Tuesday, June 28, 2011

top 10 :: tips for antique shopping

This past Sunday, I visited a traveling antique fair at the Locust Grove. It.was.fabulous. There were probably 50 or so dealers with booths set up. They had everything from vintage jewelry to gorgeous pieces of antique furniture. Antique shopping is like treasure hunting to me... I love perusing the old items and wondering what this or that was used for... who might have owned the item before... what can I do with the item now? If you are thinking about doing any antique shopping soon, here are a few helpful tips to get you started...

1) Have a list in mind. Know what you're looking for. This past weekend I went looking for wooden letter blocks... and I found them. If you have a few items in mind, your antique shopping isn't nearly as overwhelming.

2) Think outside the box. Look at items in a different light. Typically, items at an antique fair aren't going to be used the exact same way that they were years and years ago. For example, I love how Ali Edwards turned these vintage matchbook holders into a collection on her kitchen wall.

3) Don't pay full price. Most dealers are willing to negotiate a little. The cash drawer I bought this weekend was priced at $35... and the dealer instantly told me he would be willing to go down to $25... but then I asked if he would be willing to take $20... and he accepted.

4) Know your brands. There are several things to look for when antique shopping... but if you do your homework it can earn you a profit down the road. Certain brands and labels can be worth a pretty penny to the right collector.

5) Bring cash. I brought cash with me this weekend for 2 reasons... 1) so I wouldn't be tempted to spend more than I budgeted and 2) because at a fair-type setting many of the vendors will only take cash or check. But more important than both of those reasons... cash can help you better accomplish #3. I was able to go down to $20 on the cash drawer because I only had a twenty dollar bill left in my pocket... sneaky.

6) Know how you're going to use your purchase. Don't buys something just because it's a good deal... know how you're going to use your purchase when you get home. It should have a purpose and a designated spot in your house. For example, my cash drawer will be used to either hold jewelry/pins in my closet, or possibly used as a catch-all near my front door.

7) Ask questions. Learn about the history of items. It always makes a piece more interesting if you know where it came from and it's original purpose. For example, I have 2 stools (above photo) that I bought from a flea market in Clarkesville, GA... they are worn, faded, and have inappropriate graffiti written on the legs... but I love them because they were the actual stools that employees sat on while working at the Old Clarkesville Mill back in the day. A piece is always more special if you know where it's been and what it's been through.

8) Touch and inspect your potential purchase. This one is actually a bit of admonishing for myself. When I purchased the set of wooden letter blocks, there were 2 sets for me to choose from. One set was really old... truly vintage... and $20. This was the set I originally wanted. So, I asked the dealer if I could take the blocks out of the bag to make sure all of the letters were there... I inspected each one... discovered the set was missing an "O" and an "S." But here's where I went wrong... I bought the other set. They were only $8... and I was on a budget. And you see, I didn't inspect the other set... I just bought them. And now that I have them home, I see that I'm missing quite a few letters... oh well... that's what going the cheap route will get you.

9) Look for collections. It's always fun to have a collection in mind when antique shopping. I have a friend that collects elephant figurines, and if I see anything elephant I snatch it up for her. Fun things to collect at antique fairs are vintage fine china, tea towels, old postcards, dice, marbles, vintage broaches... the list could go on and on. Starting a small collection gives you something to always be on the lookout for.

10) Enjoy your new purchase. Once you bring your "new" treasures home, put them to good use and enjoy them! I love seeing how Teresa displays some of her own finds in her home, check out her post here.

That's my Top 10 for this week. Linking this post up to Oh Amanda and It's a Crafty Life.


Falling From Trees said...

Great purchases. I want to flea market hop with you.

Melissa Jo said...

These are such great tips, Im definitely going to have to use them the next time I head out antique shopping!

oh amanda {impress your kids} said...

Awesome! I need to go antiquing. How do you find out about good antique places?

Thanks for linking up!

Flossie said...

Okay...so now I'm interested in how you're going to use the abc blocks.

Wandering On Purpose said...

Great ideas - I want to start going to antique stores, but I have been intimidated b/c I don't know what I'm doing. :)

Chicago Cuisine Critique said...

Great tips! I actually went antique shopping this weekend. It was a lot of fun. :)

The Rigoloso's said...

That cash drawer is an amazing find. And I want to flea market hop with you and Rachel. Let's do it.

Betsy (Eco-novice) said...

I am an avid thrift shopper (well, not so much now that I have 2 kids), but I've never tried antiques. Sounds so fun! Thanks for the tips.

Anonymous said...

Awesome post!! I love all your tips - they sound really helpful. That cash drawer is super sweet! And I collect camels, so...keep me in mind. ;) kidding. But if I ever take a trip to Louisville, I'm looking you up so we can go shopping. :)

Anonymous said...

Great tips, I've never been antiquing but there are quite a few stores around me, I'll have to check them out. I have to admit, thinking outside of the box is so hard for me! I just don't have that brain process, lol! :-) Thanks for linking up!

Em and Lib said...

I hadn't thought to look for blocks, but could certainly use them in my seasonal mantle displays...
Great tips!

Jacque said...

I found you on "It's a Crazy Life", and would like to say these are wonderful tips. I would like it if you would share them on my new linky party on Sunday. I am looking for crafters that have made vintage crafts, sewing projects, recipes that have been passed down, tips, etc.

Thanks, Jacque

Jacque's Soda Parlor

Brenda Little said...

I really agree with having a list. Without one, I wander aimlessly and achieve little.