Above: picker and dealer Tyler Martin, San Angelo, Texas.
Introducing a new feature to MCM Daily where we take a look at those in the business of MCM. Whether dealers, pickers, restoration specialists, auction houses, or other experts we hope to shed some light on those who work ‘behind the scenes’. This week we ask a few questions of picker and dealer Tyler Martin. While still a young man he’s already had several years of experience in the business and as well as being a picker he’s co-owner of Madstyle Vintage in San Angelo, Texas.
In a sentence, what is a picker?
Tyler: To me, being a picker is being a treasure hunter looking for good design and bringing it to people who love it as much as I do.
How did you come to picking?
Tyler: I’ve been a collector of mid-century modern design since I was 12 years old. I didn’t know that term at the time, but when I found that first piece I knew I’d discovered something special. Fast forward 10 years and my hobby/hoarding problem had turned into a business. I’ve been making money doing what I love ever since.
What is the furthest you’ve traveled for a pick?
Tyler: I haven’t traveled as far as I’d like to for a pick yet but I’m in west central Texas and I’ve sent friends as far as upstate New York to pick things up for me. Driving across the state of Texas can feel like a million miles though. I’m planning to make a trip sometime next year.
What do you consider your best pick?
Tyler: My best find wasn’t necessarily the most valuable, but I was so psyched when I found a set of 4 vintage Bertoia Diamond Chairs in somebody’s backyard. I couldn’t believe they were just out there getting rained on so I rescued them!
What would say is you most disappointing pick?
Tyler: I once had a lady tell me she had several vintage phones for sale. Upon closer inspection, it turned out they were just a bunch of beige touch-tone office phones from the late 80s or early 90s. She could not understand why I didn’t want them.
What has been your favorite pick?
Tyler: My favorite pick was at a local office. I was able to acquire a conference table with 6 Eero Saarinen Executive Chairs, and 3 matching Finn Juhl Fireplace Chairs in mint condition. I also became good friends with the seller, which led to more great purchases later. When I was allowed in her home for the first time I had to pick my jaw up of the floor. You couldn’t look anywhere without seeing Knoll, Platner, Eames, Wegner, etc.
As a picker what has been your oddest/strangest picking situation.
Tyler: I once went to an estate sale that had a nice walnut bedroom suite. When I tried to make a deal, the woman running the sale asked if I was a dealer. I have nothing to hide so I answered truthfully. She immediately proceeded to scream at my sister and me at the top of her lungs and then ran around the house while continuing to scream about us and at any other people that got in her way. Several people immediately left. That woman has issues.
What would you say are the three most essential tools?
What piece have you found that you would never sell?
Tyler: My favorite thing that I have found so far was from that friend with the house full of designer pieces. She sold me her Florence Knoll Parallel Bar Sofa and pair of matching chairs at a price so low it is obscene. The set was part of the original décor of a local bank, which opened in 1955. They are even orange which is my favorite color! The pieces are so stunning that I could never part with them.
What the best piece of advice you would you give to a collector?
Tyler: It’s OK to walk away. Sometimes it’s hard for me to follow my own advice but as much as you want to save everything, it’s just not possible.
Tyler Martin is a 25-year-old preservationist and lover of all things mid-century modern. He has a degree in computer-aided drafting and co-owns a shop with his sister Kendra in historic downtown San Angelo, Texas called Madstyle Vintage.
Please check out MCM Daily regular for more interviews with pickers and other experts in the business of MCM.