ATLANTA — Mary Kay Andrews’ antiques road show story goes like this. The author, known for her slew of spunky beach reads, was leaving empty-handed from a Buckhead estate sale when she happened upon two guys filling a ratty pickup with assorted odds and ends. She pulled over and discovered they’d been hired to haul away a load of what some homeowner considered junk. Five dollars changed hands. The so-called junk, a 1940s chaise lounge, had a new owner.
“I’m not above curb cruising,” said Andrews, who lives in Atlanta and on Tybee Island, Ga., where she maintains a small antiques business.
“I love estate sales. I call them Meemaw sales. An old lady who was 90 and never threw anything away — that, to me, is the best,” said Andrews, who stays abreast of upcoming sales from web listings or dealer emails. “I go as early as I can on the first day. If the prices are high, I’ll ask what day they cut prices. Or I gather up several things that I like and say, ‘Would you make me one price?’ ”
She also notes that the larger the piece, and the later the hour, the better a bargain a shopper can expect.
“If it’s heavy, lots of times they don’t want to drag it home,” she said.
Although buying antiques is a business transaction, Andrews keeps it friendly.
“Be polite,” said Andrews, whose new book “Spring Fever,” about a woman pining for her about-to-be-remarried ex-husband, is due out in June. “Talking smack is never good.”
When she’s not cruising curbs, her favorite local haunts include Kudzu Antique Market in Decatur, Antiques & Beyond on Cheshire Bridge Road and the Alpharetta location of Queen of Hearts Antiques and Interiors. And then there’s her prized hunting grounds: the Scott Antique Markets, held the second weekend of every month at the Atlanta Expo Centers.
“If I’m in town, I’m always at Scott’s,” she said. “I know lots of the dealers. If you’re a regular and they can, they’ll cut you some slack.”
Scott’s, as regulars call it, is housed in two buildings on either side of the Jonesboro Road exit off Interstate 285, with many dealers offering wares outside as well. “You can go looking for something in particular, or treasures present themselves to you,” said Westside Atlanta resident Jennifer Atkins Lauren.
A doctoral candidate in 20th century British literature from Duquesne University. Lauren once chanced onto some early volumes by Lord Byron and William Wordsworth for $5 apiece by scouring a dealer’s shelves at Scott’s.
Lauren goes with her mother, Dawn Atkins of Senoia, Ga. “We go as a social outing.”