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  • Writer's pictureWELL ROUNDED

Well at Home: How to Shop Vintage

Updated: Aug 3, 2023

Tips and tricks on how to score some good stuff

It seems like Vintage is having a moment. Everyone is out to the thrift stores looking for special pieces to fill their homes. The real treat is on the hunt, rummaging through bins, garage sales, flea markets, or your mother's basement.

At the beginning of my vintage journey, I was intimidated by the number of items out there. I'd would often ask myself "How can you really tell whether an item is vintage? What is Vintage? Is it valuable? Is it cool or am I just tired?" Not to mention, sourcing vintage in particular requires an eye, negotiating skills, and patience. A lot of patience. Admittedly at the time, I had none.

My approach to sourcing is nothing revolutionary but rather intrinsic. I know it sounds cheesy, but I ask myself " Does this item speak to me?" As a collector of glassware, I tend first to take notice of such items at a vintage market. Things I am particularly drawn to are color, shape, and origin. Next is a matter of condition and how much I am willing to invest in restoring if needed.

While we are on our vintage journeys, I have a few tips and tricks to help you in your search for some cool stuff.

Not all old objects are vintage

It's easy to make that assumption, after all, you find yourself at an "antique" market so you rely on that marketing. Turns out, some nonvintage items make their way into these markets and confusion unfolds. I once thought I had scored a cute silver piglet for my kitchen. I was so excited, I failed to inspect it closely. Turns out my new piggy was from a big box store. Imagine the disappointment, but I've since kept him because, after all, I fell in love with him.

Sounds like a no-brainer but inspect items closely and don't be afraid to ask where the item originates from.

For reference, the general age of an item to be considered vintage is between 20 to 100 yrs. old. An antique item is more than 100 yrs. old.

Stick to a list

Oh, you will be tempted to buy a heavy wood antique French armoire for 50 bucks before considering where you're going to place it. I mean, a deal is a deal, right? Until you look like a hoarder with no space in your home.

There's no arguing in that you could score a mega deal but I find that the thrill of purchasing something based on the deal alone negates the point of vintage shopping. What drives me to source vintage pieces for my home are items that I believe would be special to have (i.e. barware, art, or Midcentury Modern furniture).

Don't get me wrong, price is an important factor when you're getting the item you were looking for.

Patience is virtue

This is perhaps the holy grail of vintage or antique shopping. You need a whole lot of patience. There will be many unsuccessful trips to the store until you find your treasured piece, but that will make it oh-so rewarding. Your dream piece is out there, you just gotta keep on looking.

Why Vintage matters

Not only does buying second-hand prove to be a sustainable way to consume, but it offers an alternative and way more rewarding purchasing experience than buying mass-produced items we find in the market. I believe that vintage and antique items allow a unique way of self-expression and individualistic taste. Only you would be able to express why you picked up that specific piece of art or unique glassware.

Closing remarks, if you are still here

Vintage is cool and vintage gives you clout. But it's also special, sustainable, and way more fun. If you're not into the hunt, I got you. I travel up and down the California coast looking for unique and special vintage, antique, and second-hand items for your home. I take pride in the objects I've collected for the store and I can tell many of you seem to really enjoy my finds. With that in mind, I have a new collection I know you will love.


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