You know those oversized coats, perfectly worn vintage band tees, old globes or antique vases you stumble upon that seem to speak right to you? Well, me too. There are a million reasons why I love vintage shopping, partly because it’s therapeutic but mainly because you can find one-of-a-kind treasures to style in and around your modern day decor. I’ve definitely considered the possibility that I was born in the wrong decade, do you ever feel like that?! Either way, I’ve rounded up 8 vintage shopping tips you can use when searching for those old pieces you’re hoping to give a new life to. Are there any pointers you feel I’ve missed? We would love to hear in the comment below – where are your favorite places to score amazing vintage wares?
Know where to shop.
I’m happy to say that the smaller, independently owned vintage and thrift stores are where I usually find the best pieces. Not only are they typically more curated than other secondhand shops, but there is also just a certain romanticism to stumbling upon a quiet, ‘hole-in-the-wall’ vintage store filled to the brim with storied objects. My favorite things to look for in shops like this are “place specific” items, whether that be a vintage souvenir mug from the town you are visiting or an old decorative map of your hometown. If you’re local, some of my favorite spots reside on the Minnehaha Mile, like Turquoise Vintage (show in the photos in this post) and Time Bomb Vintage.
Pick it up!
When thrifting, I always find that picking up and feeling what I’m shopping for gives me a better understanding of it. It’s really hard to reimagine how an old object might look and feel in your own home when its cluttered by other unrelated objects. If a serving platter catches your eye—try picking it up. Bring yourself out of that store and picture yourself in your home entertaining your friends and family with it. Oftentimes this gives me a better sense of what objects will add to my life and what ones I just like because of the interesting color or shape.
A ‘good deal’ does not equal a ‘good buy’.
It’s easy to fall into the habit of extreme bargain shopping when buying secondhand. When you see a vintage wicker chair priced at $15, don’t fall for it. Chances are that the seat is unraveling or that the previous owner’s dog used the legs as a chew toy. There are always going to be extremely cheap pieces with a lot of potential, but many of them are beyond the point of repair. That being said, keep trying and another wicker chair in much better condition will show up. Which brings me to my next point…
It’s a waiting game.
Some days you will walk out with nothing. Other days you will have to call your friend’s aunt’s brother-in-law to pick you up with his pickup truck. The point is, thrifting is a give and take! Pick a few favorite spots around you and visit them frequently—shops like this cycle through inventory pretty quick. Plus, if you go enough, there’s a good chance of befriending an employee and finding when they get new hauls in.
Find a balance between shopping with a purpose and having a curious eye.
Walking into a store like this can be incredibly intimidating if you don’t have any idea what you’re looking for. Set out with a purpose—maybe you’re looking for a new accent coffee table, a few vintage vinyls, or an art deco bar set (or all three!!). But don’t let that limit you; some of the best finds are going to be totally unexpected and surprising. Keep a curious mind and browse a bit after you’ve yay’d or nay’d all of the things you walked in for!
A tape measure. Pinterest. And hand sanitizer.