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How to Successfully Shop for Antiques

Updated: Feb 2

There are few things more thrilling than antique shopping. There is just something about the hunt and finding unique treasures that speak to you, are perfect for your space, or complete a collection you’ve been working on for years. To add some ease to your next antique shopping endeavor, we wanted to share seven tips to take an antique shopping spree near you to the next level.

7 Tips for Antique Shopping

Woman in Vintage Outfit Shops at America's Antique Mall

  1. Be prepared

  2. Identify quality antique shopping near you

  3. Mind your manners

  4. Stick to what you love

  5. Examine items carefully

  6. Know the vendor’s policies

  7. Take your time

1. Have a Plan

Although a part of the fun of antique shopping is the unknown of what you may find, it is still important to be prepared practically and mentally. If there is a chance you may be purchasing larger items like furniture, ensure you have the proper vehicle to bring it home. It’s also a good idea to clean out your car, making sure there is the most space possible for any items you may find. You’ll thank yourself later when you are able to put your timeless treasure into a tidy car, not worrying if they will get dirty or scratched.

Like with any good shopping trip, it’s never a bad idea to make a list and take inventory beforehand about what you want or need for a particular space, person, or collection. Do a little research to be as educated as possible on the antiques you are searching for. Don’t forget to bring a measuring tape, rags, and old blankets or towels to protect your precious purchases on their journey back to your home.

2. Find the Best Antique Shopping Near You

Booths in America's Antique Mall

There are many styles of antique shopping and antique stores. If you don’t mind sifting through a lot of stuff, flea markets or second-hand stores may be fine. However, if you want a truly exceptional antique shopping experience, shopping at an antique mall near you is the best bet.

Antique mall spaces are filled with amazing vendors that have an ever-changing inventory of high-quality items. From antique furniture to heirloom jewelry and collectible items, it’s hard to go home empty-handed! Antique malls also offer many amenities such as friendly and knowledgeable staff, a clean space that is easy to navigate, and some antique malls even have a cafe or a coffee shop inside.

If you are truly on the hunt for antique pieces, it’s important to know the difference between antique and vintage. To be antique, an item must be at least 100 years old. To be vintage it should be at least 20 years old. But there are many pieces that don’t fall into either category that are restored and sold at antique malls near you. If a piece of home decor sparks joy and brings a smile, you should get it no matter its age!

3. Antique Shopping Etiquette Dos and Don’ts

Shopper Chooses an Item from a Display Case at America's Antique Mall

  • DO greet the vendor or staff at the booth or store

  • DON’T haggle prices (prices are typically set at an antique mall)

  • DO put things back as you found them or bring them up front for staff to return

  • DON’T set an item you found in one booth away in another booth the vendors are likely different

  • DON’T bring food or drink in without asking first

  • DO understand that if you break it, you buy it

  • DON’T bring large bags or purses into booths

  • DO buy it if you like it, otherwise, it might be gone next time

  • DON’T leave children unattended

  • DO stop in frequently to see changing inventory

  • DON’T be afraid to ask questions; most vendors and staff are happy to educate

4. Keep Your Vision in Mind

It can be easy to get distracted and lose track of what you are looking for or what you truly like when antique shopping. With so many different textiles, household items, and odds and ends displayed, you can easily get swept up and forget what your style is or what you are on the hunt for.

Regardless of trends, a good rule of thumb for the next antique shopping trip near you is to stick with what you love. As you take inventory and create your list before hitting the antique mall, make sure you solidify what colors you’re looking for, the décor style (modern, retro, mid-century, farmhouse) you like, the sizes need for furniture items, and what pieces are missing in your antique collections.

Collection of Silver in Antique Store Display

5. Thoroughly Inspect Antiques

When you have found an antique treasure you are interested in, make sure to be diligent in your inspection of it. This is important to ensure not only quality but also authenticity.

Antique porcelain, ceramics, and silver often have hallmarks that confirm they are authentic. Another trick to porcelain is to hold your smartphone flashlight up to the porcelain item - if the light shines through, it is legitimate. Antique furniture often has labels, signatures, or the maker’s location stamped somewhere. With a little research ahead of time, you should have no problem sniffing out the dupes.

When examining an antique item, remember what its function will be. If you’ve found a piece of art while antique shopping that you’ve fallen in love with, but it has some damage to the back of the frame, it’s probably fine since that side won’t be showing when hung. Keeping the perspective of what something will be used for will help you decide whether some of its antique charm is a detriment or benefit.

6. Understand the Return Policy

Antique shopping can be quite the investment of not only time but also money. It is important to know the store’s return policy in the chance that the one-of-a-kind antique chaise lounge you thought would fit perfectly in your bedroom doesn’t.

Know that most antique malls, including America’s Antique Mall, do not allow returns.

7. Antique Shopping Requires Patience

The beauty of antique shopping is that it is as much of a process and experience as it is a shopping trip. Finding valuable, unique items takes time and often requires you to regularly visit an antique mall near you to keep up with the changing inventory.

Rushing into anything is never a good idea. Just like it takes time for something to become antique, remember to take your time when antique shopping to truly find something you love and cannot stop thinking about. Just don’t wait too long or it may be gone.

With these seven tips, you are well on your way to a successful antique shopping trip near you. We hope to see you soon at America’s Antique Mall; we can’t wait to see what you find!

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