What You Need To Know: Furniture Shopping At Antique Stores

What You Need To Know: Furniture Shopping At Antique Stores

Sarah Rae Smith
Jun 20, 2011

If you've been following along through the weeks, we've talked extensively about how to shop for furniture at several places other than your traditional retail stores. First there were auctions and then estate sales. Now I'd like to address the fine art of finding just the right piece at antique stores. There's an art and you'll have to get a little crafty. Are you ready for the challenge?

1. There Are Different Types of Antique Stores: Although this probably comes as no surprise, there are all different types of antique stores. There are some that deal exclusively in one item or another and some can just feel like a giant pile of junk, usually complete with one small animal that has been subjected to a taxidermy afterlife. Knowing what type of store your in is key to your success at not only finding what you want but being able to bargain.

2. Most Dealers Aren't On Site: For the most part, antique stores are comprised of individual booths that folks rent out and turn around and sell goods in. Some might sell everything on consignment, but those are more likely to be a little more high end than your typical dive. If you're looking for a bargain, get a feel for the store and find out when specific dealers are on site rearranging and straightening things up. They'll be more willing to wheel and deal if they know how much you'll truly love something.

3. Be There After Lunch: In most off-beat furniture finding adventures we'll always tell you to be there early, or better yet, really early. When it comes to antique stores, most vendors are spending their morning at auctions and estate sales. More often than not, they'll grab some lunch and head to their store to start displaying new finds. Although this isn't always the case, it's true more often than not. So don't worry about taking a full day off work to go treasure hunting, just take a half day instead and head to your favorite place to bring home a find.

4. Barter Barter Barter: Even if it doesn't seem like a "nice" thing to do, the truth of the matter is most folks who sell items at antique stores are addicts. When it comes right down to it, they're just looking to sell things so they can buy more and continue their own hunt for treasure (even if they're re-selling it to you). Just because the price tag seems a little high, it doesn't mean you have to pay it. Instead, get the vendor number and have them call to see if they'll wager with you! Cut the price in half and go up from there, if they want to sell it, they'll make a deal!

5. Best Deals On Wednesday: For those vendors who spend their weekends hitting up auctions, estate sales and garage sales, the last date to move out merchandise before moving in the new is Wednesday. It's a magical day where even the hardest seller will cave and bend the rules for you just a little. This is also a great day to find percentage off sales at many booths for the same reason!

6. When In Doubt Put It On Hold: Often times on larger ticket items (which furniture usually is), stores are more than willing to hold an item while you check on things. It might be an afternoon, a day, or even a full week, but if you're willing to pay $400 for that Eames chair replica, they're willing to wait. Just ask!

Do you have any more tips or tricks to add to the game of finding furniture at antique stores? Share your words of wisdom in the comments below!

Image: Flickr members Devil.Bunny, Chas Redmond, dumbonyc licensed for use by Creative Commons

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