10 Tips for the Beginner Antiquer

As I have been making my house my home, adding decor and furniture I have found that antique items are perfect for the look I am going for.  On my last adventure I was looking for antique china dinner plates to mix and match for my formal dinners. I could not decide on just one pattern, so I decided to pick 8 patterns that I thought would look nice together.  Antique shopping is fun, but it is difficult and I am by far not an expert, but I have learned a lot in the short time that I have been doing this. So I put together 10 tips for the beginner antiquer so that you are prepared for the experience and have as much fun as you can.

My eclectic mix of china plates
My eclectic mix of china plates

(1) Know exactly what you are looking for. When you walk into an antique store it becomes hard for your eyes to focus on just one thing. There is so much to look at! If I didn’t know that I wanted antique dinner plates I wouldn’t have been able to focus on anything. You cannot walk into the store looking for general decor for your home. You need to go in thinking specifically like “chandelier” or “metal wall art”, etc or it will become too overwhelming. It was easy for me to scan and spot the dinner plates in each store, because I was not letting myself get lost looking at all of the other merchandise around it.

Antique shopping tips
It is hard for the eye to focus on just one thing!

(2) Look up antique stores in your area. USAntiqueMall has a great website to look up antique stores in your area. This will give you an idea of how far you will need to drive. Some may even have phone numbers and websites that you can call ahead to see if they carry what you are looking for. I found that some stores have a theme that they stick with and only carry certain types of antiques. It was difficult for me to find antique china because it is hard to sell and they only like to sell them in sets.

(3) Plan out your route. I found that a lot of antique stores are located in close proximity to one another and are easy to walk to. So plan your trip to drive to an area with multiple stores around so you don’t waste time driving to each one individually. This saves a lot of time.

Map of antique stores
Some areas have many antique stores that are very close in proximity

(4) Set a  budget. Old does not mean cheap when it comes to antiques. Make sure you go into the store with a budget in mind, because some of the prices will blow you away! I wanted to stick in the $20 range for each of my plate sets and I stuck around that budget. A lot of the stores will give you a deal if they are trying to get rid of some stuff and make room for new stuff. A lot of the stores I went to had a set price that they could not change so I could not do much bartering.

(5) Research prices ahead of time. Look for the object you are trying to find on ebay or etsy to find the going price. Sometimes the prices are lower online, but shipping is more expensive so be aware of that. Look at the approximate age of the piece you are looking for as well because this might affect the price. You can also look up the prices after the fact and go back if you find it is a good price. 

Antique shopping tips
The price of this was 12.50 at the antique store
The price of this plate is less than the one from the store, but the shipping cost makes it cost much more
The price of this plate is less than the one from the store, but the shipping cost makes it cost much more

(6) Leave the big heavy purse behind. Just take a small wallet with the necessities such as cash, ID and credit cards. I just about knocked over a whole display area with a large purse that I brought in the first time I went antiquing. The next time I went I took a small wristlet that was easy to slip into my pocket when I wanted to tip toe around breakable objects, but still fit everything I needed to pay. Some places even make you put your bag into a locker while you shop.

(7) Wear comfortable shoes and clothes. You don’t know how far you will walk to the different stores in the area and you don’t know which ways you may need to bend to reach the antique you are eyeing.

Antique shopping tips
So many breakable things to knock over. Don’t be the bull in the china shop!

(8) Bring a snack. Antiqueing is hard work. You will be on your feet most of the day, walking, crouching, squatting, and reaching. I was so hungry after the first day. 

(9) Be patient. The exact match of what you are looking for isn’t going to come dance in your face at the first antique store you go to. Sometimes you will see something that might work, but may want to look around at other stores for better deals or something closer to what you were looking for.

(10) Have fun and enjoy the experience. If you start to get overwhelmed, just take a deep breath and just try to enjoy the unique designs of the antiques. They all have a story to tell!

Tips for antique shopping
Cute antique set ups

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