Where’s Will? – Ross’ Garage Sale Warehouse

A photo of Bob Lang and other members of the Wild Weasel, and F-4 squadron in Viet Nam.  Will purchased this pilot’s flight gear, as well as some 1,000 photos from Ross Kapstein’s Garage Sale Warehouse in Atlanta.

A photo of Bob Lang and other members of the Wild Weasel, and F-4 squadron in Viet Nam. Will purchased this pilot’s flight gear, as well as some 1,000 photos from Ross Kapstein’s Garage Sale Warehouse in Atlanta.

WorthPoint CEO and President Will Seippel will be traveling to numerous antique and collectibles shows throughout 2010. He will Twitter where he’s going each week. Anyone who sees him there and comes up to say hello will receive a one-year CEO Club discount membership to WorthPoint. You’ll know it’s Will because he’ll be wearing a white WorthPoint polo shirt.

ATLANTA – This week I made an unannounced stop to on my weekly schedule to Helen Daesy’s estate liquidation sale in the Atlanta NW warehouse District. Helen is the first lady of Atlanta antiques. She knows everyone. She knows more people than I have forgotten. (I will write about Helen another week.)

So, last weekend I was going to do my taxes. Taxes for me, as a dealer, are difficult, as I do not know how much I paid for half of my items, and because I buy in lots, it is near impossible to assign a value to everything.

Anyway, Helen had mentioned to me that I should stop by Logan Circle, down by Chattahoochee, sometime and go see her friend Ross Kapstein, who is opening a new antique store. He sells the type of things I like, she said. Hmm . . . Part of me is thinking: “I have a lot to do this today, Helen, and it is almost noon and I have not shown up at the WorthPoint Corporate offices yet to show the employees I do work on Friday. How do you think I have time to go to a preopening to a new store?” The other side of me is thinking: “Hey, this is cool. Who needs to go to an office on Friday? I can still make it to my patent attorney by 5 p.m. and maybe I can beat everyone else to the stuff that I like and get the good deals!”

Lang’s helmet visor.

Lang’s helmet visor.

Well, the buyer side of me one out and I was off to Ross’s (after I stopped by the office and had lunch with the employees). Totally a good decision. First, let me welcome Ross to the trade. Ross is a retired Atlanta school teacher. He, like some of the rest of us, has been buying things for years. His wife insists it is time for him to start selling some of the things that he has been buying and get that which some of us buyers do not rank as a top priority, otherwise known as “cash flow.”

I was a few minutes late to see Ross, as the Atlanta traffic was itself, exasperated by rain. It took me more than 40 minutes to do what my GPS said I could do in 10. I found Ross the warehouse that he shared with a Chinese importer of new antiques that have the “look” that many Atlantans are chasing at the fraction of the cost of the older items. Then I saw Ross’s inventory that he had set up. I said “wow” to myself as I saw his inventory beautifully displayed in lighted cabinets, but kept my composure. Ross had a very good eye for what to buy and detail. I asked him to walk me through all of his items. It was very quickly clear that:

• Ross loved what he had assembled and sort of collected;
• His favorite was photography and 1960s paintings;
• He did meticulous work on researching the history of his items.

Lang’s flight suit.

Lang’s flight suit.

A few of the items that he focused on were photographs and photographers of the ’60s. Other items that Ross had that caught me eye were a cabinet photo of a former slave who had the foresight to write his life’s history on the back of the photo; a history book with 200 photos of the 40th US Army Division, in World War Two that ends in the taking of the Negros Islands and McArthur coming in by plane to take over his newly captured prize. Ross’ photo collection of the Southern Ballet left me speechless. He also had vintage electric guitars, Army uniforms, ephemera, early baseball items . . . and much more coming in.

After taking a tour of Ross’s world, we talked for several hours. Ross’s new venture is called the “Garage Sale Warehouse.” Ross is cleaning out all of the cool things he purchased and saved in his travels through Atlanta over the years, moving it form his house to the warehouse. We laughed as I noted his collection was significant enough to open up a museum, covering a lot of Atlanta’s post-Civil War history. He says he focuses on paperbillia and is an eclectologist. He also has a Board of Advisors to council him on purchases he likes but does not understand! We discussed electronic selling and I suspect that you will see Ross on WorthPoint and GoAntiques in the near future. I sensed that Ross liked the hunt so much, and was good at it, he should find a Georgia Tech student to help him start photographing and getting his inventory on line to start producing some cash flow so he could reinvest in additional new inventory. Thus, his former accumulation disease would quickly become a business. This proves to be a difficult transition for many new dealers, as they mostly experienced the buying side, have not worked with computers in this form and often rue parting with some of their beloved stock.

I purchased a car full of WWII- and Viet Nam-era military items from Ross. This included the a Wild Weasel pilot’s flight gear from Viet Nam, about 1,000 photos and the papers, and WWII Army Air pilot flight jacket—very interesting items and things my customers will love.

I will return to Ross’s store soon as he has more I would like to purchase. I also enjoyed making a new friend in the trade and in Atlanta.

Will Seippel is the president and CEO of WorthPoint. Will has been an avid collector since 1974 and dealer of just about all things—with a emphasis on ephemera—antique since 1984.


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