Antiques dealer finds years of treasures in a neglected house
YouTube has become a platform for people like makeup mogul Jeffree Star, toy reviewer Ryan ToysReview and gamer PewDiePie to become famous.
Antiques collector Alexander Archbold also found some fame from YouTubing, gaining in popularity after he made a series of videos about purchasing a house filled to the brim with possessions renowned Canadian potter Mary Borgstrom accumulated. Read on to find out how he made money off the purchase and saved valuable artwork and family heirlooms in the process.
1. It all started when Alexander Archbold was looking for a change
He didn’t always have a store and popular web series. Alberta, Canada-based Archbold worked various jobs before his antique dealing and YouTube career. This included opening a toy shop with his wife at one point, working in the film industry and managing two Apple stores. These experiences didn’t quench his thirst for adventure, however.
“It was a good paying job, but it didn’t have any adventure,” Alexander Archbold tells Money.com. “I felt like a piece of machinery.” He was unhappy and needed to find another venture that would bring him purpose, meaning and most importantly, adventure.
NEXT: This had been an interest of his since age nine.
2. Archbold always loved antiques
“I started buying and selling at nine-years-old,” Archbold told Finance101. “I would set up at antique shows and I’d be sitting there next to senior citizens who were selling dishes and I’d be there at nine-years-old selling toys.” At first, it was because he wanted new toys — he bought broken toys and fixed them.
Then, he discovered he could earn extra cash from buying and reselling things he thrifted. “My folks worked really hard but they had a really tough time making ends meet,” Archbold explains. He’d go around to various garage sales, buy things, then resell them for more money.
NEXT: When your childhood interest becomes your career.
3. He and his wife opened an antique store
With his wife Melissa Archbold, he opened an antique store late 2016. An adventurer at heart, Archbold thought owning a store and being his own boss would offer the flexible schedule he desired. Mrs. Archbold is a preschool teacher, so she mostly focuses on that while Archbold works at the unique antique shop.
He says she’s very supportive of the shop, however. They called the Edmonton, Alberta-based store Curiosity Incorporated. Instead of spending money on marketing, Archbold decided to work on the store’s social media presence to build awareness of Curiosity Incorporated.
NEXT: There was one series of YouTube videos that really skyrocketed his popularity starting mid-January 2019.
4. He began building an online presence for his store
Archbold didn’t start making money off his YouTube channel at first — with things like this, it takes time. YouTube pays YouTubers based on how many people engage with its ads, not video views. You’re more likely to make money the more views you get, however. With a subscribership of 239,888 (as of May, 2019), Archbold probably makes some sweet cash.
He already had a strong YouTube presence when his most popular series took off — “The Potter’s House.” The first video, “Potters House Part 1. We bought a hoarded house! 100 years of stuff! what will we find???,” has over 1.8 million views.
NEXT: Curiosity Incorporated’s YouTube channel took off when Archbold purchased this derelict home.
5. The “Potter’s House” YouTube series took off
The home belonged to renowned Canadian potter Mary Borgstrom. Borgstrom was known for her work in what is called primitive pottery. Her daughter and son-in-law sold Archbold the home for $20,000 Canadian Dollars (CAD). This is equivalent to almost $15,000 USD. Borgstrom developed a hoarding disorder later in her life, accumulating enough possessions to fill her house top to bottom.
Borgstrom’s children had considered bulldozing the home or doing a controlled burn on the home. Archbold is glad they didn’t. “More than buying the house and more than trying to find some treasures to sell, preserving her legacy has been probably the most important thing,” he tells Finance101.
NEXT: This might be why viewers love his YouTube channel so much.
6. Archbold’s YouTube videos look professionally made
We imagine his channel could easily be televised on A&E or HGTV or a similar channel (in fact, he says he’s been approached by networks but hasn’t sealed a deal yet)! Archbold had previous experience working in the film industry which lent itself to the professionalism in his YouTube videos. “We wanted it to feel very much like someone was watching an actual produced television show,” says Archbold.
“I do try and take some time when it comes to the editing to put music in and make people see and feel the emotion that I saw and felt,” explains Archbold. When Archbold went through Borgstrom’s possessions, he tried to be as systematic and quick about it — this methods lends itself to an engaging video.
NEXT: Some rooms of Borgstrom’s house were impassable.
7. Plenty happens in the first episode
In the first video of the “Potter’s House” series, Archbold drives out to the home in Provost (which is about two hours away from his store in Edmonton, Alberta) in an old ambulance painted like the GhostBusters car. On the way, he runs out of gas and gets pulled over by a police officer, who wanted to hear the lights and sirens.
The video, titled “Potters House Part 1. We bought a hoarded house! 100 years of stuff! what will we find???,” he gives viewers some background on vintage hunting as well revealing the hoarder house. Upon entering the house, the piles of stuff is anxiety-inducing.
