A purple-striped couch that will remind you of your circa-1982 friend's living room. Furniture made from random animal parts and skins. Folk art of every skill level. Old, faded mirrors in which you half-expect to see someone else's creepy reflection. No, I'm not talking about Halloween curios, although some of these items would indeed induce chills. I'm talking about antiques discovered on a recent foray into Hamilton County, Indiana's many shops.

It's always enjoyable to hear stories about household items handed down from one generation to the next. Some people collect fun, mid-century things, like kidney-shaped tables and children's toys. Others opt for antique silver that must be polished tirelessly to remain in top-display condition. For some, it's the thrill of the hunt, sifting through countless bins in barns-turned antique stores that could be featured on American Pickers. Others prefer to be lost in a labyrinth of higher-end rooms containing all manner of old stuff you just want to acquire. Like the obviously well-loved Tiffany bracelet spotted recently at Midland Arts and Antiques Market, 488 Gradle Drive, in Carmel.

As luck would have it, if you're antiquing in Hamilton County, you can have either experience. The only other place I've found such a vast array of the bizarre and cool in one place has been in Florida's Goodwill stores. Goodwill, you gasp? Yes! Think about it: Elderly people move down there and when the inevitable happens, their families are faced with either moving 90-years worth of collections back to the Midwest or dumping it all at the local GW. Scores abound.

But, back to Hamilton County. People here are smart, so things are going to be priced to make a profit. But don't be afraid to haggle. For some, that's part of the fun, and most dealers expect to come down a bit. Just don't be offensive and immediately demand 40 percent off the price. Tact is a must. And also be aware that many places, such as Midland or the ever-awesome Old Picket Fence in Noblesville (894 Logan St.), are offering the wares of many dealers, so they likely have to contact that person with any offer less than the asking price.

Other tips:

• If you have cash-in-hand, you're offer will be taken more seriously. Especially on large-ticket items.

• Speaking of large, think about how you're going to get items, such as furniture, home. Many dealers aren't going to have a ready delivery service.

• In addition, it never hurts to develop a rapport with the dealer. If you have questions, ask! People in this business generally love to share their knowledge and passion.

• Don't be in a hurry. Typically things are arranged so you have to get in there and search. Don't be afraid to get a bit dusty on your quest for fun finds.

A Google search will find more, and more can be found on VisitHamiltonCounty.com, but a few Hamilton County places to check out include:
Midland Arts and Antiques Market, 488 Gradle Drive, Carmel
Carmel Old Town Antique Mall, 38 W. Main St., Carmel
Noblesville Antique Mall, 20 N. 9th St. Noblesville
R. Beauchamp Antiques, 16405 Westfield Blvd., Westfield
Old Picket Fence, 894 Logan St., Noblesville
Logan Village Mall, 977 Logan St., Noblesville