Wait, wait, wait, let me preface this by saying that what I actually mean is, here are a few things to think about when you first start thrifting. I know nothing about proper antiquing, where you're worried about when it was made and if there's a chip and how that affects the value – no, no, no, my friends. Non, non, non, mes amis! I do not frequent those types of antique shops. This is all about those local antique shops and thrift stores, where you search for inexpensive but amazing finds for your home … or to sell. Not only can you put together a gorgeous home, piece by piece, on a shoestring budget, but you can also make a lot of money if you have a keen eye.
1. Know What You Need Vs. What You Want
Because it's way too easy to end up with a house full of furniture, accent pieces, and doodads, with nowhere to put them all. After your first trip. To your first store. Seriously, this happens.
2. Don't Love It? Leave It
Seriously, if you're ambivalent about something, forget it. Leave it. You don't need it, you won't want to do anything with it, and it will moulder away in your house.
3. Explore the Outer Reaches
You never know what cool things you might find, and the neatest things sometimes hide in the strangest places. Don't discount a store just because it looks a little ragged, and don't ignore a booth, a nook, or a cranny at first glance.
4. Go in with a Fully Open Mind
Even though you shop with a list of items you'd like, try to have an open mind. Look at an item's potential sometimes. Consider odd things, especially if you've never seen them before.
5. Try New Places
When you first start out, start local. Look for thrift shops, Good Will stores, and antique spots in and around your town. Branch out to neighboring towns as you go. Keep a list of places that always have great finds.
6. Frequent Your Favorites
For several reasons, the first being that the employees will get to know your face. You might even get friendly, which can lead not just to real friendships but also the occasional deal. The second reason is because you can get some insider info and even make requests for particular items.
7. Shop Often
Now, isn't that a great rule for a hobby? Seriously, though, new items come in and out of antiques malls and stores every day. You may not buy something every time you shop, but you should make the rounds pretty often.
8. Always Set a Budget
Always. Every buying trip. Don't just wing it. That never works out. At some point, you will accidentally spend a fortune.
9. Take Cash and Credit
Now, no, there's not a separate budget for each. This is just practical, especially when you're visiting new shops – some of them only accept cash, so it's always better to have it on hand. That being said, one trick Heather and I use to stay on budget is to take out our budget in cash and leave the cards at home. Can't overspend when you don't have the money!
10. Ask about Deals
I know one store that randomly has deals throughout the week. Another offers them every other Sunday. Even if it means coming back another day, the sales are usually worth it.
11. Do the Social Media Thing
Not just because some shops announce deals on their social media pages, too, but also because you can sometimes get coupon codes, learn about upcoming auctions, or hear about future estate sales.
12. Don't Buy for the Sake of Buying
If you don't find something you love, don't feel like you have to buy something. It's okay to walk away empty-handed sometimes.
13. Be Realistic
It happens to everyone. You fall in love with a piece of furniture or clothing that's falling apart. You're handy, but you know you're not that handy, and it's not even worth the price – so don't get it. It's tempting, I know, but it's not worth it.
14. It's Okay to Haggle
That is, it never hurts to ask, and you never know – you might find a hidden talent for it! It's especially okay to haggle over damaged items.
15. Don't Take on Too Much
In addition to not purchasing anything too rickety or hopeless, don't take on a piece that's going to take too much time, money, or effort. Well, if it's going into your home and it's a pet project, okay, but if you're selling, be smart. Your time is money.
16. Sets Are Awesome
Sets of tea cups or china. Sets of tables, books, or chairs. It's entirely possible that a buyer may want to separate pieces, but that's at your discretion. I just know that if I'm looking for night tables or end tables, I love a matching pair.
17. Caveat Emptor
Above all, always remember this. Most antiques places and thrift stores have a no-returns policy. Buyer beware.
Are you into thrifty antiquing? What do you do with your wonderful finds?