Today I have something fun planned – I’m going to share all about antiquing for beginners! I have wanted to write this post for some time now, especially since my love for shopping antique stores has grown so much over the past few years.
It’s funny – my Mom actually loves to antique, too. In fact her entire home is decorated like the 17th century! I kid you not…you walk into her home and you feel like you’re on the set of a Pilgrim movie. It’s incredible, and if you follow me on Instagram you may have seen pictures of her home that I shared in my stories last Christmas.
ANYway, she used to drag my siblings and I to antique stores when we were little and I HATED it!! Can you believe that?! I mean, there were no toys and the stores we visited usually smelled kinda funny. How ironic is it that antiquing is now one of my favorite things to do!
Now I’ll be honest, I used to like thrift stores so much more than antique stores. I never wanted to antique because I always felt like everything was so overpriced.
BUT I have learned so much about antiquing over the past few years that my plan is to convince you that YOU should try it, too!
Why Shop at Antique Stores?
- You can find pieces that NO ONE else on earth has.
I mean how cool is that? Don’t get me wrong, I love finding beautiful decor at Target just as much as the next person. But sometimes it’s neat to have something in your home that is unique. Something that is different from everyone else. Something that not every “farmhouse” style home has nailed to their wall.
- Antiques bring depth and warmth to a space.
This past summer, my sister Jessica refinished her entire home. All new floors, paint, new master suite, new trim work, fixtures…the list goes on. They are still working on the kitchen and bathroom, and I can’t wait to see it all done!!
Anyway after finishing some of the rooms she asked me to go shopping with her for new decor. We had SO much fun and man we found a lot of beautiful stuff! But after looking at everything we had in the car, I remember telling my sister that everything was too new!
We needed some “old” stuff. HA! She reminded me that she was going for a more modern feel, but I convinced her to try out a few antique stores just to see what we could find.
Jess ended up finding the most amazing set of green oars and some beautifully worn wooden crates!! Even though her style is modern/boho lodge, I cannot tell you how GORGEOUS those items are in her home now. The chippy finish on the oars, the warm patina on the crates…both pieces add so much more character and dimension than ANYthing brand new would have added.
- Antiques tell a story
When I buy an antique, I can’t help but wonder – who held this? Who used this? If only this ________ could talk…the stories it would tell.
Like I said, I have nothing against Target or Hobby Lobby or any other home decor store for that matter. I love those stores and I have found so many beautiful home decor pieces over the years that were brand new. But there’s nothing like having an antique in your home that has meaning and history.
So what are my tips and trick for getting the best deals at antique shops? I’m glad you asked!
Antiquing For Beginners – Always Offer Less
Whenever I find a treasure while antique shopping, I always, always offer less. I know sometimes it can feel awkward to ask, but what’s the worst that could happen? All they can do is say no.
Here’s a tip though – go to the store clerk with a number in mind. If you say something like “can you go any less?” I can almost guarantee that the store manager will only take 10% off. At least that has always been my experience! And hey, 10% is better than nothing.
But if you have a number in mind, many times the clerk will call the booth owner and tell them your offer, and more often than not they will either counter or accept!
Antiquing For Beginners – Find the Affordable Booths
There are 3-4 antique stores that I visit it regularly now, and I know exactly which booths to avoid and which booths to take my time in and really dig.
It’s pretty simple, if I walk into a booth and pick up a few items that seem way overpriced, I just don’t waste my time there. Move on to the next one. Yes, I might glance around and see if anything catches my eye. Sometimes I’ll even just look for inspiration. But if every single item is just way out of my price range, I’d rather go digging in some of the booths that I know will have great deals.
Antiquing For Beginners – Have Specific Items in Mind
I think that antiquing for beginners is very overwhelming because they have no idea what to even look for. Whenever I antique, I try to go in with specific items in mind. Maybe I’m looking for more copper or wooden kitchen utensils or old books…whatever it is, keep that mental list so that you can scan booths easily without feeling completely overwhelmed.
Antiquing For Beginners – Research Items You are Drawn To
I have two sets of dishes that I love to collect, and the first time I found pieces to those sets I went online and did some research. I found out what they were worth, when they were made, and what all came in each set. I’m so glad that I did! Now I know what markings to look for, what prices are fair and how much I’m willing to pay.
Antiquing For Beginners – Don’t Be Afraid to Dig
If you find a good booth and the prices seem really good, get in there and dig around. Pick things up, bend down, get on your knees if you have to! Ha!!
Listen, I LOVE a beautifully cohesive, clean and organized antique booth. But in my experience, booths like that are few and far between. Don’t be afraid to dig around a bit!
Antiquing For Beginners – Look Beyond an Item’s Purpose
Let’s go back to my sister’s amazing antique oars. She ended up hanging them and now they are the most beautiful, rustic wall art in her dining room!
Think outside the box. I used an old minnow bucket on my coffee table this past summer and filled it with flowers. If you feel drawn to something but you aren’t quite sure how to use it, ask yourself these questions –
Could I hang this on the wall and use it as art?
Could I start collecting more of these for a beautiful display in my home?
Could I use this to hold flowers or greenery?
Could I store something in this?
There are probably so many more questions you could ask, but you get the idea.
Antiquing For Beginners – Go with an Experienced Antique Shopper
If at all possible, bring someone with you who’s familiar with antiques and knows a thing or two about the stores you’ll be visiting. It can be intimidating to haggle or dig through booths if your’e a beginner.
I’m so thankful I had my Mom with me those first few times, explaining what things were, how they were used, and teaching me what to look out for. In fact many times she even made offers for me, I just watched to see how it was done! You’ll learn so much if you take a seasoned antique shopper with you.
Antiquing For Beginners – Ask Questions
If I don’t know what something is or what is was used for, oftentimes I ask!
“Where did this come from? Any idea how old it is?”
If you take something home that you love, wouldn’t it be awesome to know the story behind it? This past summer I purchased a really neat crate that had chippy blue paint and a turned handle. When I was checking out I asked about it, and turns out it was used at an old greenhouse not too far my house!
My Last Tip – Have Patience
This past weekend I went antiquing with my husband and I didn’t find a single thing. Not one thing! I was a little bummed, but I still had so much fun. Sometimes I score amazing finds, sometimes I don’t find anything at all. Have patience! It will be so worth it when you find that one of kind treasure.
Do you love to antique as much as I do? Let me know in the comments below!