The past couple of weeks have been devoted to what I look for when scouting for vintage items. Now I'll share a few of my yard sale/flea market shopping secrets. I was one of those crazy antique dealers, selling in an antique center in Red Bank for over three years. I had to compete with the best of them so here are a few things I learned.
1. Never pay full price, but NEVER insult the seller by asking a crazily reduced price. You'll just end up putting a roadblock up. I always like to say, "What's your best price?" Then I might point out a few flaws with the piece to make the seller give a little more off than he normally would. I'll also try to collect a few things that I'm interested in to get a group price. Buy more, save more!
2. Get there early. Dealers line up at sales REALLY early so if you want to get first pick, you need to too (some estate sales give out numbers like the do at the deli). The only problem with being the early bird is that the seller might not be willing to negotiate too much. I usually don't even try to beat the other dealers and get there a bit later. I might not get first pick at everything, but I usually do pretty well with prices.
3. Inspect the item really well. Anything that's vintage will have some wear so make sure you inspect carefully. Here's where you can use the flaws to get a better price. Something that I don't look past are wobbly construction, a piece that doesn't have its original hardware, corroded metal (unless it adds character) and smelly furniture (often happens with dressers, cabinets and trunks).
4. Hit the garden, garage, attic and basement first. When I'm at a yard sale or estate sale, I find the best stuff in these spots. Yes, they're covered in dirt and dust, but you can usually get an awesome price and they are untouched. Like true relics.
5. If you like it, just buy it! Don't count on a seller holding stuff for you. If a better offer comes around, you might lose out. If you bring it home and find that it's not going to work for you, just sell it on a buy, sell, swap group. Many areas have these via Facebook.
I hope you like my tips - Happy Hunting!
I'm all about sharing ideas in home design, gardening and living so we can love our homes. I'm joined by my dog, Boomer, who is always by my side.