I'm bringing a couple of clients to my favorite antique shops in Point Pleasant tomorrow, so I thought I would share some of my top tips for buying vintage. I'm offering them a little tour, along with lots of advice on finding the perfect piece and negotiating a good deal.
Between my days as a former antique dealer and my experience on the show, Flea Market Flip, I've learned a few things along the way...
1. Before you leave home, make a list, measure, and take pictures.
This is key, because most places don't allow you to return things once you've purchased them. So make sure you do your homework before you go. Also bring fabric samples, paint color swatches, etc. - whatever you need to make a quick decision. And you often do have to make a quick decision. If someone else is circling your piece, you have to GRAB IT and DON'T LET GO! I've had things snatched right from under my nose. Also, make sure you bring that tape measure with you!
2. Keep your eyes peeled and your mind open.
Many antique booths are stuffed to the gills, so you need to keep an eagle eye open for what you're looking for. You also have to be open to finding things you didn't even know you needed. One time I happened upon an amazing coffee table at Brimfield Flea Market (just about the best flea market in the Northeast!) for an amazing price, and I knew I had to get it. I'm so glad I did because I haven't been able to find anything like it since.
3. Beware of stinky furniture but also look beyond the surface.
A lot of old wooden pieces (like trunks and dressers) are a bit musty. Sometimes you can scrub them and they'll be as good as new, but I haven't had much luck in this area. Don't expect to put your baby's clothes in an old dresser, or nice cashmere blankets in an old trunk. On the other hand, you need to often look at the potential of a piece. Just because a desk is painted an awful shade of green, if it has good bones and lines, it could look like a million bucks with a fresh coat of paint.
4. Always ask for 10% off.
Most dealers will give you 10% off an item, unless it's marked FIRM - then the price is what is. If it's not marked firm, you should definitely ask for more than 10%, but be careful not to insult the dealer. Asking for 50% off would be an insult. I like to say "What's your best price?" and then go from there. If I can get 25% off, I'm happy. Always bring a check or cash with you. You'll usually get a better price if you don't put it on your credit card.
5. If you're not sure about something, it's okay to let fate decide.
If I find something I like, but I'm not sure if it's quite perfect, I'll sit on it and go back another time. If it's still there, then I know it was meant to be. If it's gone, then I knew it wasn't for me.
That wraps up some of my antique hunting tips. If you want more, I'm happy to help!
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.