Thursday, September 6, 2012

Where To Shop: Antique Stores

I'm going to say this flat out: antique stores are not for everyone.

There is a rather uncomfortable moment for most of us younger folks when walking into antique stores. It doesn't matter how well you are dressed or how classy you look, there are many shop owners who believe that if you are under the age of 40 and walking into an antique shop your primary goal is to streak greasy fingerprints across the beautiful items and smash the fragile ones. I find that this look is often the deciding factor on whether or not I return to a shop. Honestly, if the shop owners can't get over their age prejudice long enough to see that I am not rough with a single item, then I am more than willing to buy my teacups elsewhere, thank you very much! It's not every store, of course, but it happens in many a shop and it is uncomfortable every time.

But, once you've found an antique store where the atmosphere is welcoming and the stuff is interesting, go for it. Explore. Return again a month or so later to see what's new. Once you've found a store worth supporting, support it!

Shopping at antique stores can be like shopping at a thrift store but trickier and more expensive.

Price does not equal quality. Sometimes, the price gets hiked up simply because of the age of the item. Same deal: check the seams, check for stains, make sure it fits. With accessories, take the same care. You don't want to pay twenty dollars for an antique parasol that has a huge hole in it. You don't want to buy something with a funny smell hanging around it. Of course, if you truly want a holey parasol, that's your prerogative and I won't naysay you for your interest in the aesthetic of decay.

Don't be afraid to haggle. Don't, of course, do this in charity shops, but in for-profit stores like most antique stores, see if you can knock a couple of dollars off the price. Remember to be reasonable (half-price is not an acceptable offer unless there's something seriously wrong with it and the price does not reflect this) and you might get a better deal. I once got a mink coat for 15% off thanks to timing (a warm winter makes for a difficult to sell fur coat) and haggling. Go ahead and try it.

 If you're plus-sized, like I am, be realistic about what will and will not fit. Don't try it on if it's obviously too small, lest you break it and have to buy it. Be careful when you are trying things on.

 That said, antique stores are a wonderful place to shop, especially for accessories. Jewelry, bags, and random shawls and hats are everywhere. You can find them to match almost any style and you can find the absolute strangest pieces. Usually the weirdest pieces are the cheap ones because they're the hardest to sell. My favorite piece... ever... from an antique store is my lion necklace. I saw it and exclaimed, "It looks like a doorknocker!" And then I bought it for four dollars.

It is, I swear to you, much shinier than this picture would indicate, but the picture gives you a  good look at the details.
And if I can find something that fabulous at that reasonable of a price, you can, too.

Go forth and antique, friends. You never know what you'll find!

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