Vintage Treasure Hunting Tips

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

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I am all about finding those special, hard to find vintage items that make my heart go pitter patter and that fill our home with love, special stories, and a just a wee bit of quirky on a budget.  We're a family of six on a single income living in San Diego, so budget is my new middle name!

Here are my tips for successful vintage treasure hunting.

1.  Know what you're looking for.  I keep a list {in my head} of the special things that I would like for our home.  My list used to be longer, but I've been pretty successful lately so currently on that list- a small table for our living room and a vintage metal colander.  And I always have my eye out for vintage Pyrex in snowflake blue.

2.  Be aware of the general range of prices for items that you'd like- that way when you find it, you know whether or not you're getting a good deal.  For example, I have wanted an antique kitchen scale FOREVER.  I looked at antique stores and the general range was $45-$75, which is way over what I was willing to pay.  This rusty old beauty caught my eye at a garage sale recently and came home with me.  Price= $10!

3.  Let others know what you're looking for.  I recently happened to tell my Dad that we were looking for a small round kitchen table with 4 chairs, but that I hadn't found any under $100.  It was just a casual mention in a conversation.  A couple of weeks later he was driving to our house and past a thrift store and guess what was sitting out front... yep, a small round kitchen table with 4 chairs.  Not only did he tell me about it, he drove me there and loaded it in his empty truck and brought it home for me!  Price= $60

I'm finishing up on painting the table and chairs, and I can't wait to share it with you soon!

Also I recently asked about play sets for the backyard on my personal Facebook page.  Every single recommendation was for the Costco play set.  And then something miraculous happened- a friend of mine said that she had a Costco play set in her backyard that we could have.   Guess what is now in my backyard?!  Seriously, letting people know what you're looking for pays off.  Price= FREE!

4.  Know when to pass, even if you really don't want to.  My example- I wanted a Coke crate I saw on Craigslist so badly about 6 months ago.  It was $25, which I knew was priced at the tippy top of the general price range {because I shop around, check out the antique stores and thrift stores, so I know the general price range}.  I emailed her to ask her if she would take $20.  She said no.  I passed.  2 days later I found this gorgeous old Coke crate at a yard sale.  Price= $5!

5.  Know when to bargain.  This is a tricky one because I like to be fair to the seller, but I also like a bargain.  But because I know the general price range on items I'm buying, I know if the price probably has some wiggle room.  It doesn't hurt to ask- just make sure that you are being reasonable.   I recently was on the hunt for a small coffee table for our living room.  This coffee table {that I have now painted a beautiful creamy yellow} was exactly what I had in mind.  It was priced at $20, I offered $10, and she said yes.  It now sits in our living room and I love it.

6.  Know where to look, look often, and follow through quickly.  I'm a huge fan of Craigslist.  I could do a whole separate post on Craigslist {maybe I will do that soon} so I'll keep it brief here.  If you really want something, search for it often, search for it under different possible titles, keep looking {sometimes it takes a while, but eventually what I'm looking for pops up!} and when you contact the seller, don't waste their time.  They have no obligation to sell to you, so if you're not quick about coming to buy it, they'll move on to someone who is.  When I found this vintage gum ball machine {it has the metal claw foot stand too}, I jumped on it.  I have seen these priced anywhere from $50-$100.  Price= $10!  

Yard Sales- I search on Craigslist and on local sale pages on Facebook starting on Thursday if I'm planning to go yard sale hunting on Saturday morning.  I could do a whole separate post here too, but for now I'll just say that I skip ads without pictures, so if you're having a yard sale I definitely suggest adding pictures to your ad- it doesn't have to be of everything you're selling.  I'm just looking for a general vibe of your style and the general condition of your stuff.  I took a picture of this pretty girl at a yard sale about a week ago, but I passed on it because I didn't have cash on me but I took the lady's phone number and sat on it for a few days {I knew I'd be putting a decent amount of work into painting it and changing out the glass doors for something more my style.}  Then I shared this picture on Instagram and Facebook and asked people how much they would pay for it.  The prices people told me ranged from $25- $200.  I called her a few days later when I couldn't stop thinking about it- she said $40, I asked if she would take $30.  She said yes.  Price= $30 and delivered for free!

I can't wait to get her all fixed up and share it with you soon!

Thrift Stores- I have rarely had much luck at the "brand name" thrift stores because they are crowded, picked over, and overpriced {at least where I am they are, I know some people have better luck with theirs} but I have found one teeny tiny local thrift store that I love.  In fact, my round table and chairs,  small coffee table, and this adorable high chair are all from that same place, and all for prices that had me squealing with glee!  I've seen high chairs like this priced from $50- $125.  Price= $10!

So, those are my Vintage Treasure Hunting Tips in a nutshell for you.  I hope it helps you find your next treasure!
Rachel @ The Philosophers Wife said...

Great post! I love the treasures that you've been able to find!

I picked up an American Girl doll last week for $5 at an auction! I was sooo excited!

Erica - Life at the Clubhouse said...

Love this post! So glad you got that hutch! I can't wait to see what you do with it!!


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