Guest Post: Albert Tanquero’s California Adventure (Pt. 2)

Thanks to Albert Tanquero for contributing the story of his California shopping trip, trawling antique stores in search of  strange and unusual vintage photos and other ephemera – inventory for his his thriving Ebay vintage photo store and inspiration for he and his partner Jim York’s innovative stationary company The Found. Check out their new Matchbox line of cards, which I really, really love! Here’s Albert with part two of his trilogy. Click here for part one.

Monday in Laguna Beach

I awake in sunny Laguna Beach a block from an ocean I won’t be able to enjoy. Today my mission is to make the 45 minute drive to Orange City to visit about a dozen antique shops. I can’t stop being distracted by so many young, blond, tan and attractive people. There is an opulence in the O.C. that you have to see to believe. It’s somewhere between crass and slightly interesting.

Ebay and the Business of Selling

Selling on eBay is much more complicated than you think. It requires business savvy which I clearly did not have when I started. You have to market yourself, ship items, follow up with clients and build relationships. It took about 6 months for me to really get the hang of it – to learn the tricks of selling and to figure out what my “brand” would look like. But most importantly, I had to learn what clients wanted to buy and where I would find the photos.

Continued . . .

Orange City, CA

Orange City doesn’t feel like California. It’s a small town with a small downtown full of little antique shops and boutiques. It reminds me of the small towns I’ve driven through in the Midwest with American flags hanging out of almost every other shop. I enter store after store finding not much of anything: old Victorian studio portraits of kids, photos of older men, blurry snapshots – not many with character. Everything is ‘granny chic’ – lacy nightmares in my book! I just drove an hour in crazy, California freeway frenzy, visited seven shops, and I still haven’t found anything. I’m getting frustrated and on top of that, everyone seems conservative, tight, closed off. Isn’t this supposed to be California? Maybe the recession is getting to them. But there’s still one antique shop to see.

When I enter I’m pointed to an area with loose snapshots- finally some interesting double exposures and artsy shots. I make my way downstairs and see an incredibly strange photo album full of 80’s-era Polaroids. Of people’s mouths. Clearly it had belonged to a dentist. The photos show yellow teeth, bucked teeth, teeth w/decay, teeth adorned with braces, sick, twisted, strange and perfect. My cup of tea.

I bring it upstairs to the register and I’m shocked to see a poster of Sarah Palin on the wall behind the clerk. Don’t they realize she lost? “That’s the most disgusting thing we’ve ever seen,” says the plump woman behind the counter when she sees the dental photos. “Who would want this?” We’re in California – aren’t people are supposed to like strange? I just flash a toothy smile (although nothing like the ones in the album) and thank her as I run to my car. I’m getting the heck out of Orange City! Another day, another dollar.

My Clients

My clients on eBay, which include some well known photographers, artists, and affluent professionals, want photos they can’t find at an antique shop. They want photos that are hard to find and edited. That’s why they pay me outrageous prices for snapshots. The rules are clear and obvious. I drive around looking for photography they can add to their collection. Photos that tell a story about American history. I’m willing to go anywhere to find them, and I’ve seen everything. Or at least I thought I had.

What did Albert see that surprised even his jaded eyes? Keep watching for part 3 of Albert’s California adventure.

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4 Responses to “Guest Post: Albert Tanquero’s California Adventure (Pt. 2)”

  1. Ooh! Albert – let me know if you still have the top image for sale – I LOVE IT!

  2. Albert! I love the way you tell a story and I love your finds and FOUND.

  3. I meant to say THE FOUND.

  4. Hi, Albert, what will I have to pay you for the August ’69 shot of the TV screen with the lunar module on it “Lunar Touchdown”? It is priceless (she said unwisely, just driving up the sticker price a few more dollars)…