Updated: Oct 18, 2019
Nothing adds character to home like a few good vintage pieces. Deciphering the trash from the treasure, however, is always bit more challenging than what the perfectly curated photos we see in the magazines let on.
When designing each space, a good rule of thumb is to aim for at least one vintage piece per room. Now, this is not always possible, but incorporating a quirky or unique accessory should be. You want something a bit quirky or unique to pique interest, to help tell a story.
Ideally, your home should look collected over time, not that you’ve just purchased an entire floor set as shown in the latest season’s catalogue. By going vintage, you can easily achieve a collected look. And don’t forget, these pieces will be a memory for you when you look at it too. Something much more special than an item that you purchased at a big box store. That’s the fun with shopping for antiques. I like to think about the stories each item has. How the people before me experienced them.
Fortunately, with the rise of more quality online antique shops like Chairish and 1st Dibs, bespoke vintages homes are becoming even easier to achieve, but sometimes the best scores come from the real life hunt. If you're ready to tackle the flea markets and antique shops, our tips will have securing one of a kind treasures in no time.
1. Do Your Research Beforehand
Don’t be afraid to haggle, but also know when you’re getting a good deal. Antique and flea market dealers have their small businesses to think about. Aim to start your discount negotiation between 15-20%, if you land at 10% you’ve got yourself a good deal. And if you’ve done your research, you’ll have a good idea of what it is worth. If something is already priced as a steal, don’t look the gift horse in the mouth. Get your bargain and run!
2. Cash is King
Bring cash and different denominations. ATM fees can really chip into your budget, and vendors will be more likely to give you a deal if they know they’re not going to incur pesky credit card fees, if credit cards are even an option at all.
3. Know your timing and plan accordingly
Depending on the venue, whether a fair, flea market or trade show, vendors will be willing to make deals given the time of day. Get there early so you can see all the best items. Just know, at the beginning of the day vendors will be less likely to make a deal. Likewise, shopping at the end of the day means there’s less to choose from, but vendors will be more keen to make a deal than pack the items up and take them with them.
With all this being said, vintage shopping is fun but tiring. Getting a map and marking the places you’ll like to see and the places you’ve made purchases so you can return later to retrieve your items, is crucial. Be sure to wear comfy shoes and clothes and have a hardy breakfast. Don’t forget a drink bottle as well.
If you can get your hands on a wagon or collapsible trolley with wheels, you’ll be thanking your lucky stars to have the companion. Even if you’re travelling from out of town, you can often rent a trolly, and it’s totally worth saving your back for the few extra bucks of rental fees. Be extra prepared by bringing along some newspaper and bubble wrap.
4. Think Twice Before Skipping the Shipping
Speaking of out of town shopping. I’m heading to San Francisco for a dear friend’s wedding and then on to Capri, Florence and Rome with the hubby to celebrate our wedding anniversary. You best believe I’ll be doing some vintage shopping when I’m in these fabulous cities all known for their epic antiques. And I definitely won’t be schlepping all my treasures back with me in a suitcase. These are one of a kind pieces, y’all. You’re likely already getting a good deal, so pay for the shipping and the peace of mind. Your home will thank you.
Like any good hunt, timing is crucial. If you love a piece, jump on it. If it feels like you’ve gotta have it, there’s a really good chance someone else will have that same feeling. Hey, it’s the quick and the dead out there people! Which takes me to the last point: don’t haggle for something if you're not serious about taking it. You don’t want to waste the vendor’s time. Especially if you do end up finding something you want desperately, they’re likely not to take your negotiation seriously when it really counts.
Sourcing unique antique finds like artwork and rugs is central to our sustainability mission and what we love sourcing best. If you need help putting the final bespoke vintage touch on your home, get in touch!