volumes by Lord Byron and William Wordsworth for $5 apiece by scouring a dealer's shelves at Scott's.
"Five bucks!" said Lauren, who generally goes with her mother, Dawn Atkins of Senoia, Ga. "We go as a social outing."
Lauren and her husband, Rick Myers, also constructed a shed for gardening tools and gear for their chickens, Bess, Blanca, Oreo, and Princess Anne, with old tin and salvaged porch columns, windows and doors that they bought from Scott's dealers. Her son Ben Jackson, 10, enjoys searching for vintage Star Wars memorabilia at the monthly market.
Ryan Fleisher, who lives in the Old Fourth Ward area and sells vintage cut glass online at CriticalGlass.com, is another Scott's fan.
"I go on Thursdays, their set-up day," he said. "Scott's is the best. It's huge. There's not a retail vibe there."
Fleisher also enjoys the shops of Chamblee's Antique Row, on and around Broad Street, off Peachtree Industrial Boulevard.
"Occasionally you'll get lucky," he said "It just depends on what you're looking for."
Before he shops, he studies.
"Every bit of reference material on this subject, I own and practically have memorized," he said. "I educate myself so I know what I'm looking for better than what another deal would. The harder you look, the more turns up."