NEXT: “Where do you even start?”
8. The Potter’s House was filled top to bottom with things
There were military covers for legs, old telephones, clothes, old cards, embroidery, old picture frames — it seems like junk to some, but Archbold found some valuables his first sweep through the place. For example, picture frames belonging to a Canadian train company.
Archbold stayed at a nearby hotel overnight and went back to the property the next day to continue digging. He decided to explore the outside of the property, finding a couple things of value like an old roof rack off a car and a 1930s art deco lamp.
NEXT: This is what Archbold decided to do with all of Borgstrom’s old stuff.
9. Archbold brings a dumpster to clear out trash from Borgstrom’s house
Some of the items that needed to be thrown out included basically everything in the kitchen — Borgstrom left food in the freezer, fridge, counter, and on the floor. Archbold removed the items in the kitchen first because it’s where most of the potentially hazardous items was located. Slowly the kitchen became cleaner and cleaner — much less biohazardous!
As he would go through the piles of things in the house, Archbold would put aside things to sell in the future. He found a couple interesting items, like a vintage car lantern. Other items were set aside to donate to charity, like clean clothing.
NEXT: Some very valuable items were hidden in the piles of things.
10. Archbold found a 2,000 year-old Peruvian jug
Of course, the house itself has the greatest value, Archbold says (the home is currently on the market!) but he found some other valuable items as well. He says that he found about 180 pieces of pottery in the house, of which many sold at an excess of $1,000 to $3,000 each.
When asked what the coolest thing he found was, Archbold said a 2,000-year-old Peruvian jug. Imagine such an impressive artifact hidden underneath Borgstrom’s things. Archbold says he held one auction and split the $62,000 CAD proceeds with Borgstrom’s family.
NEXT: See what the home looks like now with all of Borgstrom’s things removed.
11. Borgstrom’s house looks completely different now
In this YouTube video, Archbold digs through the stuff on the porch and attic. At this point, a good portion of the house has been cleared but there are still treasures to be found. Archbold finds interesting items like old photographs, old books like Let Me Tell You Your Fortune and The Alasker Way, and vintage shopping catalogs.
At this point, the Potter’s House is looking clean and spacious, with nice tiles, stained glass windows, new windows, tasteful decorations, and other items to make it look more homey. Years of stuff made the home impassable but now it looks nice and comfortable.
NEXT: If you’re willing to move to Provost, Alberta, you might be able to afford this home.
12. The Potter’s House is now on the market
Archbold told Finance101 that it’s now on the market for $249,900 CAD. Located in Provost, Alberta, the home is described as a two and one half story craftsman which has qualified as a historic site. Borgstrom’s home is represented by realtor Sharon Oracheski of Re/Max Baughan Realty LTD in Alberta, Canada.
The description for the four bedroom and two bath home says it has plenty of modern upgrades including hot water tanks, plumbing, increased electrical outlets, circuit panel updates, modern smart dehumidifying furnace, fresh paint, new deck, and a new front porch. Nothing like a refurbished home!
NEXT: This is when Borgstrom’s hoarding disorder began.
13. Borgstrom started hoarding after her husband died
Her notoriety as an artist began to dwindle and Borgstrom became somewhat of a recluse Archbold says. “People in the town…thought she was the eccentric lady that went out to yard sales and bought things until [her car was] completely full,” says Archbold. They might have had no idea she was a world famous potter.
He was able to do an interview with her for his YouTube channel. The video is titled “Mary Borgstrom – Potter.” They had a lot to talk about. “Going through the house, I feel like I almost know you now, after seeing your art and your legacy here,” Archbold told Borgstrom.
NEXT: In his interview with Borgstrom, Archbold found out a lot about her incredible life.
14. “She was an ‘Amelia Earhart’ kind of lady.”
“Before she was married, she rode motorcycles, she’d go to the mountains and feed bears by hand,” Archbold says. “She was a very adventurous lady. She was an ‘Amelia Earhart’ kind of lady.” When she got married and had children, Borgstrom put adventuring on hold to care for her family. It wasn’t until her children were grown that she got into pottery and excelled at the art.
After assuring Borgstrom he saved as many family heirlooms as he could from her house, he began asking her questions about her life. Despite her numerous accolades, Borgstrom came off as humble in Archbold’s video, even suggesting he interview another artist instead.
NEXT: Very few artists in Canada could do the kind of work Borgstrom could.
15. Mary Borgstrom was known for her primitive pottery work
She started her pottery career in her 50s and quickly excelled. Finding success after 40 isn’t unheard of but it’s rare. Borgstrom was known for her work in what is known as primitive pottery (usually described as indigenous Canadian art), quickly coming to prominence in 1969 as one of the most unique artists in the province of Alberta.
