'Great Treasure Hunt' buyers evaluate your stuff

You've probably heard the saying that one man's trash is another man's treasure.

Well, a group of so-called "treasure hunters" from North Carolina is in the Capitol City this week, offering to pay cash for your trash. But that's got some local businesses ticked off.

It's like a traveling antiques road show. You bring your old posters, baseballs, gold and they'll give you cash on the spot.

Will Whitaker is with the group called "The Great Treasure Hunt." He travels across the country buying old antiques, then reselling them for profit.

The organization - which has been around for over 20 years - follow all state laws and and buys higher than local competition, Whitaker said.

"We're obviously here to make a profit," said Whitaker. "But we're also here hoping the people from Jefferson City...will come out, sell us some of the old items they don't want, don't need and we can offer them a fair price."

Fair enough. But these treasure hunters are really looking for hidden gems. It's quick and easy but they don't formally appraise your antiques - they mostly give it a good guess.

"We don't actually give them a piece of paper or anything with a seal on it that says, 'this is worth this much,'" said Whitaker. We just offer 'em an offer and if it's something they would like to have we give 'em the money for it."

With gold sales spiking, Whitaker says he's offering customers prices that are higher than they would get at any pawn shop.

Still, some Jefferson City jewelers say consumers are getting short changed.

"They're going to take your gold and the profits and everything out of town," said Todd Vandelicht, who's owned a jewelry store for 17 years. "That's why we're telling you please shop locally. That way you can get a fair price for your gold and keep all the profits in town."

Vandelicht says it takes his certified appraisers up to eight hours to value gold, compared to the few minutes it takes the treasure hunters. Since they're only in town for a few days he worries customers won't get a fair shake.

Other jewelers agree and say it's best to shop around.

"If you have a piece that you're wanting to sell, check around," said Mary Kay Kempker, owner of the Blue Diamond. "See what the piece is worth. Make sure that you're getting a good value for what you have."

Ensuring your valuables stay that way.

The treasure hunters will be at the Candlewood Suites in Jefferson City all this week, wrapping around 2 p.m. Sat. April 25.