Ultimate Guide to Successful Antique Shopping

Is there an art to antique shopping? Not necessarily, but there are a few tips I can share with you to make your antique shopping trip more successful, and by successful, I mean finding something worth buying!

pintrestpostantiques.jpgWe have  quite a few large antique shops here in Mooresville, NC, as well as another very large shop in Concord, NC. The biggest are housed in old Mills with outstanding square footage and the antiques seem to go on for days. Some of the 10×10 booths within the Mills are piled high with what looks like the entire contents of grandma’s house, while other booths look like somebody’s perfectly staged modern farmhouse. I’ve spent half a day looking through all the booths. You can get lost in it all.

Sometimes, a successful Antique shopping trip for me, means going into the retailer and finding that one piece I’ve been looking for. While other successful trips mean finding something I didn’t expect to find. Both results are very fulfilling (who doesn’t like coming home with loot?).

Here are my tips for you the next time you visit an Antique Shop;


  • Narrow Your Scope. I usually jot down a few things in the notes section of my phone that I am looking for. This helps me stay on track while searching. When you narrow your focus down to a few items, it helps you weed through all the items that pack these types of shops and can overwhelm you. I recently decided I was going to fill a metal box with wooden rolling pins. I’m pretty sure most people collect the rolling pins over time, but I wanted the look that day (what can I say, I have no patience). My shopping trip became like a game, every booth was an eye spy for rolling pins.4BB68CF1-8987-42E9-8F5F-486B85F3B6D6
  • Set a Budget per Item or per Trip. When I was shopping for the rolling pins I set some guidelines for myself. I was not going to spend more than $5 for each pin, unless for some reason it was unique. This stops me from overpaying for items. Also, in these big antique stores you might find everything you want in the first few booths, not knowing that you are going to find the same (or similar) items further into the store for cheaper. If I’m not searching for something specific, I like to set a budget for the trip. For example, I’m not going to spend more than $150. That can be spent on 10 items or 1 item. I find this helps me slow down and stops me from overpaying. I really consider the value and impact of what I’m buying.
  • You’ll Know a Good Price When you Find it! Ever found something you thought you loved and then flipped over the price tag? Didn’t love it so much after seeing those shocking numbers, did you? Don’t worry about googling the price or trying to find if it’s a true antique. If you are buying antiques for home décor and it feels like it’s priced too high, it probably is!I found the below antique theater seats for $95. There were 4 in the row, but I took one off to fit this space. I went to another antique store two weeks later, and found the same type of theater seats (4 in the row) for $399! I love these seats and knew if I ever found anything like them I would buy them right away, however I would have restrained myself had I found the $399 chairs first.8D970FC0-B7CB-4C2C-BFB8-C1D25EAF5DD7
  • Let the Items Speak to You. Ok, that sounds hippy dippy, but I guarantee you will find something you absolutely love if you hear me out. For me it’s typically a larger vintage furniture piece. Don’t pass on something you won’t be able to stop thinking about. Even if it’s priced out of your budget (I know, I know)! You will regret it, I promise. And chances are you won’t be able to go back and get it because someone else will scoop it up. Antique stores are filled with one of a kind items. When they are gone, they are gone!
  • Finally, Don’t Buy Anything You Can Make Yourself. I have a hard policy on this (at least for myself). The wood signs with quotes are very popular right now. People take a piece of wood, stain or paint, and a cricket or stencil to write out a quote. That’s it, though sometimes they are little more unique. Also, chalk painted furniture is another trend I see in a lot of antique shops. You can do these types of projects yourself without having to pay the premium of someone else doing it for you. The only time I bend this rule, is if I can’t physically do it myself or I don’t realistically have the time. I bought my kitchen table from an antique store because it was handmade with barnwood and metal fabricated legs. I do not know how to fabricate metal! This table also fell under the “Let it Speak to You” rule, for me. It was worth every penny to me.diningroom

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