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Killer Stuff and Tons of Money: Seeking History and Hidden Gems in Flea-Market America

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  475 Ratings  ·  110 Reviews
Whether it's "Antiques Roadshow" or "American Pickers, " or any of the number of TV shows on flea markets, the world of collecting inspires a cult following of millions of Americans. Celebrated author Maureen Stanton takes readers behind the scenes and deep into the "flea-o-sphere," following master antiques dealer Curt Avery from the populist mayhem of flea markets, to th ...more
ebook, 288 pages
Published June 9th 2011 by Penguin Group (USA) (first published January 1st 2011)
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Aug 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the features of Antiques Roadshow that makes it so interesting is the historical information delivered by the experts as they discuss the provenance of some unusual item. That knowledge is what separates the amateurs from the professionals in the antique business. You have to know a lot of stuff. This is one of those ridiculously fascinating books that truly holds my interest becoming impossible to put down as I am overwhelmed with more and most trivia, e.g., in the chapter about the show ...more
Rob Atkinson
Jul 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a fledgling antiques dealer myself, I found this a fascinating, informative, and inspirational read. 'Killer Stuff and Tons of Money" is a first-hand look behind the scenes of the antiques trade, framed around the story of "Curt Avery" (a real dealer protected by a pseudonym), a good friend of the author's. His story is typical of many dealers; beginning small with the antique bottles he digs up and collects, he becomes thoroughly knowledgeable in that niche and starts to trade in them, makin ...more
Mary Robinson
A look at the fascinating world of antique dealers through the eyes of a lower-level dealer who is rough-edged but endearing in his passion for antiques and the history they represent. The author followed this self-taught expert over the course of many years and it is interesting to see how the dealer grows and changes as he struggles to survive in this tough world. Also was interested in seeing how our new generations attitudes toward antiques (they’re more interested in a nice reproduction fro ...more
Jul 18, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was tedious to read but I still found it interesting and informative. As a lover of estate sales, I too am always on the hunt for the big find.
I won this book on Goodreads giveaways and was particularly interested in the fact that it focuses a lot on New England antiques shows, like the one at Brimfield, Massachusetts. My grandparents lived just down the road from the Brimfield flea market and although I probably only visited the event once when I was a child, I've passed by the location many, many times and know it well.

This book is a fascinating account of the lure of buying, collecting and selling various items (primarily early Ame
May 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
I'm very fond of shows like Antiques Roadshow or the British game show that gives contestants money, sends them off into a flea market to spend their money, and then whoever gets the most for the item at an auction wins. I like antique stores and junk stores and yard sales and flea markets. I love to look at the stuff and to learn about its history. What I don't want to do is collect it. I have a huge aversion to accumulating stuff just to accumulate it. I do have lots of books, but I could walk ...more
This is a tough book to review, mostly because it's interesting and well written. The reason for the one star review is simply that it's endlessly repetitive. Halfway through (I can't stomach any more) every chapter consists of:

1. Go to a show
2. Buy some stuff, sell other stuff
3. Rinse and repeat

Some dealers are knowledgeable, others are crooks, some items make a lot of money, others sit around.

In short, this would be a brilliant long form article of 5,000-7,000 words. As a book, there just isn
Oct 15, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
A fun and enlightening romp through the antiques trade. I enjoyed the main character and the author's inclusion of herself in the narrative was welcome rather than intrusive. I learned a lot and laughed some. Well worth reading.
Joanne King
Jun 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderfully written book with great insight into the life of an antique dealer. I felt like I was right there with the author in her adventures. I can't wait to go to a flea market to find my own treasures!
Oct 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book is a Great Adventure! And it’s a great read!

Escorted into the mysterious behind-the-scenes world of antiquing by two very entertaining, engaging and trustworthy guides, you will never look at your own possessions, or your parents’ possessions or your grandparents’ possessions, the same ever again. Author Maureen Stanton invites her readers on her journey with antique dealer Curt Avery. We find ourselves camping in the rural hills of New England, waking up with the sunrise in order to s
Minerva Cruz
Jul 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book is an easy read with a wealth of knowledge! A must read.
Bruce Kirby
Jun 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you want a look at the good, bad and ugly behind the scenes look at antiques dealer then this is the book for you. First hand experiences of the author on her journeys.
Jun 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm an incurable collector. First there were things that didn't cost anything: fossils, stamps, buttons, a china chocolate set I dug out of a trash can and a Victorian rocking chair that I got from the curb. Later there were books, frogs, flatware, and boxes. I love Antiques Roadshow. We would plan our vacations around antique shows, junk stores, book shops, and flea markets. The Keno boys grew up around here (and they are much tougher than they look).

