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Tiki Central Forums Collecting Tiki Best type of place to find them
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Best type of place to find them
Suffering Bastard of Stumptown
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 09, 2005
Posts: 648
From: PDX
Posted: 2007-05-16 1:09 pm   Permalink

I want to get your opinions as to the best place to find tiki mugs and other items in the wild.

I don't mean retail or ebay, but the other options.

Where do you find most of your finds?

Thrift shops?
Garage/estate sales?
Flea Markets?
Antique dealers?

I have found most at thrift shops, but then I go there more often than the other kinds of places. I've found a decent amount at flea markets and antique dealers. And while I have found some cool stuff at garage and estate sales, it's just retro stuff, not tiki.

But should I be going to more flea markets? should I stick to thrifting?

And don't worry about me taking away from your finds, because I only really compete with tikisgrl.

I'm in Maine, remember?


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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Sep 21, 2003
Posts: 1700
From: Yucaipa, CA
Posted: 2007-05-16 1:16 pm   Permalink

I used to find a lot my good stuff at antique stores. Not so much any more. Most of my favorite places are gone now.

I don't find a ton of mugs at flea markets, but they're still my favorite places to shop just because there's always so much cool stuff there.

I never find mugs at garage sales.

I hate to admit it, but I used to buy most of my mugs on ebay. That was back when I rarely had to pay more than $9.99 though.


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Tiki Royale
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Dec 06, 2002
Posts: 891
From: The Aloha Room in Beautiful Belmont, CA!
Posted: 2007-05-16 2:30 pm   Permalink

I would say that most of my finds in the wild have been at thrift stores, but like you, that is where I am able to hunt most regularly.
I have discovered a few nuggets at estate sales (these are my favorite places to hunt because there is always other cool stuff to look at) and rarely at garage sales. Seems most garage sales now are just an excuse for people to unload their crappy old holiday decorations!
The local antiques malls and once a month flea-market will somtimes yield treasure but more often than not you will be paying higher $ for it.
Its all about the hunt though, eh?


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uncle trav
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 27, 2005
Posts: 2276
From: Kalamazoo
Posted: 2007-05-16 3:08 pm   Permalink

I have found most of my stuff at antique shows and thrift stores. A fair amount comes from the flea markets. I even have people find stuff at garage sales. A Hawaiian Village moai and a Hawaiian Inn paddle licker just this week. both for under a buck! I have a few people trained not to leave any tiki behind at a sale. Sure you get some crap most of the time but once in a while BINGO!! There is still alot of good stuff out there, even way up here. It's all about the hunt and I never pass up a sale. Got a Mauna Loa ashtray not too long ago for five bucks and the matchbook to match just this weekend for free! You just never know.

"Anyone who has ever seen them is thereafter haunted as if by a feverish dream" Karl Woermann

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 16, 2004
Posts: 1368
From: San Diego, CA
Posted: 2007-05-16 3:40 pm   Permalink

I go to Maine.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 23, 2006
Posts: 507
From: San Jose.Ca
Posted: 2007-05-16 4:00 pm   Permalink

SB, Just like what Tiki Royale said, Its all about the hunt...Ya have to look everywhere..I find most of mine at thrift store's and estate sale's


[ This Message was edited by: NOTCH 2007-05-16 16:51 ]

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 03, 2005
Posts: 870
From: Lowell, Mass
Posted: 2007-05-16 4:40 pm   Permalink


On 2007-05-16 15:40, MachTiki wrote:
I go to Maine.

Darn MachTiki beat me to it... But you already know that I go to Maine! I'm all about thrift stores and antique stores, Flea Markets and the rare garage sale where there is something besides used Tupperware!


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Psycho Tiki D
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Oct 13, 2006
Posts: 1844
From: The river Styx, can you pay the toll?
Posted: 2007-05-16 5:00 pm   Permalink

I just walk along the streets of California and pluck them up, after all, they are paved with tiki...wait a minute...paved with gold...wait a minute...not so much!

My best finds are at the monthly antique shows in Sacramento and Alameda. Most frequent finds of common stuff are found at the flea markets. Antique stores are hit and miss, prices on the high side. I find some items at thrift shops, but I don't go enough and to be quite honest, the workers here cherry pick items or the thrift stores have a "boutique" area where they sell popular stuff at high prices.

Garage sales...I have seldom, if ever, found any tiki. Too many stops, not enough found to bother. Same with estate sales, at least in this area.

I definitely spend more time searching and scouring than I spend money. All of the above have paid off in one fashion or another. Ebay-I have purchased four items here and sell way (never tiki) more than I would ever buy!

Psycho Tiki D (I know I am and you get the picture)!

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Suffering Bastard of Stumptown
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 09, 2005
Posts: 648
From: PDX
Posted: 2007-05-16 5:11 pm   Permalink

I am all about the hunt too, I just am looking for insight as to whether or not I should expand my hunting venues more conscientiously.

And these are all good responses. Except the one from Mach. :|


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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 22, 2002
Posts: 1513
From: Houston, Texotica
Posted: 2007-05-16 5:19 pm   Permalink

* No luck at thrift in Houston for the most part (occasional finds, yes, like a PERfect Tretschikoff for $7.99).

