Top Tips for Successful Vintage Shopping – Part 1 Markets, Car boot sales and Fairs

I have spent almost two decades now making a living from rummaging around in other peoples junk in search of treasure. I often get asked how I regularly find such great items and the answer is it is about 90% persistence. If you make it part of your day to scour the junk and charity shops, part of your week to visit local markets and car boots, part of your internet browsing to look through auction sites and catalogs and part of your life to always have one eye out for a vintage gem then you will have luck too.

Don’t worry though if your love of vintage hasn’t reached these heightened states of obsession (yet at least!) as there are many ways you can get the best out of your vintage shopping even if it is only the most casual and occasional occurrence.

I am going to give you my top tips on buying first of all concentrating on markets and car boots.

1. Get there early. There is no point wondering in at midday expecting to snap up a rare piece at a bargain price if it has been open since 7am. Do your homework, find out what time sellers arrive and if you can be there as soon as you can after that (bare in mind some do not let the public in until stalls are set up though). Although things do get over looked on occasion it is the early bird who has the greatest chance of catching the worm.

2.Be Nice. Smile, be polite and build a little rapport with the stall owner, even have a laugh and a joke, this not only makes things more pleasant for you both but means you are far more likely to get a good price if you decided to haggle which leads me on to tip 3.

3.Don’t be afraid to haggle. Now I find that buyers mainly fall in to 2 categories; those who will haggle and those that won’t! Personally I feel the successful bargain hunter is a mix of both. Personally I would say don’t haggle unnecessarily if they are asking £5 and you know it is worth £50 why beat them down for the sake of it? It is harsh at best. However if something is a little out of your budget then never be afraid to ask for the price to be dropped. Anything from 10 – 25 %  discount would be in most traders comfort zones but asking for 50% off with an aim of reaching about 30% is ok and you never know you might just get the 50% from time to time. If they won’t drop the price after a minute or two of trying then decide if it is worth it or not and walk away if necessary but not just for the sake of it, never take it personally. Traders may of paid to much themselves for an item or be sorely in need of the money to pay bills, never forget they have to make a living too.

4.If you like something keep hold of it. If you see something on a stall you like the look of pick it up while you are thinking about it, give it a good look over for signs of damage and don’t put it down until you have decided it is definitely not for you. Boot sales in particular can be fast moving and someone just may come and buy it while you are thinking about it if you don’t have it in your hand! While you are holding it carry on looking as you may see something you like more or that you can buy to and perhaps get a better price on several items.

5.Have a rummage! Now by this I do not mean go turning out peoples cars before they set up , something I find very rude and would not do myself, but look under the stall and through boxes that are open and out for you to do so. I have picked up things even late in the day using this tip.

6.Be selective. Visit the stalls first who look like they may have something you are looking for, if someone has a collection of modern lampshades you are unlikely to find a Ming vase amongst it so perhaps look on a neighboring stall first and come back to it once you have exhausted the more likely looking stalls. You do just never know though so keep your options open.

6.Try not to get carried away. Less is sometimes more and when things seem cheap it is easy to get carried away and just buy for the sake of it but if you find that missing cup for your Victorian tea set for just 50p but then spend £20 on a boot full of items you have no real use for then the cup ceases to be such a bargain.

7.Transport it home with care. Perhaps take a box and some newspaper with you to wrap delicate items as stall holders often don’t have any wrapping. Having found your treasure it would be a shame to break it on the way home wouldn’t it?

I hope you enjoyed my tips, find me on facebook for more vintage loveliness!

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