Antique shops are fun, interesting alternatives to run-of-the-mill retailers. Even if you’re just browsing, you’ll find dealers who will be more than happy to ask questions and describe the history of the items they’re displaying. If you don’t have a lot of experience doing this type of shopping, here’s some information that will help make your first antiquing excursion successful and fun.
Smaller antique shops are great because they provide an opportunity to develop relationships with dealers and their employees. The owners will probably always be there, and often share some of the same interests as you. Instead of just going in and out like a regular store, you’ll have such a good time chatting up the employees you’ll want to stay for hours.
Once you go to a place you trust, you’ll feel secure knowing your purchase is of high quality. For instance, if your dealer says that sofa you’re interested in is a true Victorian-era model, you will know he or she is telling you the truth. Unlike auctions, where what you’re buying is “as is,” reputable antique shops will have fair return policies. In many instances, they’ll even let you try out an item to make sure it is exactly what you want. This can be a big help if you’re interested in an old oak chest or an Oriental rug, but it doesn’t quite fit with the decor when you bring it home.
There are probably a lot of antique shops in your city that have their own unique personalities and specialize in certain items. One store may feature French furniture while others may carry vintage books, jewelry and collectibles. Look at each store’s website and make sure they sell something that piques your interest before paying a visit.
Most of the time, the prices you see in these types of stores aren’t set in stone; there’s a little “wiggle room” where you can negotiate. But you shouldn’t take this as an opportunity to nitpick an item and point out everything that’s wrong. That may result in a polite invitation to take your business elsewhere. Simply ask the dealer if he or she can do better on the price and you may receive a discount of about 10 percent.
Most of the stores in your area will typically hold big sales events once or twice a year, so if you’re not in a rush to get a particular item you’ll probably be better served waiting for a while. The results could be well worth it.
Don’t be afraid to go into various antique shops in your area and just browse. You’ll very likely not have to deal with any sort of “hard sell” approach and you may even wind up making a new friend or two.