* Garage sales in Texas are so much harder than for you lucky California bastards; they start at 7:00 and are over by noon. This is to beat the heat I guess. There are so many dealers out there that it is rare indeed if I get anything at a garage sale.

*No good flea markets around Houston; mostly new, cheap crap sold by Asians, for some reason.

*Antique malls often yield good fruit for me, but obviously more $$ than a garage sale. But I scored a Bali Hai Tiki Bob, one of my top Holy Grails, at a mid-century modern booth in an antique mall for $7.50! Their Haywood Wakefield was top dollar, but not their tiki! And a Witco tiki for $20 at a cool retro mall in Austin (they're onto Witco now, dammit). Smalltown antique malls can be fabulous, if a big-city dealer hasn't gone through before you. It takes planning to schedule antiquing time on your trip, but it is usually very worth it. I get lots of stuff this way.

* City-wide garage sales rule, if you can get in early. My school where I teach has the biggest in the city, and as a teacher, I get first dibs (after the moms working it). Not much tiki (the parents are too young to have had cool tiki stuff in the past), but they're rich enough to take trips to Hawaii and Tahiti, then later sell their souvenirs. Big church garage sales are *rich* hunting ground, again if you can get in before the dealers.

* My fave: crappy resale/junk stores. They just wanna get rid of the sh*t and don't take the time to look it up on eBay. They'll occasionally way overprice some stuff that they think is valuable (why are ALL oil paintings "valuable"?!), but if they're clueless about tiki, you're in luck. These stores close frequently, though (for good), so I have to keep on my toes, screeching the brakes if I've passed a new one that's popped up to take another's place. I get great "trader" style stuff here, like giant pieces of coral for $20.

* And yes, the occasional eBay if it's something very very special that I will never find in the wild or at an antique store.

* But there's nothin' like going to the source: the very tiki temple itself. My mugs from the Mai Kai, the Kahiki, Trader Vic's, the Spanish tiki bars - honey, there's nothing better than buying it there! And I buy a helluva lot at every tiki event, be it new carvings or old goodies that someone like Basement Kahuna wants to get rid of to make room (and money) for more stuff for himself.

Best advice? Live where other tiki collectors don't! But then you don't get to have them over to see your cool stuff and have a Mai Tai. I'd rather have the guests; it's all about the ohana for me
"Zazz captivates felt."

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Hula Cat
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 14, 2006
Posts: 171
From: Bellows Falls Vermont
Posted: 2007-05-16 9:45 pm   Permalink

gotta agree that the church sales are the best (must be the need to get rid of that pagan stuff)....being in the antiques/worthless crap business has me scouring the antique malls for dealers that don't have the same appreciation for poly pop while looking for any thing that's has room for profit (but man' these moments can be rare!) all those price guides have taken innocence away...want to make money? ...write a price guide!...... but the HUNT is the juice! ....that and the fear of working for someone else! ....with set hours..and paperwork.....and bosses!

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Sep 23, 2006
Posts: 323
From: Oahu, Hawaii
Posted: 2007-05-16 11:41 pm   Permalink

Here in Hawaii the thrift stores are sometimes fruitful - but I generally only find Daga mugs and miscellaneous Coco Joe's items. Usually the stores are heavily picked - there are people who spend the entire day at a store waiting for new items to be stocked. Those of us with jobs are out competed.

That being said, most of those people hanging out at the thrift store all day are dealers at the weekend flea market and swap meet. I'm probably not telling you anything you don't already know, but establishing relationships with them is key. Once they know you're after tiki, they'll buy it when they see it, intending to sell it to you on Sunday.

Part of establishing that relationship with the regular dealers is generally paying them what they are asking - if it's too much, I'll put the mug down and thank them. Typically, they'll offer a lower price. If they're just plain asking confiscatory prices, I really don't want to do business with them anyway.

I used to buy a lot of mugs off eBay, but cost with shipping is rapidly approaching $20 per mug, and that's just more than I want to pay for an Orchids of Hawaii or OMC. Gotta be special for an eBay purchase these days.

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Unkle John
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Oct 22, 2003
Posts: 1217
From: Middle-of-the-Ocean, TX
Posted: 2007-05-17 08:14 am   Permalink

I agree with everyone, especially Formikahini.

I have found that thrift stores in college towns (Arlington, Lubbock, Etc.) are usually stripped of tiki in the few hours after they open (or when class is out). College kids see them and buy them to drink beer from or what not then throw them away or break them, not knowing what value they may hold. I try my hardest to resuce them before the kids get ahold of them. True there maybe soem collectors, but they are out weighed by the frat boys, believe me I know... I was both.

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Suffering Bastard of Stumptown
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 09, 2005
Posts: 648
From: PDX
Posted: 2007-05-17 08:25 am   Permalink

I think I posted this mostly out of frustration that I go to thrift stores all the time, and in recent months I have found two things, one of which is a modern Dynasty monkey mug. But then Tikisgrl is in the same neck of the woods, and she finds a bazillion things.

Granted, she lives closer to population centers than I do, and has more to choose from, but I feel like I must be missing some stuff.


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Johnny Dollar
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Oct 01, 2003
Posts: 3070
From: Columbus, Ohiya
Posted: 2007-05-17 08:38 am   Permalink

i've had good success finding tiki mugs in sbim's house. it's the best when he's not there.

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