Before becoming a camera collector, I don’t think I had ever set foot in a thrift store. I disdained flea markets despite living 5 minutes from one of the best in New England. That has certainly changed. Like the rest of my methods, there are a few tricks.
The first tip for thrift shopping is persistence. You will learn which local stores often have good cameras, and which do not. Build up a list of good prospects and visit them regularly. I have four, one of which is a gold mine. Most times I will still leave empty handed.
Last week, though, I landed a $10 Pentax K1000 with a partially exposed roll film in it. They turned out to be local history photos, and the camera works too. That’s a win.
Bring a smartphone. When buying on eBay or Craigslist, you have time for research. In person you don’t. When you find a potential camera, Camera Wiki provides a quick reference for details about the model; eBay will give you a quick reference as to value. A Google search can tell you about common failure modes and pitfalls.
If it looks good, buy it. Thrift stores do good work with your $10.
There is one final way I find my cameras: family and friends. When word gets out that you collect, they will find all sorts of interesting things and present them to you.
Which brings me to Week 53! (teaser)
Happy hunting, and enjoy shooting with your new finds!