Modern-day treasure hunter Kimberly M. Parker has turned her love of unearthing and buying new and used household items and collectibles into a business.
Ms. Parker of Falmouth, opened Finds of all Kinds, a second-hand shop this winter at 661 Main Street, Falmouth. It is packed with “a little bit of everything” that she has gleaned from abandoned storage units, auctions, and estate sales.
It is a small but tidy store with ever-changing merchandise. Inventory from recent auctions include antiques lamps, Lenox china, brand-new CDs, new and used tools, jeans, pots and pans, leather jackets, a NERF water gun, baseball cleats and costume jewelry—to name a few. There is even a doughnut maker.
“You’ll never know what you’ll find in here. That’s what attracts repeat customers,” she said.
The kitchen and other home items appeal to customers because the price is right. She runs it like a retail shop with well-organized shelves and clothing racks, but sells the items for just over half of the retail price. For example, there’s a new crockpot still in its packaging selling for $8 that she said goes for $15 at Walmart.
Her biggest sellers are her DVDs, which she sells for $1 a piece. Popular right now are her prom dresses, priced between $10 and $25.
Ms. Parker and her husband travel off-Cape to storage unit auctions from Maine to Rhode Island. The premise is when a renter fails for pay the rental fee for months on end, the storage unit company auctions it to the highest bidder after repeated attempts to contact the owner.
The storage unit door is opened, and prospective buyers have one minute to survey the contents—usually stacks of unmarked cardboard boxes, upended furniture and unwanted sports equipment—to guess at the hidden gems inside. No one is allowed inside until the locker is sold.
“I learned quickly that laptop computer boxes are usually empty, so don’t count that in when calculating your bid.” She also said, surprisingly, messy units often yield a lot of bargains.
“It’s hard to gauge, so it’s best to place conservative bids. It’s not like you’re going to find gold bars in them.”
Mostly it is clothes, old furniture, kitchenwares, but she does find goodies like Coach handbags and high-end furniture. “It’s like Christmas. You never know what you’re going to get.”
Ms. Parker does warn there is a down side.
“You realize you’re going through stuff that belonged to a soldier, or someone who is incarcerated. It can be sad.”
She pays from $20 to $500 for units, but since the A&E channel’s reality show “Storage Wars” has shot up in popularity, she said unit prices have increased, with more bidders wanting in on the action.
If she wins the bid, it is followed by the unglamorous work of loading the contents into a trailer and hauling it back home. She then sorts and cleans. She rarely throws items away and divvies the contents into piles to either sell or to donate. Worn blankets and towels go to animal shelters and toiletries and gently used clothes to charity.
During her childhood, her father would take her to flea markets where she witnessed his excitement of turning a $2 purchase into a $20 profit.
“I guess it’s hereditary,” she said.
She offers clean-out services to people who are moving or to estate sales. Arriving with her husband’s work trailer, she loads all the leftover, unsold items. It is a win-win. She gets inventory for the store; they do not have to go to the dump.
She also drives to estate sales and ticket auctions to buy hard-to-find collectibles. With her keen eye for treasures, she selects the pieces worth selling. She recently came home with Waterford crystal stemware, Depression glass and antique end tables.
“Finds of all Kinds” is open Tuesday through Thursday, 10 AM to 4 PM; Friday and Saturday, 10 AM to 5 PM; and Sundays, noon to 4 PM.