Call him what you want: a thrifter, scavenger, treasure hunter or a mini-miracle worker. When it comes to finding that absolutely perfect, one-of-a-kind item, Baz Burchell always delivers. With a client base that ranges from occasional thrifters to A-list celebrities, he has built a solid name for himself as a reputable go-to in the sometimes overwhelming world of treasure hunting. Get to know Baz and his fascinating profession, and check out his Krrb corner and see what awesome finds he’s willing to part with (no Statue of Liberty head this time. Sorry)!
Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from and where do you currently live?
I’m originally from the South-West of England and lived in London for many years. I moved to LA in the early 90’s and currently I’m living in Los Feliz near Griffith Park.
What is the best thing about living in your neighborhood?
Well I love living near the park and being surrounded by all the huge trees and trails and nature. It’s a short 5-10 minute drive from my home to where I store all my pieces through a lovely old shaded area with some great historic houses. I also like living near Franklin Village with all its little stores and restaurants. It feels like a “real” neighborhood which is sometimes hard to find in LA.
Where do you store all of your stuff?
I’m pretty low key and under the radar. For now I just have a couple of storage units in Los Feliz. It’s low-cost and easy access for my clients. Down the line I’d like to maybe expand into a small warehouse space where I can spread out a little more but for right now it works for me.
What are your top places you go locally to discover hidden treasures?
Ha. Well I can’t give away all my secrets. But I source items from all the usual places; flea markets, estate sales, auctions, online, and other dealers. And then there are the secret places which I don’t tell anyone about. But actually the real excitement comes when you just stumble onto something really great—and that can happen anywhere. The trick is that you have to be looking…all the time. The best places are the dirty dusty warehouses where you just never know what you’ll come across.
Are you a hoarder or a minimalist?
At home I’m actually quite a minimalist. My own personal style is kind of deconstructed. Less is more. I like a mixture of industrial pieces mixed with classic items and maybe an old 1920’s leather dresser with great patina. These days I also appreciate beautiful vintage rugs and good lighting is always important.
Platform 9 is a cool name for a shop. Is there a story behind it?
The name Platform 9 came from an old railway station sign that I found. It’s a classic porcelain sign with the iconic Gill Sans type face and it just reminded me of waiting for trains in England when I was younger. I was thinking about what to call my business and Platform 9 just seemed to fit. In the last couple of years I’ve collected several other matching signs so now I have Platform 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 9. Just looking for 6,7 and 8 and then I can stop.
As a buyer, what’s the most bizarre item you’ve ever found for a client?
Hmmmm. I’ve bought and sold a lot of pretty unique pieces over the last few years. There was the original Statue of Liberty from the 1968 film of Planet of the Apes–that was pretty amazing. I sold a 16ft tall statue of Poseidon and a life size Col. Sanders to the graffiti artist Mr. Brainwash for one of his art shows. Full size Budweiser horses, 25ft wide Hollywood signs, Ronald McDonald statues, there have really been so many crazy things.
What blogs or websites do you visit regularly?
There’s not a huge amount of websites that I use all the time. Craigslist, Apartment Therapy/Krrb and Etsy are probably the main ones. Instagram is becoming more and more important too. I also use 1st Dibs as a really useful research tool but boy are those prices sky high. I’m not sure how many people are actually buying off the site. The problem I find these days is that there are now so many different sites looking to try to attract the vintage buyers and sellers so the market is getting very fragmented.
What I love so much about Krrb is that it’s super quick and easy to list each piece, there is no spam or fraud and your listings cannot be flagged and deleted by users for any reason whatsoever. Yes—I’m looking at you Craigslist. I also really like the way that at Krrb you can communicate with real living breathing members of staff who are super responsive and happy to help. That’s a huge plus in my book.
You started off working in the entertainment industry. If you could redesign the set of any TV show or movie, what would it be?
Wow. I’ve never really thought about that. I don’t really consider myself as a “designer” as such. I’m much more of a strange hybrid buyer/seller/treasure hunter and I tend to work with a lot of set decorators and designers. What I try to do is to uncover unique signature pieces for other people and then I leave it up to them to bring the entire picture together.
How do you think your background in entertainment affects your selection process?
I don’t really think it does to be honest. I just think that I’ve got a pretty good eye and I always try to trust my intuition. I figure that if I really like something – there will be someone else who does too and so far (knock on wood) it’s worked out quite well. Two of my golden rules are trust your gut and try to only buy what you love.
Name your top 3 dream items you’d love to stumble upon.
Ha. Well currently of course everyone is looking for the super rare mid-century pieces because the market for that is so high right now. And there was a time where I literally stumbled onto a set of 15 Woodard Sculptura chairs which was pretty great. I don’t know. It would be nice to find some Warren Platner pieces or maybe an authentic Arne Jacobsen Egg chair to go with my treasured Swan chair. Then again an original Banksy would be nice too ; )
What’s your all-time favorite find?
There are several pieces that I’ve found really hard to part with. One is a fantastic industrial French factory table with stools that I got from a guy who was moving back to Paris. There have been a lot of people who wanted that table but I had to keep it for myself. Another piece is an incredible art deco metal armoire that made my heat beat pretty fast when I saw it. I think it was from a jewelry store originally and I’ve never seen another one like it.
From where do you draw inspiration?
That’s a good question. I think I have a couple of different sides to me. I definitely draw inspiration from Europe. The furniture and architecture from London and Brussels and Prague etc. I love rust and items with their own patina. But I also have this other American pop culture side to me. I love circus and carnival items and oversized items and neon signs and things that light up and flash (laughs). I’m a Gemini so there are definitely several different sides to my brain.
What’s the most rewarding thing about owning your own business?
I think one of the most rewarding things is being able to successfully source something specific for a client when they’ve been looking for it forever. A lot of the time it’s a question of connecting the dots. Firstly translating what someone is describing to you and then knowing where to go to try to find it. And at this point I’ve got a fairly good network of contacts to draw upon. Another nice aspect is I get to meet such a wide range of people from all walks of life PLUS I get to own a lot of stuff for a short period of time.
What’s the most challenging?
The most challenging part is when the phone doesn’t ring for a few days and you start to think that you’ll never sell anything else ever again. You just have to remain positive and remember to stay focused.
One more thing, have you ever worked with any famous clients?
Absolutely yes–there have been quite a few over the last few years but I can’t really name names. Actors, actresses, photographers and pop stars. One of my clients (who now just happens to be one of the worlds biggest pop stars) bought an amazing old round table top with a picture of the Beatles on it. It had been left out in the rain for years and had this incredible chippy flakey paint all over it. She could see the beauty in this really old distressed tabletop and she put it up on a wall in her home and it looked insanely great.
I also located an antique magic box. The kind where you cut the girl in half. It was for a very famous actress who wanted it as a birthday present for her boyfriend. Right now I’m trying to sell a 16ft Pink Dinosaur for another famous musician who decided to paint it bright pink!! So never a dull moment.