There has been a resurgence in recent years of all things vintage. People want to fill their homes with authentic pieces that have a history and tell a story. Bill and Lori Goodpasture own Room Service Vintage in Austin, an antique shop specializing in mid-century items from the 1930s to the 1970s with an emphasis on the ‘50s and ‘60s. They offered a few helpful suggestions when it comes to shopping, negotiating, and finding that perfect piece.
- Collect what you love. Bill Goodpasture encouraged people to find something that brings them joy. “Many people begin collecting antiques due to nostalgia, something they loved as a kid,” he said. “Having it again brings back that excitement.” Having a piece you love in your home will please you every time you look at it.
- Enjoy the hunt. “Sometimes the hunt is what’s most exciting,” explained Goodpasture, “especially when collecting a unique or hard-to-find item.”
- Negotiate prices wisely and politely. Haggling is commonplace and expected in the world of antiques, but there are a few unspoken rules to follow. First, ask the owner of the shop if they negotiate. It is very likely that they will, but demanding a lower price without checking first is likely considered rude. Next, make sure your price is a reasonable counteroffer. “Keep your offer within ten to 20 percent of the asking price,” suggested Goodpasture. People who sell antiques for a living are knowledgeable about their items and tend to price things fairly.
- Ask questions. Do not be afraid to ask the dealer questions about the piece. They will very likely know the style, age, origin, etc., of the item of interest. Also, ask about delivery options for larger pieces.
- Turn left. When shopping at antique fairs or flea markets, people usually tend to start out on the right. Going to the left first might just allow you to find a bargain or discover a treasure before anyone else scoops it up.
- Think before you buy. Before you make a purchase, particularly if it is something that will have a prominent place in your home, it is good to give it some thought. “Think about why you’re collecting this item,” he said. “Is it something you’ll enjoy? Where will you keep it in your home, and how will you use it? Will it fit with your other décor?” When it comes to smaller collectibles, he suggests asking yourself, “Do I need this? Is it different from the other versions that I already have? Do I have room to store or display it?”
- Make a note of favorite sellers. When you find a booth that has stunning items or antiques that suit your taste, make a note of their booth number and stop by their booth first on your next visit. They are likely to continue to have items you will enjoy in the future.
- Buy now or walk away? The golden rule of antique shopping is that if you like it, buy it now because it may not be there when you come back. However, if you are uncomfortable with the price and you are willing to risk losing the piece, you may find the price has been reduced after a few weeks. Occasionally, a dealer will be willing to hold something, but in general, be prepared to pay before you walk away. It is unfair to ask the dealer to miss a potential sale.