12 Great Tips For Finding Great Deals on Antiques at Flea Markets, Thrift Stores, and Yard Sales.
If you adore antiques and vintage collectibles but cringe at some of the steep price tags, it's time to take matters into your own hands and get the most bang for your budget decorating buck.
Antique pickers are eagle-eyed bargain hunters that are often buying antiques for antique dealers and retail shop owners. They scout out the flea markets, garage sales, estate sales, thrift stores, and auction houses in order to scoop up the best goodies and then mark them up for resale.
You can learn to be your own personal antique picker by using the same tricks of the pickers trade to decorate your home with superb quality antique treasures at bargain-basement prices.
Budget Decorating Tips for Buying Antiques :
- When it comes to flea markets and yard sales you have to get there early and go often. Set your alarm and be at the scene at the same time they are setting up. You will get the pick of all the newest goodies, and might be able to score a good price since the dealer won’t have to set everything out, arrange it, tag it, etc. as you're taking it off his hands.
- Find out when the donation trucks drop off at your local thrift stores. Most people think they restock in the mornings, like most stores. But in fact, thrift stores that rely on donations often have their trucks come in from pick-ups during the late afternoon and that's when you should be there, for the unloading of the big-ticket items like furniture.
- Get to know the people that run your favorite thrift store. Make sure the bulk of your donations go to them, and go regularly so they know you are a loyal customer. The smaller, locally run thrift stores will often give you special deals, hold back things they know you are looking for and the like. My favorite charity thrift store always holds back the goodies they know I will buy like vintage buttons and white bisque pottery!
- Check your local classified ads for garage sale notifications. Cut them out and organize them in a small notebook or on a piece of paper starting with the ones you want to go to first (so you are there earliest). If you aren’t sure of the locations map them out using your local area map or a online mapping service such as MapQuest.com…map from location to location so you can go straight from one to the other without any problems!
- When scooping the papers for estate auctions, don’t miss the section on storage unit auctions! Oftentimes, people rent a storage space and get behind on their payments or even pass away without their heirs knowing the storage space is there. By law, the owners of the storage unit can auction off the contents inside to pay off the past due rental fees. It may have been just boxes of the owner’s high school yearbooks or it may have been their grandmother’s antique china. There could be treasures to be had that will boost your budget decorating funds.
- Keep an eye out on the antiques & collectibles market. While true antiques may be rare in these venues (don’t set your heart on that vintage Stickley), you can find antique collectibles for very inexpensive prices.
Magazines such as Mary Engelbreit’s Home Companion are excellent sources for determining "what’s hot" in the collectibles market. For example, antique glass insulators from telephone and electric poles are selling for tens to hundreds of dollars; and I just found one at my local thrift store recently for 25 cents!
- When Budget Decorating Always Research the pieces you are interested in acquiring. Use the Internet and the library to find good data on identifying authentic pieces. Learn to decode antique marks and silver marks, to tell the difference between Bakelite and plastic, or identify first printings of first editions. Research whatever you are keeping an eye out for. After all, you want to be able to make sure your McCoy Pottery is the real McCoy!
- Plan your flea market, thrift shop and antique auction expeditions like you would a hiking trip. If you tire out quickly you may miss out on the best deals.
Consider wearing a backpack (which carries a lot more and is much less likely to be stolen). Keep sunscreen, band-aids, bug spray, and bottled water with you. Sports drinks actually have more salt in them than you need, which will make you thirsty again faster. Bottled water accompanied by a small bag of pretzels or another salty snack will keep you well hydrated. Granola bars or energy bars are also a good choice for low blood sugar and a rumbling stomach.
Remember moving from thrift shop, to auction, to yard sale, while budget decorating means you're in it for the long haul.
- Always carry a notebook and a pen, so you can keep notes of things you are interested in and where you saw them. If the dealer has a card attach it to the page with a paper clip or scan it with your cell phone camera. If it's a yard sale, take the risk, it may not be there later.
- Always carry your budget decorating cash in small bills. This will help keep you on budget, plus many outlets, particularly yard sales, only take cash or they give discounts for cash purchases.
- Never be afraid to ask for a better deal, but always ask in a way that doesn’t disrespect the seller. This goes for just about everything and everywhere. Simply asking, "Is this your best price?" or "Is there a trade/cash price?", usually does the trick. Don’t expect an enormous discount, 10-20% off what they are asking is good. If the original price is way out of your budget decorating range, from what you are willing to pay, it's always better to just let the item go.
- When Budget Decorating Be Prepared to Haul Your Goodies Right Away. Carry bags and bubble wrap in your backpack and bring or borrow a friend’s truck if you are shopping for big-ticket items. You can often negotiate another small discount if you are ready to haul away that day, particularly from overcrowded thrift stores and yard sales
Having limited funds and decorating on a budget doesn't mean you're limited to cheap, badly made, mass produced or inferior quality furniture, fittings or accessories. Embrace your budget decorating, and enjoy those thrift shop outings and the great yard sales in your local area.
And; when it comes to finding good quality antique bargains at local auctions, there's great tips and information over at the antique-marks, buying antiques section, where they cover almost everywhere you can find antiques and collectibles.
So, that's our 12 Tips for finding great antiques at flea markets, thrift stores and yard sales. Demonstrating how budget decorating doesn't mean you can't use good quality antiques to fit your wallet. Hopefully you've learned how to turn your home into a cozy and comfortable retreat with country-inspired antique decor items.
Check out Americana country decor which embodies a simple design using family heirlooms and flea-market finds and Rustic Country style decorating which is a simple laid-back design that is perfect for someone decorating on a budget.