Tuesday, Dec 31 2013 04:35 PM

Shopping for antiques the old-fashioned way

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    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Char Connell, right, helps a customer as she browses through rings at the 2011 Antique Show and Sale.

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BY ASHLEY FISCHER Contributing writer

There are new ways to buy antiques -- eBay, Etsy, etc. -- but nothing beats the old way, both for knowing what you're getting and the art of the deal, says the organizer of an annual antiques show that has become a New Year's weekend tradition.

"When you're shopping in person you get to see the true quality of the merchandise," said Mary Brian, the show's organizer. "A lot of times you can get a much better deal from a dealer in person than online; as far as I know, you can't strike a bargain online."

Related Info

Bakersfield Antique Show and Sale

When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday

Where: Kern County Fairgrounds, 1142 S. P St.

Admission: $5; children 12 and under are free

Information: 559-638-2639

For two days this weekend, vendors carrying a wealth of unique, one-of-a-kind items will convene at the Kern County Fairgrounds to attract collectors and the just plain curious interested in browsing to their heart's content.

"I try to have a variety of things for people to look at and buy," Brian said. "We have a silver dealer, we have primitives, there's jewelry, there's linens, books, there's a dealer that specializes in antique sewing items, there's collectible signs -- just a lot of different things. There's really something there for everyone."

According to Brian, who's been in the business of wheeling and dealing antiques for 40 years, the proliferation of online shopping has resulted in a decrease in the popularity of traditional antique sales.

But there's no shortage in the diversity of the items carried, or the wealth of knowledge that can be gained from direct interaction with vendors, many of whom have been in the business for decades.

"The dealers are all very friendly and helpful," Brian said. "If there's something you don't know or understand, a dealer can help you. Most dealers know exactly what they're carrying, and most of these dealers have been in business for a long time. I don't think there's anyone at the show that's just starting out; they're all very knowledgeable about what they have. Most of them have been doing the show with me for years."

Another benefit of shopping directly at antique shows: You don't have to deal with any unexpected surprises in the quality of the items you purchase. What you see is what you get.

"You can see the items, you can touch the items, you know more about what you're buying," Brian said. "I can probably describe something to you exactly the way I see it, and you might get a completely different idea of what it was compared to what I said."

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