Expert Tips for Vintage and Antique Shopping

Antique furniture and decor items add character, charm, and soul to any room, yet finding them may prove challenging in vintage markets and shops.

At our expert advice services, we have several expert tips to assist in discovering that hidden treasure!

1. Know What You Want

When shopping for vintage or antique furniture and decor, it is crucial that you understand exactly what you’re searching for. While it can be easy to be lured in by shiny objects, having a plan allows you to maximize the time you have available at antique markets and shops.

Remodelista contributing editor Justine Hand recommends creating a list of items you want before beginning to search, in order to stay focused and understand what fits within your budget. In addition, having some knowledge of antique values may also help avoid overpaying for any particular piece.

If you are uncertain of the value of an item, ask the seller for more details or research it yourself before making your decision. Also keep in mind that age might not be as significant as condition when considering an acquisition; be wary of any wear and tear which might decrease its worth drastically.

2. Get There Early

If you’re serious about antique shopping, making an early start of it can often result in you finding items faster. This is particularly relevant at estate sales or house clearance sales where items tend to sell quickly; flea markets and large shows where items tend to disappear more quickly also play into this strategy.

Bethea suggests making time to visit thrift stores, Salvos Stores, and auction houses regularly in search of unique finds. Doing this will allow you to familiarize yourself with their inventory while forging relationships with both those selling pieces as well as those you buy them from.

As well as visiting traditional dealers, vintage furniture can also be easily found online using curated sites like 1st Dibs and Elsie Green or browsing specific designer profiles on social media like Instagram. Familiarize yourself with pricing at both physical and online locations so you can quickly recognize when a good deal presents itself, while looking out for quality craftsmanship as you shop.

3. Know Your Limits

Antique and vintage pieces add an iconic charm to any home decor, but finding authentic items may prove challenging in an often overwhelming marketplace.

Experts advise conducting thorough research before purchasing any item to ensure its authenticity. This might involve studying photos from multiple angles of an antique, looking up any identifying marks on it and noting any cracks, chips or damage on its surface. Furthermore, learning what design era or price point typically sells for can help protect you against overpaying for replica or counterfeit pieces.

Consider that when purchasing antiques, you are dealing with pre-owned items which may lose value over time. When browsing either online or in person, look for sellers who provide detailed information and photos about any damage or wear to their items; in addition, steer clear of sellers asking for payment through unsecure methods or who have consistent negative feedback from past buyers.

4. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

Antiquing can be an exciting way to add character and history to your home, yet can also be daunting and intimidating when shopping at large antique malls where dealers may be hard to come by or prices can be high.

As part of any business transaction, it is crucial that questions be asked and that negotiations occur. Many dealers may offer reduced prices if they believe you have genuine interest in buying the piece in question; just remember it’s still their business and they need to make profit!

Avoid unnecessary expenditure when searching antiques by shopping regularly at one location. Doing this allows you to form relationships with vendors and staff members who may let you know when new inventory or sales are available or may provide special pricing as a returning customer. Don’t forget to sign up for their email list too – many antique malls send emails out featuring storewide sales events!

5. Hone Your Haggling Skills

Shopping antiques and vintage can be tricky when it comes to price negotiations, so being informed can go a long way in helping negotiate for what you love. Knowing what similar items have sold for online or at local vintage and antique shops will enable you to determine whether a vendor is asking too much or too little.

Once you know exactly what it is you want and understand its value, approaching a seller politely but with confidence may help. A blank face or hesitation when discussing prices may make the vendor discount it by giving the impression you are less interested or eager.

If you’re serious about vintage and antique shopping, it can be worthwhile to make regular visits to several vendors who pique your interest – this will allow you to gain a good sense of their inventory, pricing, staff members and vendors as well as build a relationship.

6. Do Your Research

Researching vintage and antique purchases is essential when shopping. From furniture to artwork or home decor pieces, knowing exactly what you’re after and its cost will help protect you against being taken advantage of by sellers who may lack extensive product knowledge (you can use the extra money in online poker on websites reviewed on

Education will give you the edge when negotiating prices. Knowing exactly what it is you want and its historical context gives you an advantage over less knowledgeable shoppers.

One way to gain an edge when it comes to pricing is by shopping at various stores and flea markets, taking notes about what items you find and their sales/pricing. Doing this will give you insight into different styles, materials, eras and types of antiques while creating relationships with vendors who could lead to better pricing or accessing rarer pieces than elsewhere.

7. Be Flexible

Vintage and antique items are truly one-of-a-kind pieces, so if you find something you love don’t be afraid to grab it right away! However, remember it’s also wise to remain open-minded as something more suitable could arise later on.

Antiques can be an affordable source of decor that adds character and history to your space, so getting up early and waiting in line at estate sales and house clearance sales are great opportunities to find bargains at a fraction of retail cost. Additionally, thrift stores, garage sales and rummage sales offer wonderful opportunities for unique finds to add character.

Also, online antique marketplaces like eBay, Facebook Marketplace and Etsy provide easy access to an abundance of antiquing options from your own home. So whether you are an experienced collector or new to antiquing, use these expert tips for making your next antiquing trip a success! Happy hunting!

8. Be Open to Unexpected Finds

Antique shopping can be immensely satisfying when it comes to discovering one-of-a-kind furniture or decor items, but keep in mind that you might not immediately come across what you want if your desired piece is high-end or in high demand.

Bethea suggests being prepared for an enjoyable shopping trip by wearing comfortable shoes, packing an umbrella in case it rains, bringing water and snacks, cash to pay dealers, as well as measuring tape. In addition, Bethea encourages shoppers to explore non-traditional sources for vintage and antique pieces such as Salvos Stores, Vinnies, eBay Marketplace, Facebook Marketplace or local weekend markets for new finds.

Another way to find pieces tailored to your taste is visiting antique shops that specialize in your genre. By doing so, you’ll gain familiarity with inventory and prices as well as build relationships with dealers and sellers who may notify you when new inventory or discounted items become available; and also help train your eye for quality by looking out for marks such as hand-painted symbols on ceramics that tell when a piece was produced; uneven stitching on textiles indicates they were handcrafted instead of manufactured machines; etc.