I LOVE LOVE LOVE antiquing, especially with my Mom. It is one of our favorite things to do together. My mom has such an eye for the value in something and I am happy to say I have learned that lesson well. We enjoy spending weekend after weekend prowling any and every antique store we can find. There is so much joy in finding something old that is new to me. I grew up antiquing all over the south. Seriously, what else is a southern belle to do? :) When I was younger, I sometimes felt bored by looking at old things because I did not understand the worth and story in each and every item. As I got older, I grew more and more in love with this hobby. What I love the most about digging through these places is that you can find gems for your home that are exactly like those on the current retail market. A couple of weeks ago, my mom and I were visiting an antique store in Sheffield, Alabama. All of the sudden, I looked over in a dark dusty corner and found THE perfect pair of candlesticks for my kitchen table. I just HAD to have them. Besides the fact that they were in perfect condition, excellently priced, and ah, vintage, they had an almost identical look to some that I had seen in Anthropologie just a few months earlier. Although I awed over the ones at Anthropologie, I did not buy them. When I saw these at the antique store, I was thrilled. The thought of taking something else that has a history of its own and giving it a sort of "life" in my own home is wonderful. As many of you know, I love history. History itself is a drive that keeps me prowling those crammed and cramped booths.
There are endless things to find in antique stores if you look carefully. Momentarily put aside those worries over dust and must and dig around! When you do find something, figure out exactly what you will use it for before you buy it. Having a purpose in your searching means you will only buy what you truly love. Keep in mind that though you may see the same items in the same stores for several visits, the people are trying to move out their items. If you find that have to have item, it is wise to get it then. You cannot always rely on coming back to guarantee that the piece will be there. I see so many signs in these stores that say, "The time to buy an antique is when you see it." Although this somewhat sounds like a sales plug, there is a true statement within it. People do have money in mind when selling their items. However, many are also selling them in an antique store in hopes that they will be passed on to others. Over time, you will find that you have an eye for what is priced well and what is not. Even I have realized that the owners or managers of the store will divulge secrets about a sellers items if it has remained in the same place for quite awhile. For furniture, consider the era of construction (most often listed on the tag), type of materials, scratches, and chips. It is unlikely that you will be able to find a true piece of antique furniture in mint condition. If you do, good for you. Most that look perfect are likely restored pieces meaning that the owner has fixed the paint, glass, wood, or hardware on the item. For jewelry, keep in mind the clear difference between costume and estate. Almost always, costume is reasonably priced where as estate, being of substantial value, needs some type of consultation. Most small home trinkets, of worthy value, can be assessed by research (as can all other categories.) For example, these candlesticks are made of vaseline glass which has a long history but was quite popular between the 1930s and 1970s. Now, I did not know this off the top of my head. My mom knew that this type of glass and for this blog, I researched a little bit. Dates for smaller items are really a personal preference. Many times, you can obviously tell the era of something, for example, retro floral kitchen bowls. Simply consider the date if you are going for a particular theme in your home or if history is important in your searching. You could put an item on hold if you really wanted to make sure that you paid the right price then do some googling. Moreover, you could ask a fellow friend or sales associate for their advice. I've often found that antique store owners and sellers are nowhere as pushy as those in mainstream retail. When you arrive at the counter, ASK FOR A DISCOUNT! Most often, antique stores are multiple booths owned by multiple people and if you ask, you will almost always get AT LEAST 10% off the current price. I have had even 30% and 40% offered to me if I will buy the item right then and not ask to have it held in the store.
So, I urge you to get out there, look around, really observe the things that are available. "Where did you find those in here," was all I needed to hear as confirmation of my digging adventure. As I pulled out of the parking lot, I made a left turn to frequent my next store.
Frequented Antique Stores: A mere list of antique stores. Make a comment with your favorites!
Cypress Creek Antiques-Florence, Alabama
Belle Meade Antiques-Florence, Alabama
Keepers of the Past-Sheffield, Alabama
Antiques Unlimited-Sheffield, Alabama
Franklin Antique Mall-Franklin, Tennessee
The Factory at Franklin-Franklin, Tennessee
Railroad Station Antiques-Huntsville, Alabama