There are lots of people just like you and me out and about searching for “bargain” antiques and collectibles and not all of them know what it takes to score a major deal or “find” so in the hopes of starting off the New Year with “good karma”, I am sharing my 5 secrets for scoring antiques and collectibles for bargains.
Frequency is Key
Frequency is the key to finding bargains. The more frequent you are out antiquing means the better your possibility for finding a bargain. It may take a bit of time to develop a “pattern” for visiting your favorite antique shops, thrift stores, flea markets, estate sales and also your favorite online sites but you will learn when the sales are, when the new merchandise is out, and when your best opportunity for a bargain is likely to come so remember that frequency is the key as the more frequently you do something the better chance of seeing results.
Garage Sales, Estate Sales and Flea Markets
Stopping by garage sales, estate sales and flea markets early in the morning or if possible BEFORE the sale opens to the public will give you a head-start as you will already know what items are for sale and if any possible “scores” are there. Sure, at the beginning of a sale most sellers will stick to their price and not negotiate too far down (if at all) but checking back towards the end of the sale may just score you a bargain as its not a favorite thing for sellers and dealers to have to haul their items back to their homes/warehouses as they too would rather let something go at a discount to avoid having to do this and also towards the end of sales is usually when items are already marked well below what they originally started off at. Many estate sales will be a 2 day or 3 day event like a Friday-Sunday or Friday-Saturday and will have a sheet or post information of what day or at what times during the day items will start getting marked down so be aware of this and look for this.
Research Your Way to Bargains
“When in Doubt, Whip it Out”. Living in today’s technology age where many of us carry smart phones and iPads in our purses (I am never without my iPhone and have my iPad in my purse too) makes for a convenient way to lookup and research anything we come across and instantly know if an item is a bargain, a potential bargain or not a bargain. There are so many great websites out there where you can research just about any antique and collectible and instantly know its current market value and what it sold for at auction over a period of time. Some of these sites do require a subscription and this comes with a fee, but at a few bucks a year it’s generally a great tool and will certainly provide instant knowledge so you may want to look at PriceMiner and WorthPoint to start off with!! There are even some websites where you can upload a photo of an item and get instant results of what it is, maker, pattern, year made etc… REALLY great!! Yes, it helps to know as much as possible about the items that interest you but When in Doubt, Whip it Out.
Condition Matters A Lot
It can feel like hitting the jackpot when you score a bargain on an antique or collectible but proceed with caution. I have written past articles where I give tips to help you determine the items condition, visit my Holiday Shopping Tips for Vintage Collectibles and Antiques article so you know what to look for to better determine item condition.
Yes, you come across that “find” and have determined that it is a bargain but before you proceed to the register and pull the cash out of your pocket, make certain the condition is as good as possible as nothing will lower the value of a antique or collectible faster then its condition. Also, be cautious if your “find” is bargain priced, as this can be a Red Flag that there are some condition issues.
Pick It Up? Put It Down?
When shopping for bargain antiques and collectibles its good to “set a spending limit”. Setting spending limits are a ”good thing” and will help you shop smartly as being an emotional buyer may not yield many bargains. You know your finances and believe me, you will always find “something” to buy when antique and collectibles hunting but keeping focused and staying on path of “finding bargains” and knowing your spending limits will help you make the decision of “Pick it up or Put it Down”.
I would love hearing from you so please let me know if my tips are helpful and have helped you find real bargains. Good luck and shop smart!!