Monday, February 25, 2013

Second-hand Savvy

Lately, I have so enjoyed browsing through antique shops.  I am finding there are quite a bit of shops in our area to choose from.  Some shops are spectacular and some not so much.  I have been helping my mother furnish a second home that her and my daddy are getting ready to move into for their new work.  We are hoping to do as much as we can on as little as possible.  It has been like treasure hunting to find items that will work correctly in this home that will also be stunning design elements. 

I find myself organizing our shopping themes lately, and I thought it would be good to make a list for all my bargain hunting friends.  I think when you are shopping for a large project, or a small one, it can be more successful to go about it with a mission in mind.  Without further adieu, here are my notes on being second-hand savvy!

1.  The Smell of Life. 
If you shop second-hand or antique markets, prepare yourself for many different aromas--dare I say odors.  I call this The Smell of Life. Try not to discount a shop that has an interesting scent.  Just remember that each shop contains items from many homes with many different scents.  You have grandma's attic combined with Hoarder Harry mixed with Eclectic Ellen that have all placed their items in the same shop for sale.  Grandma may have had a cat, while Ellen loved her bunnies.  Avoid things that might harbor the scents, that cannot be washed or refinished.  As long as your item can be thoroughly scrubbed, repainted, or refinished the smell of life should just be ignored.  It is hard sometimes.  Take a cup of coffee with you and keep it ever close to your nose!  It works, I promise. 
2.  Think about budget.

I find that certain items you want are perfectly great to get at a steal.  Other items it is OK to splurge a little.  Just give yourself a budget that you want to stay in.  If your doing a whole room or even a house as we are, think about it in vignettes.  For instance, we just purchased a pair of chairs along with a table and some lamps.  We decided to go far less on the table and put more buck in the lamps.  The lamps are showy and front and center.  We knew what we wanted to spend and that helped us narrow down many choices.  Sometimes less is far more.  A few extra bucks on knock-out lamps is better than 10 cheap nick-knacks that you will only have to dust. 
3.  Think about Quality.

A bargain is not a bargain if it is really just a piece of junk.  It is that simple.  So let's you find the cutest rocker for your baby's room.  However, the back is wobbly and there are some things missing here and there.  Think about what it will take to make it sturdy.  Take into account the time, supplies, and effort that give you the finished product.  Sometimes that bargain isn't really a bargain after all.  Get an ideal for paints or stains you might want to use and what they cost.  Take into account any hardware that you might be replacing.  If you have to repair the item, refinish it, and add new hardware, it might be better to look for new in the sale departments of home goods type stores.  Don't buy a piece of junk when you could get new for the same price. 

4.  Do a little research.

Take a bit of time to think about what items you want.  Do a quick internet search of what the items cost new.  You may value the heritage and quality of antique and feel good about spending more.  However, if you are solely after a bargain it is good to know what a new item of the same type would cost.  This way, you are not carried away by something you find, thinking you got a good deal.  A dresser at a box store might cost $150 that is new and ready to go.  The one in the antique shop might say $150 as well.  Now you know what to compare it to.  Is is quality? How much time do I want to invest to restore it if necessary? Is the price a good value?
5.  Don't be afraid to negotiate. 
In some shops negotiating does not work.  They are vendor based and cannot offer discounts without the vendor there to approve.  It doesn't hurt however to ask if you can leave a note for the vendor to consider your offer.  You never know what deal you might get.  However, be prepared that your item of choice might sale before you hear back.  If you love and really want it, you might just better snatch it while you can. If you can handle waiting and maybe loosing out...then wait it out!
6.  Have Fun!

Have fun.  Take time to stroll down memory lane as you will most certainly find an old wagon-wheel sofa that closely matches the one you always napped on at Grandma Gladys' house.  It is fun to discover tidbits of our past.  Remember you may not find a thing, but you can still have fun looking.
Happy Shopping!
B Charmer

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