“She would do it in the exact same way that the indigenous native American people would do it,” says Archbold. “She would ground fire — use natural things to burn to get the heat and the temperature right.” Very few people could replicate the difficult processes that she could do.
NEXT: Borgstrom’s career got started with a ceramics class in Provost, Alberta.
16. Borgstrom attended her first primitive art class in 1966
“I had no special training — it all came from up here,” Borgstrom said of where the inspiration for her art came from. Her initial introduction to ceramics was in a short concentrated course in Provost in the early 1960s, Archbold’s YouTube video found. Hal Riegger, a well-known ceramics instructor, taught the course Borgstrom took on primitive fired ceramics in 1966.
This involved unique techniques like digging her own clay from the Earth. “All clay isn’t equal,” she told Archbold. She was so well regarded that she was chosen to represent Canada in the Arts and Culture Program of the XXI Olympics in 1976 in Montreal.
NEXT: This is the way her work gained worldwide recognition.
17. She had a very successful and fascinating career
“I was surprised that I was asked,” Borgstrom told Archbold about the Olympics. “It was overwhelming.” After the Olympics, the Montreal Museum of Art acquired several of Borgstrom’s pieces. More accolades and exposure came her way. By the 1970s, she was earning national recognition. For example, Borgstrom was presented with the Canadian Guild of Crafts Quebec’s “Award of Excellence.”
Her work was shown all over Canada and the United States. Borgstrom’s name made its way outside of North America, having shows in Japan, London, and other places around the world. She was truly incredible!
NEXT: Archbold felt like he was helping Borgstrom and her family in this way.
18. Archbold feels like he helped Borgstrom and her family
Borgstrom died April 3, 2019, at the age of 102. Through Archbold’s search through her home, the renovation and YouTube channel, he felt he was able to help her before she left. He was even able to get her home in Provost, Alberta officially designated as a historical site! If you purchase Borgstrom’s home, you’ll be the owner of a historical building.
Archbold had the pleasure of telling Borgstrom that she was nominated for the Order of Canada — the country’s equivalent of being knighted, says Archbold. This comes in second to the Order of Merit — that comes directly from Canada’s monarch (Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom).
NEXT: Archbold’s YouTube channel helped Curiosity Incorporated in this way.
19. A lot of new customers find out about Curiosity through YouTube
Local customers already know about his antique store because it existed before his YouTube channel, says Archbold. But a lot more customers have found out about his store through Curiosity Incorporated’s channel — even ones that don’t live in town.
“At one point, whenever I put a video up of me searching through the house, I had this overwhelming response — an overwhelming amount of emails…of people wanting to buy things that they saw that I found in [Borgstrom’s] house,” says Archbold. It became an effective marketing tool.
NEXT: Those that don’t live in Edmonton, Alberta can still purchase a Curiosity Incorporated product.
20. You can find a variety of items in Curiosity Incorporated
Archbold sells his items at his physical store in Edmonton, located at 10056 164 Street. Buyers can also view available stock on Curiosity’s Instagram and Facebook. Interested buyers can message Archbold about products they want to buy and Curiosity will ship the items out to them. Curiosity has an affiliate program with Amazon.
His antiques aren’t for sale on Amazon but rather he recommends products on his page to shoppers. Some of the things on there now are an Aviator Black Leather Vintage WWII Hat and a Red Canoe Boeing Stow Bag.
NEXT: This is how Archbold finds items for Curiosity’s inventory. Hint: It’s not through estate sales!
21. He finds his antiques through leads
Rarely does Archbold have to go to estate sales to find antiques to sell at Curiosity Inc. Like Borgstrom’s house, his finds usually come from a lead. “Somebody will call or they’ll say that there are items that they might have for sale or that a family member has for sale,” says Archbold.
“And would I be interested in going to look?” says Archbold. “Sometimes things just walk in the door, too. So I’ll just be sitting at the store and uh, and somebody walks over to the big box of treasures.” Potential sellers sometimes recognize him on the street from his YouTube channel, too.
NEXT: The more historic artifacts are interesting to Archbold — like this wedding gift he found recently.
22. Archbold found a wedding gift from famed explorer John Franklin
While on an expedition searching for the Northwest Passage, John Franklin died in the Nunavut territory, Canada in 1847. The crew’s remains and a written account of the expedition were finally found in 1848, says Encyclopedia Britannica. Archbold happened to find one of Franklin and his wife’s wedding gifts recently — a little paperweight.
“I found it in the base of someone’s house,” says Archbold. “The more historic artifacts are more interesting to me.” Curiosity Incorporate sells all kinds of antiques — from pinball machines to old swords — but it’s these kinds of discoveries that Archbold values the most.
NEXT: If Archbold hadn’t discovered the true value of this Disney artifact, the seller would have missed out on a lot of money.
