Buyers Eddy Rogo, Derreck Martin, Jessica Lindsay Phillips, and Scott Landon talk about why they're excited about this new show, and drop a few intriguing gems about what we can expect to see.
tV: Prior to doing this show, what drew you to antiques and collections?
ER: It's a family business which my father started many years ago. We started with coins and then from coins it went to collectables and it grew to antiques, auctions, and private sales.
DM: For me it's family as well. My grandfather started the business. He was basically a collector and then my dad turned it into more of a business. He actually started off with making wrought iron garden furniture and then he got into antiques and art. I grew up around this my whole life. It's definitely an attractive business.
JLP: I was born a collector. I started very young collecting blankets, toys, bones, stickers, and trinkets from flea markets and garage sales with my mother in Ottawa. From there it grew into what it is today.
SL: For me I didn't have any of this growing up. I started the business myself in around 1992. I'd seen a couple of pieces of furniture that I really liked but I didn't realize that they were antiques. I visited my brother and his wife, whose mother was a collector of Canadiana. She had these pieces in her apartment that were 19th century Canadiana from the east. I was born and raised in the east but had never even seen the pieces before and I couldn't understand what the stuff was. I took an interest in it right there. Then I realized that it had value, and that's what kind of turned me. I had a house full of new furniture and I slowly got rid of everything and filled it with stuff like that. The value and the aesthetics of the Canadian story, that's what hooked me, and then after that I was running.
tV: What is the most unusual thing that somebody has asked you for?
JLP: In my department the unusual is the usual so asking for a shrunken head or a baby cooling table, mummies, horse armour or things like that is normal for me. It would be abnormal for someone to ask me for 19th century furniture (laughs). That's my unusual.
ER: I deal in so many things. Just this week I sold a fully-assembled tiger skeleton. I can sell anything from that to a brand new Ferrari to Mickey Mantle or Babe Ruth signed baseball cards.
SL: Magician David Copperfield came in my store one time and asked me to find him one of those nickel player fortune teller things.
ER: Like that one in Big (Tom Hanks movie).
SL: Yah. That's what he wanted. He gave me his phone number and everything and said if I ever found one, to give him a call.
JLP: Did you find one?
tV: What distinguishes this show from a show like Antiques Roadshow with it's pricing or Dragon's Den where the haggling is done together in one room?
ER: A huge difference is that this show is built around money, and there's a lot of greed involved. With Antiques Roadshow there is no offer, it's just somebody saying it's worth this value. When someone gets an offer here, we actually take the money out of our pocket. We're not saying, “It's worth this” we're saying, “We'll pay this.” As for Dragon's Den, on our show if someone says no to one of us, and then goes to the next room, they can't come back to that previous offer.
DM: With Antiques Roadshow people have no idea of what the piece is worth when they walk in, whereas on our show people already have a number in their head and usual it's us beating them down on that figure and bringing them down to reality most of the time.
JLP: Because we have a mixture, you're buying to resell; you're buying for yourself; you're buying because you love the story or you don't care about the story. That's where it's influenced and going to each room, you're going to find that. Someone might love your story and believe it and pay that extra money, and someone might say, “I don't care.”
ER: I can't give you too many details, but imagine a person's reaction when that person asks six million and Jessica offers him ten thousand. I thought he was going to kill her.
JLP: We can't say any more but tune in and watch it because that was a really interesting one.
DM: Antiques Roadshow is like a lounge chair and we're more like a roller coaster: way more energy, and it's real.
SL: Yes. It's educational but it gives a hypothetical value on something.
JLP: It could be worth this much, with the right market, at the right time, with the right buyer. With our show you're sitting with the buyer. This is how much it is worth to that buyer or four buyers at that time. That's the biggest difference.
SL: You'll learn what to look for; what something's worth; why you should or shouldn't buy it; why it is or isn't collectible. You'll have that educational part like the road show, but you're going to see real transactions afterwards: what it's really worth; what it really will sell for; and what somebody will really put down for it.
JLP: And the best thing is that you have four different opinions so it's not just a one-sided opinion. If you get four people who don't want it, either go check it somewhere else, or get real.
ER: Some people leave our show with money in their pockets; some people leave our show virtually crying; some people leave our show escorted by security. I can't be too specific, but one person came on and they were building a collection for years. The lady spent about four hundred thousand dollars on it and then when she went from room to room and found out that it was worthless, it was shocking, shocking. She thought she was going to make money.
DM: What's shocking is that people actually come in thinking they're going to make money; that we're actually going to buy these pieces that have no value.
JLP: And for their price, or that we're not negotiating for those items. One big part of this is if we are interested in an item, there's negotiation involved. If you're going to ask that pie in the sky price, you better have your floor price as well.
ER: If you're collecting something for your therapy and it's fun for you to collect, we're probably not paying you for it.
tV: There are obviously going to be contestants who will walk away very disappointed. Has there been anything that slipped past you, that you wished hadn't gotten away?
JLP: Oh yah, I lost stuff. I lost stuff and someone else got it. Definitely watch Scott (laughs). He's a smooth operator. That's what makes it great on our side: to be competitive in that way. We're happy when we get it, or someone else gets something you wanted. Well, Eddy's never happy.
ER: I had to buy an item from Scott.
JLP: (laughs) but that's the fun of the show. We had a great time filming this. It was an amazing experience to get up every morning and go, “I wonder what I'm going to see today?” You'll see something in the morning and then sometimes never see it again. It's this anticipation all day of, “I've got to get this piece.”
tV: Are the items people bringing primarily Canadian?
JLP: They can be from anywhere. There is a lot of Canadiana.
ER: There are a lot of First Nations things. We had a lot of memorabilia from hockey; The Beatles; John Lennon.
DM: Stamp collections, art. We always tell everybody that the stars of the show are the pieces. As dealers we deal with this stuff every day so we were all blown away by the pieces that CBC brought in.
ER: One lady was digging in her garden and found something worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. The stories are amazing.
JLP: Some of the items are priceless.
tV: So then how do you put a price on something that's priceless?
JLP: You've got to tune in for that part (laughs).
Four Rooms air January 2014. Click on CBC for show times.