Thrifting Tips from a Pro

We get asked all the time how we find all of our antique and vintage treasures. My mama Gail is a seasoned antique, vintage, and treasure hunter! This week we are sharing some of her most asked questions and tips for YOU to become a pro when hitting the flea markets!

Q. When is the best time of the year to hunt for vintage or antiques?

A. Depends on the region and weather. Springtime is a great season in California, everyone is cleaning out their garages and warehouses. Make sure to check your local garage sales! Craigslist is a great way to look up garage sales in your area.

Q. Do you have a strategy or game plan when you’re treasure hunting?

A. YES! Everyone think’s I’m crazy but as soon as I walk through the gates or door I grid out the entire place, and go from quadrant to quadrant, always starting from the back. It helps me to not feel overwhelmed and keeps me focused on finding what I’m after that day.

Q. Do you prefer to go super early or near the end for deals?

A. That is the big debate! Everyone has a different shopping style. We like to go super early to get the best picks, however you don’t always get the best price. Often times the vendors will give you a slight reduction at the end of the day before they have to pack it up. Keep in mind, a lot of the items sold are already below retail or market value so if you do get an item for a steal of a deal consider it a lucky day! A lot of vendors are seasoned and know what the items are worth, so if you see something you love, love, love, just buy it!

Q. Any tips when it comes to bargaining with vendors?

A. Like in anything in life, you’ll get farther with honey rather than vinegar. Always smile and greet. Keeping a straight poker face and pointing out every little thing that is wrong with an item won’t get you as far as you think. Most vendors, like anyone, would prefer and are more willing to work with you if you’re sincere and are willing to bargain fairly back.

Q. Are there ever any items you steer clear of that aren’t worth the purchase?

A. It’s all about condition. Of course with the farmhouse or rustic look you want chippy and worn areas on wood or paint. But if you’re shopping for fine antiques, the cleaner the condition, the better!

Q. What is your favorite antique or vintage piece you’ve ever purchased?

A. In our last home I took a day trip with our designer to this amazing antique warehouse up in Santa Cruz. Hidden in there were these two Asian style wicker trunks that are timeless. They have been a comfortable fit throughout the years as my design style continued to grow and change. Some pieces can work with every style!

Q. Any last advice or tips when it comes to antique shopping?

A. How you phrase your comments and your body language will reflect in the bargain you will receive. Here are some comments I hear often while antiquing or at a market and also how they could be turned around for a positive outcome!

What not to say...

“I’ve seen that somewhere cheaper.”

What you could say instead...

“Oh, I’ve seen these around and I just love them!”

What not to say...

“This one is damaged, so how much cheaper will you come down?”

What you could say instead...

“I’m loving this particular piece would you be able to do a little better on the price for me?”

What not to say...

“I can’t believe you’re charging that much.”

What you could say instead...

“Tell me about this piece, is there something that makes this a little higher in price?”

What not to say...

“I could make that at home.”

What you could say instead...

“I can see you’ve spent a lot of time making this and your craftsmanship is amazing!”

Last MUST have tips for treasure hunting:

  • Wear comfy shoes

  • Cash is king at most markets, always bring cash!

  • Bring a wagon, rolling cart, bags and definitely a big enough car to take it all home!

  • And water, there’s nothing worse than having shopping thirst!

Have fun and make sure to tag us in your antique and vintage finds, we love to see! @OwlBoxVintage


Rachel and Gail