23. Archbold once bought a 1937 Disney animation cell someone found in the trash
Adam Gillian was a homeless man that had been in Curiosity Inc. a few times to sell knick knacks here and there. One day in September 2018 he brought in a Bambi print, something he’d found after searching through dumpsters. Archbold agreed to buy it for $20. Later upon further inspection, Archbold discovered something incredible.
When he removed the print’s shabby frame, he discovered a certificate authenticating the print as a 1937 animation cell from Disney’s Bambi movie. The buyer paid $3,700 CAD and Archbold gave Gillian half the profits. Archbold tells Finance101, Gillian is no longer homeless.
NEXT: Sometimes he can sell an item for thousands depending on what it is.
24. Archbold purchased a 1967 Porsche for $8K and flipped it for a lot more
When asked what was the most expensive thing that he sold, Archbold brings up a 1967 Porsche that he found. He bought it for $8,000 and sold it the next day for $35,000. That was a pretty quick turnaround — but don’t expect to resell your old Porsche that fast. Archbold is a professional!
He’s sold other items for massive prices as well. “I’ve had like little Rolex watches that have gone for $40,000 — it really depends on what the item is,” Archbold tells Finance101. Sometimes there can be a lot of cash in antiques!
NEXT: Here’s what is next for Alexander Archbold and his antique dealing.
25. The Archbolds are looking to buy a historic building
It makes sense to have an antique store in an actual antique building, right? According to Money, he and his wife Melissa are thinking about buying a historic commercial building and turning it into an antique store. Although the dream isn’t quite a reality just yet, Archbold is excited about the prospect.
“I bought showcases for the new building, which I don’t even own or have yet,” says Archbold. “I was like, ‘these are these gonna be perfect when I eventually get the building.’” Currently, they’re being housed in his garage at home.
NEXT: Here’s more about the hoarding disorder that potter Mary Borgstrom developed later in her life.
26. Hoarding as a mental illness
Sure, hoarding seems like an interesting thing for the morbidly curious to view on TV show Hoarders on the A&E Network. Perhaps that’s why Archbold’s “Potter’s House” series was so popular. Everyone likes watching the trainwrecks featured on many reality television shows — this is especially true of Hoarders.
Although it might be an entertaining show, there’s usually a lot of personal pain involved in a hoarding situation. Mayo Clinic describes hoarding disorder as “a persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions.” It’s a mental disorder that plagues some — especially as they get older and older.
NEXT: What is the politically correct way to talk about people with hoarding disorders?
27. Should you use the “H-word”?
Technically it’s correct to use the word “hoarder,” as it’s been listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DMS-5) as such for years. However, some people might find the term offensive — especially if they are hoarding and in denial about it. Reddit user sethra007 suggests using terms like “chronic disorganization,” “inefficient storage,” and “persistent disarray.”
Changing language around might potentially make the difference in being able to help a family member or loved one that’s hoarding possessions or animals. If they’re hurting themselves, someone else or if animals are involved in the hoard, authorities need to be contacted.
NEXT: People hoard because of a deeper problem usually.
28. People hoard because they’re terrified of losing their possessions
The same Mayo Clinic article says individuals with hoarding disorder feel a need to save all of their possessions, regardless of the condition or value. If presented with the idea of getting rid of their items, the person with hoarding disorder begins to express distress. In the “Potter’s House,” Borgstrom was hoarding all sorts of items.
There were clothes, books, tools, photos — you name it. Archbold was even pulling moldy food out of nooks and crannies of the kitchen. Hoarding can range from mild to severe — the potter’s situation was definitely severe judging by Archbold’s videos. Possessions covered the floor and reached the ceiling in nearly every room.
NEXT: Treating hoarding disorder is often very difficult.
29. The symptoms of hoarding aren’t always obvious
However, hoarding can range from mild to severe and might not be completely obvious when symptoms first start to develop. Hoarding disorders can start to develop when one is a teenager and get progressively worse as they get older. Mayo Clinic says that hoarding can begin at age 11 or 15 and get worse with age. It’s more common in older rather than younger adults.
Hoarding tends to be a very private behavior — you might not notice someone has started hoarding unless you live with them or visit them often. Another challenge to treatment is that the individual might not see the problem with their hoarding situation and refuse treatment.
NEXT: Here’s what you should do if a loved one starts hoarding.
30. Get help if you suspect a loved one of hoarding
If your loved one has a hoarding disorder, they probably might not realize that it’s a problem and that they need to get help. You can take matters into your own hands and consult with a doctor or mental health professional. Mayo Clinic says that some cities have agencies that assist with hoarding problems.
Like we stated in previous slides, it might be hard to get your loved one to accept help and change their living situation. They might collect these items because they believe that they might need them in the future or these items hold emotional significance for them. As hard as it might be, getting help is best for their health and safety.