The # 1 question we get is “Where do you get your stuff?”. We usually look at each other and say “Um everywhere”.
The truth is, we’re always looking for that cool mid-century chesterfield leather sofa (still looking for this one) or the little Victorian side table to replace the one that got rained on and ruined. But the best finds are ones that we stumble upon. Like the bamboo and leather peacock chairs we happened upon in the last hour of Farm Chicks in 2017. Or the Cindy Tufted Sofa, this one came from Cara’s sister, Cindy. She called Cara to see what she thought of it and we swooped in and bought it right out from under her. She might never forgive us. .. its just business right? We named it after her to soften the blow.
We really do look everywhere to shop vintage. Estate Sales, Craigslist, Auctions, Antique shops, Antique dealers, Facebook, Instagram. There is cool vintage stuff everywhere if you just start shopping. Below are some of our top tips for how to score the perfect vintage items at the best price.
1. Shop the Vintage Shows
These shows are how we got our start selling vintage and handmade goods. Farm Chicks, The Great Junk Hunt, and Anacortes Vintage Market to name a few. Grab some friends and head to the sip and shop on Friday night. This is a fun time and when you get pick of the best stuff. We found the Dylan Rusted cake plates made from old motorcycle parts at one of these shows. Seriously, how awesome are they?! Expect to pay an entrance fee for these shows, usually more on Friday nights since they often include drinks and snacks. There isn’t much dealing going on early in the show so expect to pay what the price tag says. Keep in mind that its hard work to curate that stuff, clean it up, haul it to a show, and set it up in a booth so it catches your eye. So usually the price on the ticket is worth it. If you’re looking for a better price on something you really want then go back in the last couple hours of the show. Vendors are much more likely to make you a deal so they don’t have to take something home.
2. Estate Sales
Do you ever drive around your hood and see those signs, Estate Sale this way? Follow that sign to shop vintage. Then ask the organizer how they advertise their sales. Usually you can start following them on FB to get dates, locations, and pictures of the next sale coming up. Or checkout EstateSale.net, this list sales all over the country. You can search by zip code and see any sales coming up in your area with pictures. You’ll know you have stumbled on a good sale when there is a line out the door the first few hours of the sale. I usually wait until Sunday to hit up these sales, most of the time everything will be half off so you can score the best deals.
3. Auction Houses
This is one of my favorite spots to hit up and where we find some really good deals on vintage items. Unfortunately they are closing down all over the place so if you have one near you make sure to go often and support what they do. The people that go every week are the best characters! Don’t be nervous about the auction process. You’ll want to go early to check out what is up for auction that night, you’ll have a chance to look through the items, usually touch and feel. Make a list of the items you want to bid on and the top price your willing to pay. Make sure to sign up and get your number and then just sit back and watch how the operation goes. Each auction house does it a little differently and at different paces. Once your ready to jump in and bid try to stay below the price you already set for that item. Its really easy to get swept away in the competitive environment and pay more than you wanted (I am speaking from experience!)
4. Follow dealers on Instagram
One of our favorite dealers is MidCenturyTeak. Tova has a small online shop and advertises her newest items on Instagram. Love her! We also love DK Renewal for textiles. We’ve made friends with many dealers and they will often send us stuff they think we might like so we get first dibs. Start searching out vintage dealers whose style you dig on Instagram and engage. #shopvintage
5. Small town antique shops
You know the ones. The dusty and cramped shops that have been there forever, the floor is not at all level and you wonder how they have ever operated for so long? There is gold in those booths when you want to shop vintage! I will be honest, I did not like these places for so long. Going into them made me go a little crazy and I could never find anything. Cara showed me the way and now they are my second favorite place to shop after Auctions. You can find amazing deals in these places and some really funky stuff. Like our lime green vinyl tufted bar! Some are owned by one person, others are a bunch of consignment booths furnished by individuals. They come in all shapes and sizes. Dive in and start looking. Don’t be afraid to ask “what’s your best price?” the longer something has been there the lower they will go.
6. Curated Antique shops
These are the curated shops that take a booth from a show or an online Instagram shop and put it into brick and mortar. You walk in and its totally your style. Everything is clean and perfectly merchandised. Again Thrift in Mount Vernon, WA is one of our favorites. You get items from many different genres and styles but the shop owner has a knack for making it all work together. You hear “I want to live here” from shoppers. These are so fun to shop vintage and I love supporting our local business owners. Go ahead and ask for their best price, if something has been sitting in their shop for a long time they will want to move it to make room for new merchandize. The longer its been sitting the lower the price will be.
7. Goodwill, Salvation Army, and Value Village
Most of the time I walk out of these joints empty-handed, but every once in a while there is a gem! So it is worth taking a regular walk-through. For instance, many of our brass candlesticks and vessels were found in these places. Pay special attention to the colored tag sale days. All 3 of these joints will have special deals on certain colors depending on the day of the week. Totally worth it and the way to get the best deal.
8. Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist
We’re pretty careful with these ones because we don’t want to put ourselves in a bad position. However, I personally sell a lot on Facebook Marketplace because it is so darn easy and I find a lot of great stuff too. Facebook is great because you can cyber stalk the seller a bit before agreeing to meet up. We usually meet in a public place and not at someone’s home. Craigslist transactions are always in a public space.
9. Get to know your dealers.
It’s okay to talk to them, in fact they love vintage stuff and usually love talking about it. Tell them how much you love their style and tell them what you are looking for. A dealer rarely has everything on display, if you strike up a conversation with them and tell them what you are looking for they might just have it stashed somewhere. Or know someone who does. Also get to know the story behind the piece. I am a sucker for the story and it helps me guage how much to offer for something. Did they have to dig through a gross barn and then spend weeks restoring this table? Or did they find it on the side of the road and brought it to the sale?
Special Thanks to:
Again Thrift in Mount Vernon, WA for hosting us during our photo shoot. What a beautiful backdrop of vintage items to shop while we posed! Not awkward at all.
Sara Welch Photography, not only are the pictures so beautiful, she made it so fun and effortless.