During your antique store perusing you will find items marked "as is." There's always a little bit of debate amongst collectors and dealers as to what "as is" really means and when it should be used. Some people feel it sort of goes without saying that all vintage, older, antique and used items are being sold "as is" meaning not as pristine as they were the day they were made. Additionally, some pieces are hand made. This means there may not be in perfect machine made symmetry. They also may have been made with a quirk purposefully to accommodate a specific need.
Other collectors and dealers believe the term "as is" should not be used on items displaying the expected normal wear and tear. It should be reserved for items that have actual damage, like chips, scratches, cracks, excessive wear or a missing part.
But the line in between normal wear and excessive wear is often subjective, so nowadays it is not uncommon for an antique store owner to err on the side of caution. All it takes is a few difficult customers to force any dealer to want to mark anything and everything "as is" to avoid any confusion. And vice versa - all it takes is a few slippery salesmen to make any customer inspect all potential purchases and complain for any flaw at all.
Assuming that an "as is" piece is not a piece showing normal age and wear, but is actually flawed in some way, should true collectors shy away?
This is a personal decision. It depends on what you're collecting, how quickly you want your collection to grow, and how much money you have to invest.
You'll be able to find items for less, and you'll be able to find them more commonly, when they are "as is." This is a great option if you are starting out a collection. As your collection grows you can always swap up as you find better examples. Also, you might want to hunt down the "as is" items when you're closing in on a complete collection as a sort of place holder, especially if the pieces you're waiting for are extremely rare or extremely costly.
Some people actually prefer overly worn or used or even damaged items. Items such as vintage Levi's are sometimes even more appreciated when you can see fading, fraying and even holes that happened through hard use. The same is true with leather. A vintage book that shows it has been read over and over and over again with dog ears, swollen pages, and a cracked binding has a certain appeal. The same can be said for antique toys: while a pristine vintage teddy bear is a lovely treasure, there is something undeniably attractive about a worn teddy bear that really looks like a child played with it and loved it for many years. Even though he may be missing an eye or his ear is torn, he is a good example of an "as is" score.
Some pieces that have been broken and repaired are reflective of a time when people didn't waste, when they darned socks and glued broken pottery, and lived more frugally. Even though these items are considered "as is" for the flaw, the repair may make them all the more charming.
The only time you really want to be careful about picking up the "as is" item, is when there's a danger factor. For example, if you're collecting vintage aquarium decor that you're actually using in an aquarium, you want to very careful about chips or frayed wire as it could harm your fish.
Ultimately, it is great to aim high for your collection! It would be wonderful to have a collection you can be proud of, of fine quality good condition pieces, that you've put together over the years. But on your way to that goal, here and there, you should consider trying out and playing around with some "as is" place holders and starter pieces.
And who knows, maybe as your collection becomes better and better, and you replace pieces with better more pristine ones, you might want to consider selling the pieces you don't want anymore and becoming a dealer yourself.
At Scranberry Coop, we're proud to let you know that while we have a huge selection of truly high quality antique and vintage items in excellent condition, we also have a nice big variety of "as is" treasures. These may make it more affordable for you to fill in some holes in your collection, or try out some different things.
For example, maybe you've been collecting really pristine antique milk bottles. Maybe adding bottle racks, or caps, or metal milk boxes to your collection display would be fun. Trying out new ideas like that are affordable and easier to find if you're open to a dent or broken hinge, or worn cold paint. If it turns out to be an idea you like you can always replace those pieces with higher quality ones as you find them and can afford them. If it turns out you don't like the extras and just want to concentrate on the milk bottles, you aren't out too much for the experiment.
And maybe that old milk box will be a good planter on your front porch! Repurpose some "as is" items in a fun and go-green way.
We hope you'll explore our 10,000 square foot building. Come see the wares of more than 150 dealers. You might just find that missing piece to your collection, whether it be in Grade A condition, "as is" or somewhere in between.