Antique Factory Carts Are Here, And Here, And Here…

This is the size of carts that Restoration Hardware sells for $1,000. Most of them are Nutting brand with round corners.

When my shop burned down last November, I went shopping for tools. Most of my big equipment came from one shop that went out of business in South St. Louis. While I was there loading up, I noticed some old lumber carts that the movers were using to clean out the space. I didn’t know much about the carts and never needed them in the past, but my new shop is much bigger and the carts were cool, so I decided to make an offer on them. I didn’t really have any money to spend, so I didn’t feel that I should offer too much, but I dug deep and offered $30 a piece. My timing was impeccable because they really wanted the place cleaned up and the fact that I didn’t offer much was apparently not an issue.

I have four of these wider Nutting carts with the bigger corner pockets from my original purchase.

I only came back with eight carts, but those eight carts started a movement, or at least got me involved in one. I started using the carts right away. They are strong, roll easily and fit nicely in the shop. I use them to move lumber from tool to tool and my customers use them to get their wood to their trucks. I line them up like at Home Depot to try to encourage large-scale shopping. So, I have the shop looking nice with lumber on the walls and the carts lined up to move my awesome lumber. But the reverse started to happen. Customers initially come in to look at lumber, but they and especially their wives, are drawn to the carts. I try to direct their attention to the lumber, but they keep asking about the carts. Where did I get them? How many do I have? Are they for sale? NO PEOPLE! They are for moving lumber in the shop. I only have eight and I use them all. Now, focus and let’s look at some lumber.

I didn’t get it until finally someone told me that similar carts are selling at Restoration Hardware for $1,000 and they are selling them as coffee tables – old, dirty, ragged coffee tables. Now, it made sense. Everyone was picturing these carts in front of their couch and assumed that they could make that dream a reality for less than $1,000 by purchasing my carts. I didn’t sell any because I really liked them and just didn’t think selling half of them would greatly change my financial future, so I kept working along and customers kept gawking.

For a couple of months I held out. That was until Crescent Planing Mill in downtown St. Louis went out of business. They had been around forever and had been collecting lumber carts the entire time. When the auction flyer went out the lead items were more than 200 antique Nutting and Lineberry factory carts. I just knew they were going to be mine. I was local and hoped the auction wasn’t well advertised, which would make them sell for a lower price. I knew, if nothing else, that I had an advantage because I didn’t have to ship them.

This set of parts came from our favorite carts, made by Charles Francis and featuring heart-spoked wheels. I only have two of these.

I showed up to the auction to hang out with 50 of my closest friends, all of whom where there to buy carts. The bidding started out on the best carts and the going price was $150, and if I would have gotten involved it would have gone higher. $150 was a lot more than $30, so I didn’t bid. I was expecting $50-$60, maybe as high as $75, but I wasn’t sure enough about the market on old carts and went to look at the rest of the auction items. I went back for the sale on the final carts and the prices weren’t budging. I didn’t buy even one.

After all of the hubbub of the auction had died down, I went back to purchase from the unsold list (an advantage of being local). To my surprise then (not now) about 30 carts were on the unsold list. I was surprised because literally everyone their would have given at least $25 for the carts, so there was no reason for them to be unsold. I attribute this to the worst auction that the world has ever seen, but that is another in-depth reporting story (probably called “Scott on Your Side” or something like that). I negotiated for the remaining carts and got them for a much more reasonable price of $50 each. Many of them needed a little help, but at that age we will all need a little help.

I started selling those carts on ebay and the average sale has been about $300. That price is good for me, and I think the customers are happy to not spend $1,000. They certainly are still buying. My ads give as much information as possible, and I include my blog address and phone number so people can call and ask questions if they so desire. It turned out that one did desire, and I got a call from Chicago, IL.

Jim called, said he was shutting down a factory and would make me a deal on 221 carts if I could get them out that week. Even at a low price the total was large. I knew that even though I didn’t want to tell my wife, she would find out on something this big. So, I introduced the topic to her and didn’t know how she would take it. I thought there was a chance that she would be encouraged after recent sales, but the overall cost was too big, and she wasn’t. She told me why she didn’t think it was a good idea, that I should focus on the woodworking, that I needed to make money instead of spend it, and otherwise focus on what I was doing. After she told me all the reasons to not go, she asked, “So when are you going to Chicago?” She knows me pretty well.

The funny thing is that now I have so may carts I can’t get to the lumber. But, that doesn’t stop everyone from asking, “Do you have a cart I could put this on?”

About these ads

Tags: , , , , , ,

About wunderwoods

Hi! My name is Scott Wunder and I am the owner of WunderWoods Custom Woodworking. We build wine cellars, built-ins and furniture from local woods, here in St. Louis, MO. Recently, I finished a three-year term as the President of the St. Louis Woodworkers Guild, which had me writing a monthly article for our newsletter. I love to write, especially about wood, and found that I still had more to say. Every day I run into something wood related that I realize some of my customers don't know and this seems like a great forum for sharing what I have learned (instead of telling the same story to each person). The main thing to remember is that I try to keep it light and as my wife always reminds people that have just met me, "He is joking."

