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A Guide to Vintage Shopping for Your Home (Part 1)

by Guest Blogger on January 17, 2014

Today’s post is by Kelly Raffaele of Vintage Modernista. We are so excited to bring Kelly on in a two-part series on how to shop for vintage pieces for your home. Thanks for sharing your expertise, Kelly!

vintage, shopping, william morris quote

As a child, my mother dragged me to every antique market, vintage shop and estate sale within a 30 mile radius. So when I left for college, you can imagine that I wanted nothing to do with “old stuff.” At the time, that’s all it was to me: old.

It wasn’t until I moved into my first adult apartment that those familiar places started calling me back. Having nothing more than a bed, a couch and a few kitchen items, I wanted to start creating my home. Sure, I could have gone to the store with the red bullseye, but what fun is that? I wanted pieces in my home that told a story, had character and would start conversations.

With a little patience, research and persistence, it is possible to create a home that reflects who you and your family are without breaking the bank! If you want to incorporate vintage collectibles and other “old stuff” into your home, here are some ideas to get you started.

vintage urn vase

Vintage Shopping: Getting Started

First things first: start locating your local consignment shops, antique stores & markets and thrift shops. I’ll go into more detail about each below, but the best way to do this is to go to Google Maps, type in “consignment” “antique” and “thrift”. This should get you started.

Make a list of where the stores are and their hours. This gives you your road map. Expand your geographical search depending on where you live and your level of comfort. You can always go further if you want to do a bit of a road trip someday.  

Where do you go? 

Consignment Stores  

These, I find, are the best places to start. Make sure you are going to those that are houseware or home decor specific or have a home section. Many that you find will have clothes, so try to find out ahead of time to save you the trip. These stores are set up to house a variety of seller’s goods. Once an item is sold, the store will split the proceeds with the consigner. They are usually set up very well and the inventory turns frequently, so go often.

Thrift Shops

These are your local Salvation Army, Goodwill, and smaller independent outfits. They usually have a small “housewares” department. As will all these stores, don’t get discouraged if you don’t find anything on the first try. Go frequently and you will eventually find an item that makes all your trips worth it. 

Antique Stores & Markets

These tend to be a bit pricier, but are definitely worth a trip. The owners have already “curated” the inventory, so you know the quality will be high. Antique markets are almost always a group of smaller dealers who have individual stalls or tables and are extremely fun to browse through. Each stall has their own style and you can come across some beautiful pieces. 

Other notable places: Church thrift shops, flea markets, and yard sales are all worth checking out as well!

vintage, antique store, flea market

Bonus Tip!

Get to know the owners and employees of these stores. Talk to them, introduce yourself and build relationships. They have a lot of knowledge and knowledge is key in this business. Who knows, if you let them know what you are looking for or what you like, they may call you up when it comes in.  

vintage, plates, servingware

Vintage Shopping Online: eBay & Etsy

Both Etsy and eBay can be really overwhelming if you’re a new user or aren’t sure how to start your search. My #1 tip for Etsy is to find a few sellers/shops who have pieces that you like and start “following” them. If you like what they have, you will continue to like their new listings as well. This is what makes the Etsy community so wonderful.

eBay can be great if you have a specific item in mind. Their search function is easy, but you need to be as specific as you can. You can even make a saved search for the items you’ve been looking for such as “vintage blue tea pot”.

For me, the quality is always in question with eBay items; on the other hand, Etsy finds are curated and the quality is excellent. With both sites, a reputable seller will always list and show any blemishes that an item has.

vintage, hooks, hanging

Thanks, Kelly! As anyone who has tried to blend vintage and modern decor knows, it’s one thing to find treasures but another thing to figure out how to use them. Stay tuned for Kelly’s next post, which will help you figure out what to look for, how to know if you’re paying fair value, and how to incorporate vintage pieces into your home.

* * * * *

Kellyheadshot-1 I’m Kelly, Shop Owner and Curator at the Etsy store Vintage Modernista. Living in New England, I’m a mom to two girlie girls, wife to my best friend and lover of all things vintage. Being exposed to vintage at a young age (thanks mom!) helped define my sole purpose of the store: to find really cool old things and put them in the hands of those who want to give them a new life! When I’m not perusing antique stores or shoving others at an estate sale (kidding, but not really), you can find me at home with my family cooking, playing and constantly picking up.

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