Preteens find their place in Surrey’s ‘picking’ scene

SURREY – You know you’re a "picker" when…


You arrive at 7 a.m. for an 8 a.m. garage sale and skulk about on the sidewalk like some freaky stalker dude.


You trade your car for a pickup truck and season tickets to the local flea market.


You wear tats and/or cowboy hats and/or anything else that distinguishes you from the common horde, and then star in a TV series with the word "picker" in it.


Or you’re a seemingly normal 12-year-old girl living in Rosemary Heights.


It is here, in this generally conservative South Surrey neighbourhood, that young Lyric Kennedy goes about her daily routine.


A routine that, for the most part, wouldn’t raise an eyebrow. School, pre-teen dances, hanging out at the mall, a fascination with Katy Perry. And, because Facebook is apparently now so passé, Instagram.


Those kids and their Instagram.


But deep within Lyric’s soul – an "old soul" says her mom – lurks something far more unusual, far more…obsessive.


It is the desire to find, buy and obtain hidden treasures and (hopefully) re-sell those treasures for a profit. This is the essence of "picking," and Lyric’s got it bad.


At her home this Monday afternoon, Lyric sits with best buddy and picking co-conspirator Alyssa Martin, combing through some of their recent finds.


A musical jewelry box, a gargantuan old suitcase, an iron tray with a brick inside that, I’m told, was once used to warm cold feet. Over there are some miniature liquor bottles, right next to a metal milk jug and a decorative mirror.


Lyric is the arguably the more hardcore of the two. When asked if she thinks she’ll always be a picker, she responds with an immediate "Yes." Alyssa, conversely, isn’t so sure.


The 11-year-old makes no bones about it – she thinks she may have to put it behind her one day when she’s schooling to be an interior designer. Pretty heady talk for a girl still in elementary school.


Together, they’ve left few stones unturned in their quest for prime pickings. Garage sales, flea markets, pawn shops, recycling bins and, yes, even the dreaded "g" word.


And for good reason, explains the gregarious Lyric. "One day my friends and I were hanging out and they were like ‘Why are you going in the garbage?’ But I found this one painting and I went back home and wondered, ‘Who is this person?’ I looked on the Internet and we contacted him and said we have one of your paintings. He contacted us back and told me this is an original painting and it’s worth $1000."


Granted, heavy-duty scores like that are rare. Sometimes the search for buried treasure – which takes place every weekend for this dedicated duo – is futile. But even then, the day is usually salvaged.


"When we go to garage sales, we look in the free bin – if they have a free bin – and see if they have metal scraps or stuff like that that we can stick on our jewelry or other pieces, then we take it."


This weekend, Alyssa and Lyric will bring their finds and their creations with them when they operate their very own booth at the Cloverdale Agriplex’s Vintage and Revamped Furniture Market. It’s a big step forward for these two young entrepreneurs in a game dominated by much older veterans.


Doesn’t hurt that they both have such supportive parents. Though they don’t outright fund their kids’ hobby – preferring instead to let them fully experience both the ups and the downs of business – they do provide transportation and suggestions and a whole bunch of other perks.


This weekend, for example, the Agriplex booth promises to be fully decked out with mom-created signs and flags and assorted paraphernalia. And a donation tin for Sources Food Bank, too.


Time will tell if the pair will one day rule the picking roost, but right now it’s very much a labour of love. Lyric, who gravitated to it at the ridiculous age of four, and Alyssa, brought up in a home where picking was in before it was fashionable, adore what they do and seemingly live for the concept of vintage.


And in a throwaway world dominated by the mistaken need for the latest and the newest, that’s kinda nice, don’t you think?

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