The major and best part of the book are the
Chris Otto
Feb 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.75 stars.

I enjoyed this book, and you will, too, if you're interested in its primary topic of the world of higher-end flea markets and antique shows. There's an abundance of great detail about buying, selling, haggling, finding hidden gems, making mistakes, detecting fakes, navigating auctions, surviving the crushing schedule of a dealer's life on a road, and figuring out what to do when your house, garage and vehicle become filled with antiques.

I think there could have been a great book about
May 31, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of shows like American Pickers, Auction Kings, and Antiques Roadshow.
Recommended to Angel by: I won from a Good Reads giveaway
I finally finished the book. I finished it about a week ago, but it took me a while to find the time to write the review. And I am glad I finally got to it because this is a book worth sharing with others.

Stanton spends time with and "shadows" Curt Avery (a pseudonym), a mid-range antiques dealer (you learn from reading this book that there is a hierarchy when it comes to antiques and those who deal in them). Curt may well be one of the few remaining passionate, knowledgeable, and honest dealer
Feb 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a really interesting read. Curt Avery is a great protagonist because he fully lives and embodies the life of the struggling antique dealer. He's not smug, self-satisfied and boring, like one of the "living room dealers" the book's constantly name-checking, but also not a hobbyist. This is his career. These are his concerns. These are the deals on which he got burned; and these are the ones where he cleaned up, sometimes to a profit of multiple thousands of dollars.

The book is well-orga
Pam Fullem
May 30, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
Just finished "Killer Stuff...". It was an fascinating look into the world of antiques and collecting. I loved how this world can teach you so much about history, and have a better appreciation of craftsmanship. This book is kind of fictionalized non-fiction. By that I mean that the author has changed the names of many characters etc. in the book to protect their identity. This is a world in which you have to be very knowledgeable to not get "taken" in purchases. There are many reproductions, re ...more
May 31, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
I've always liked old things better than new things. Back in high school, one of the activities my ex-husband (then boyfriend) and I did, without fail, every Saturday and/or Sunday, was to go to the Raleigh Flea Market and browse through the stuff. I used to love the bottles, the old handkerchiefs, man, I used to use nothing but handkerchiefs for years (maybe I should get back into that), and I dreamed of furnishing my apartment with the solid wood and iron furniture I saw.

Guess I got the bug ea
Sep 13, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: no-longer-own
Before this book, I never realized that flea marketing had it's very own subculture. I guess that should have been obvious, since everyone seems to have their own subculture, but it's not one I've ever thought of before. It's an oversite that I'm glad to have fixed. Maureen Stanton takes us into the lives of Curt Avery and his circle of friends and competitors. Before this book, I never realized that you could make a living off of buying and selling antiques, well outside of a store that is. It ...more
Jul 11, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, junking
I'm a small-time reseller of vintage goods so I thought this might be an interesting read. It was okay. The dealer "Curt Avery" that the author profiles deals mainly in what he calls "Pilgrim-century" goods and primitives--true antiques because they're more than 100 years old. He is contemptuous of people who buy and sell the 'vintage' goods that I'm a fan of--items from the 30s to the present. He bemoans the fact that nobody wants expensive OLD antiques anymore, especially when the economy is s ...more
Jun 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am really fascinated with antiques and history which is why I enjoyed this book. It covers a wide range of subjects in a collector's world such as eBay, hoarding, auctions and traveling to antique shows. Through the duration of the book, it's easy to see why the business of auctions and antiques is so hard to get into due to the intense knowledge one must obtain about various objects. My mom and I love browsing historic houses and window shopping at antique stores, but I never realized there w ...more
Emily Skinner
Mar 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is the perfect companion for antiquing road trips. I didn't want it to end. I enjoyed every detail of Stanton's mystery antique dealer/expert who chooses not to reveal his identity. This book takes you on a real journey of pain, heartbreak and joy as the dealer works ridiculously hard to find, sell and store treasures. He scores big at times and mostly hoards his wares for regional shows.
Now the heartbreak I refer to has more to do with the sacrifices and lack of "family time" as a res
Apr 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. I had no idea when I picked it up that is was going to be 80% biography and 20% about the antiques business. I thought it was going to be a cultural historical analysis of the American flea market. That said, my favorite genre is biography/memoir, so I enjoyed this so much more! The main person she follows for years is perfect because he covers the low, middle and high ends of the antique business. I really felt like I got to see the "behind-the-scenes". This book re- ...more
Jun 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really and thoroughly enjoyed this book. Since I deal in vintage clothing, it was a totally different perspective that I loved reading about. I thought that Maureen Stanton did a great job mixing narrative stories, sociology, psychology and history together for an overall interesting and informative read. People don't realize what goes into the life of a dealer - they think it's always about the easy flip. Sometimes that's true, but most of the time it's hours and hours of work - hunting for t ...more
Jan 01, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I read this book because I am interested in learning about the antiques trade--I already sell a lot online but I want to know how to do that better. This book really doesn't address the online aspect of vintage selling, but it does have some interesting information about really old antiques (especially 17th and 18th century) in America.

This book focuses exclusively on the vintage/antiques trade on the east coast, which is only remotely useful for people in the central US, where antiques are gene
James Cowan
Apr 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book follows the author’s friendship with an antique dealer. She joins him on buying and selling excursions as he mentors her in the antiques business.

The book does contain some "salty" language. It gave me a sense of who the character is and if it would have been omitted it would have been a different read as the character in question has the knowledge of a college professor yet works as hard as any blue collar employee.

The many attributes to being successful in this line of work are revea
Jan 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stanton provides us with a first hand look at the ins and outs of the antique business by acting as the assistant to a professional dealer for several years. The book was educational and entertaining yet there was an underlying sadness that I couldn't quite put my finger on till I had a "Freudian" moment. It was right there in the title: the word "stuff". Yeah, that's what it's all about: Stuff! Buying, selling, trading, collecting, and accumulating stuff. It's not about money. It's not about gl ...more
Feb 17, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Killer Stuff and Tons of Money is a fantastic, educational read. The book provides a first hand look into the world of antiques: auctions, flea markets, and antiques stores through the eyes of the author through her collaboration an antiques dealer.

I think that the book provides plenty of useful information. However, at times, the author inserts information that digresses from the storyline of working with the antiques dealer. I found the information not particularly necessary. I think she had e
Matt Kuhns
Aug 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book. Once again, I would have kept right on reading for hundreds more pages. Anyone else devoted to American Pickers will probably also enjoy this fascinating tour of other corners of the old-things trade.

I would have given this book five stars, in fact… except for the author's repeated suggestions that antique is synonymous with superior and that I'm a soulless, cultureless consumer drone for buying cheap flatpack furniture at Target.

Sorry, but as much as I'm fascinated by this bus
Dec 24, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Usually i wouldn't read something if i had the impression i'd be giving it a low rating, but felt i should finish the book anyway due to being close to the subject matter. Stanton teaches creative nonfiction and follows a mid-level full-time New England antiques dealer to various shows and tries to learn the trade and market. She uses pseudonyms for the characters but obviousily real places such as Brimfield. She knows very little and admits that. I didn't find how she portrays the business very ...more
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Maureen Stanton is an award-winning writer of creative nonfiction, and author of "Killer Stuff and Tons of Money," a work of immersion journalism that explores the subculture of flea markets, antiques, and collecting. She has received a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize, a Maine Arts Commission Individual Artist Fellowship, and her work has been listed as "Not ...more
More about Maureen Stanton...
“In 1784, the new prime minister, William Pitt the Younger, reduced the tea tax from 119 percent to 12.5 percent. Cheap tea was then available to the masses, though elitists decried tea's ill effects on "persons of an inferior rank." Women neglected "the affairs of their families" for afternoon tea sipping.” 0 likes
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