36 responses to “Antique Factory Carts Are Here, And Here, And Here…”

  1. swfordyce@aol.com says :

    ps This guy is a friend, I set him up in a location for his sawmill. He’s a nice guy, about 45 or 50, who just loves cutting up trees. His main business is custom lumber milling. Love, W

  2. Jim Motto says :

    Nice post. the carts started getting hot about 1.5 yrs. ago and remain very sellable. The Ely Walker lofts downtown use one as part of their lobby furniture.

  3. Jamar says :

    I work for restoration hardware, these carts sell like crazy!!

  4. David says :

    Do you have any carts left?

  5. kurtis labby says :

    I don’t mean to sound ignorant I found one of these on Craigslist, are you selling some of these carts?

  6. Kathy Lawhorn says :

    Love these carts! I have one in my family room. My son is into woodworking like you and I wish he would do what you are doing. I know these are popular because I hosted a bridal shower last year and some of my guests went crazy over my table. Keep up the great work and I’m sorry about the fire. Subscribing to your blog.

  7. Tom Stamatovski says :

    do you have any extra sets of hardware you would sell?

  8. thegregthompson says :

    Hey, looking to find a lineberry. Do you have any left? Do you ship? Thanks!

  9. Olivia Blair says :

    Hey I plan to contact you but before I do first of all do you have any of these carts left? I would love one! I actually just came across the Lineberry Factory Carts site @ factorycarts.com and they actually can be bought directly from them for $350 and $450 for a totally redone cart which looks like it just came off the factory floor. Of course that doesn’t include the shipping price. There”s also a guy on Etsy that’s selling some for around $300 a piece. So what’s the best price you can do??

  10. Olivia Blair says :

    I hope my post doesn’t offend you I’m just a starving artist and single mom so I’m just trying to get the best deal I can. I’m familiar with architectural salvage and also know the market my backgrounds in furniture design so your right on they are also out there for exorbitant amounts. I just thought I’d share some resources I’d found so I had them also to back me up, but not to dissuade your buyers market either because i feel for you having to start from the ground up again after loosing your shop and revenue to fire. So I give you kudos for coming up with a clever way to market some salvaged finds.
    Best of luck to you, and I’d also like a bargain if i can get one!
    Thang Que!!!

    • wunderwoods says :

      No problem. I am not offended. My carts usually sell on ebay and go from $150 to $600 depending on condition and if the bidders are feeling frisky that day. I sell them from my shop for $250 -$300 for the good ones. For fun I went to the website that you directed me to and noticed that two of their photos are actually my photos of carts in my shop. I’ll call it flattery.

  11. Ron says :

    I recently toured the basement of an old warehouse and purchased 9 factory carts. All different styles. I have found some names on a few (Hamilton/Thomas) but most have no markings of the manufacturer…but some have the original purchasers label/stencil. Where do I go to find out what I have?

    • wunderwoods says :

      Good question. Most of mine have been Nutting and Francis with a few others tossed in (Thomas, for example). Usually, they are in batches and all are similar, so once one is identified you know what the others are. At the same time, I will tell you that I have run across several one-offs and some that I couldn’t identify. I haven’t found a good source yet for determining the maker, except for markings and luck.

  12. Nicky van Tiel says :

    Dearest,
    I am looking for a full set of hardware(everything but the wood) to make muself one of these awesome carts, the problem is i live in holland so the shipping of a whole cart costs a fortune, please contact me if you can ship me a set, you’d make me very happy.
    Greets,

    Nicky

    • wunderwoods says :

      Nicky,

      Sorry, but I only ship in the US.

      • Nicky says :

        Thats unfortunate, but in that case i’ll arrange the shipping myself through an acquiantance in NY.
        What will the shipping cost to send it there, and what are tha approx. size and weight? (Considering you are willing to sell a set of just the metal hardware) And ofcourse, what will that cost me?
        I hope we can work this out, i really want one, but the ones i’ve come across in europe were way to expensive

        Greets

      • wunderwoods says :

        I sell a set of hardware for $175. I will send you a photo of them before I ask for payment. It seems silly to ship to NY, just to ship to you. If you would like to arrange the shipping on your end, I will be happy to get it to you directly and skip NY.

      • Nicky says :

        Please do send some pics if you please. And how will i have to arrange shipping? Sorry i don’t understand what you mean. I hope you can help me acquire a set with your experience. PLease contact me on my e-mail for further details. Greets, Nicky

  13. Ray Gervais says :

    Do you sell and ship the parts for a factory cart. Just looking for the hardware. Thanks

  14. colleen says :

    Do you have any large carts left and what would be the price. Are they expensive to ship? We live in DC.

  15. Marty Danco says :

    Brad, I have a Lineberry cart that has 4 left side corner post holders, it was modified awkwardly by somebody long ago. Do you have (2) ESP 14-R post holders you would sell so I can restore this cart?

  16. christine donda says :

    Hi I found a Nutting cart in a chicago alley it is in beautiful condition. Someone removed the orginal wheel hardware. I have the 4 corner hardware. The cart has spec in a circle. The Nutting stencil is still on the cart. I believe this is a longer cart. I want to use my cart as a coffee table. How do I know what hardware belongs on this cart? My name is Chris Donda my cell is 773-807-1451.

  17. Marty says :

    Check on Ebay under Nutting carts or Railroad carts. There is also a company in Virginia you can find by search- Lineberry carts, he has a lot of various parts but is high on price.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 312 other followers

%d bloggers like this: