Trash to Treasures, Cari Cucksey talks 'Cash & Cari,' on HGTV

For some of us, there's no more finer way to kill a day than hitting a great yard sale, thrift store, consignment hall, auction or even estate sale.

Junking is one of the great American and Canadian pastimes, and as both nation's populations filtered Westward, people took all kinds of treasures that were handed down generation to generation with them, many of the items European or Asian in origin.

Those of us who appreciate the hunt and the "never knowing what you will find" feelings of entering a good thrift store or rummage sale, will be pleased to meet Michigan antiques' hound Cari Cucksey, whose new HGTV show reveales her journey for the good stuff.

Cucksey can suss a sale quickly and hone in on the "gets" and the passes.

Cucksey has an antiques store in Michigan, and even runs estate sales too.  Her new show on HGTV show, "Cash & Cari" (Mon., 10 p.m.) is a no-miss for those who are suckers for the Antique Roadshow kind of experience, dispensing eye-opening information on what you may have tucked away somewhere.

Monsters and Critics took part in a roundtable of questions for Cari about her new show:

On how Cari started in this business of finding treasures in estate sales and items at these different places:

C. Cucksey I have been buying and selling since I was about 12-years-old and probably about 15 years ago started really, really digging in and going to estate sales.  And, just realized, wow, I have a lot of information or little of information about a lot of things and why not start my own estate sale business because I felt like, they weren't having enough fun with it.  And, wanted to breathe some new energy in to the business and decided to start an estate sale company.

On the most unusual thing Cari ever found?

C. Cucksey I get asked that question probably every day.  I'm always intrigued by what I find.  There's a reason why I wear gloves … a lot of stuff from animal nests in items to really wild and wacky, weird medical devices and I've found a little bit of everything.  It never ceases to amaze me what I can find and it never ceases to amaze me what people will collect.

On when she recommends fixing up an old treasure instead of letting it go?

C. Cucksey Anything that's solid wood, I mean I've broken, ah not very often, it's my worse thing as I cringe when I break anything.  I've broken various like teapots, or a teacup that I love that I've glued back together and just said, you know what I'll deal with it, I love it so much. 

But in terms of a piece of furniture, I tell people to just really overlook the dirt and the grime, because that's something that can be easily fixed.  But, if something is solid wood and you can get out the wood filler and get out the glue and get out your clamps and save it and you love it, then it's absolutely okay to re-furb and re-purpose.

We just did a piece on the episode last Monday where there's actually a few mouse nests inside.  We cleaned out the poo and made it work.  So, it's all—beauty’s in the eye of the beholder.  If you love the piece and you can see that you can turn it into a gem, then I say go for it.

On whether she collects anything?

C. Cucksey I love art pottery.   I'm always finding new things to collect and finding, 'oh my gosh, I love this, I'm gonna start collecting this.' 
But, I've always collected art pottery, Navajo jewelry.  I love arts and crafts furniture. 

I'm very eclectic.  I like a lot of different things and with this business you really have to stay balanced and obviously stay on the line of not becoming a hoarder of certain things.  And letting it circulate and let somebody else love it.  But, I collect a lot of different things, but those are the things that are true to my heart.

On her prized possession:

C. Cucksey It's actually the chair that I'm sitting in right now.  I have an Eames Herman Miller turquoise chair that I'm sitting in.  It's my desk chair that sits with a really old library table, so.  It's my favorite thing.  I couldn't live without it.

On whether one should look for anything of value or should one stick to certain items, like dishes or books? 

C. Cucksey For a reseller.  I tend to tell people if you're gonna get started in reselling go with the things that you know obviously.  If you love china and you love dishes, start there because chances are you'll have a great eye, if you love of picking things out. 

And, you don't have to necessarily go for the higher valued items because, as I said earlier, there's a buyer for everything and there's a collector for everything.  So, starting with the things that you know and branch out rather and buy things that you don't know about, go for it. 

If it calls to you and speaks to you, buy it, take a chance, especially if it's not very expensive.  You can research it online.  Chances are somebody online will tell you what it is and you can find out what it's worth and you can turn a little bit of money and you're learn something along the way.

On what sports' memorabilia is worth collecting:

C. Cucksey I'd say that baseball cards have always been hot and will continue to be hot.  There's a lot of items that are out there, for instance, I think we sold not too long ago a Detroit Lion's Jersey that was signed, that was maybe something that came up at an auction that somebody purchased and wanted to get rid of or sell and raise some capital. 

The types of things that are autographed and it seems like there's probably a lot of them out there, those items I'd say are not as hot as, you know, the vintage baseball cards and you definitely want to pass those on.  Those will continue to increase in value.

On where she gets appraisals:

C. Cucksey Start by going to your local antique shops.  Because, chances are if the owner of the shop can't tell you what it is, they'll have an arsenal in their rolodex of somebody who's an expert in that particular item who can least point you in the right direction. 

Put you in the right path of what it is.  I also recommend posting it, taking pictures and posting it online.  Because, there's a lot of antique lovers out there who will be more than willing to help you identify the piece.  I've done that myself.

I'm not an expert in World War II, and there's so much stuff out there.  I've taken pictures of various items and said, hey, do you know what this is can you help me out?  Knowing that there's a lot of collectors of that stuff out there.  People love to help.

I would do a general search because there's a lot of different clubs out there.  There's a club for any kind of collector and chances are they have a blog or, you could even post it on Craigslist under the antique section for sale.  There are people out there who love to identify things and help other people.  So, my first step would be to search out to see if there's a club of those collectors.

On the best resource for researching your finds.

C. Cucksey  I use a variety of sites; it's all dependent upon what the item is.  I have a wonderful site that I subscribe to.  It's a little bit costly, but it's called Dictionary of Marks. 

If you're dealing with china or silver or just in general items in terms of pottery and things with a mark, that's a great site, great resource.  I think they have a trial basis that you can do for free for a few days, before actually paying for the service. 

But that's a great one in terms of looking for- if you don't have a book, I always say you can go to the library too, there's all kinds of reference books there that are free to use.  But, that's a great site if you're looking to identify some china or pottery or silver.

On key brand names and marks that are hot:

C. Cucksey In terms of are you thinking of like name … products like McCoy pottery or Roseville pottery...

Well, anything that's an … item obviously can be searched and sought out online.  There's obviously, you know that there's a group of people who collect it.  But, again I go back to there's a buyer for everything.  I don't know if you mean selling online, but sometimes if it's something that you think may not sell very quickly, it sells quickly. 

So, there really is no rhyme or reason.  I always go back to one person's junk really is another person's treasure.  And, there is a collector for everything.  And, luckily, we have the internet where we have this international worldwide market, where people can seek out and find your item.

On how her show was picked up by HGTV;

C. Cucksey They actually reached out to me.  I got an e-mail from somebody who was scouting out.  I think that they were looking for a woman antiques dealer and liquidator so- they reached out to me which was really cool.

Tune in to new episodes of Cash & Cari on Mondays at 10/9 Central on HGTV.  .

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