I got into vintage shopping probably 10 years ago. One day I thought it sounded fun so I wrote down every shop in town and saw them all. I bought myself a cute apron that I adored! And with that, I was hooked. It’s not super easy to get into, so I wanted to give some tips in case it sounds fun to you too!
Here’s the thing about adding vintage items to your house- it is an affordable way to have something totally unique. Plus, its good for the environment! I also just love that when you have vintage, it adds a sense of age to a space. If a room is all brand new, it lacks a depth that vintage instantly injects.
Ok, we all love vintage! Let’s figure out how to get it out of the flea market and into our homes.
flea market shopping tips
Last weekend, my sister and I went to the Market Beautiful– a once a year vintage market in Salt Lake City. These tips will work in and flea or antique markets.
First up, bring cash in small bills. I also like to get out as much cash as my budget allows. So when the cash is gone, I know that I’m done. Lots of vendors take cards, but I find that is slower and they usually prefer when you pay in cash.
Bring your own bags so you can shop hands free. I wore a small backpack and had reusable bags in it. This was helpful so that when I bought bigger items, I could stash them in my bag and shop with ease.
Have an idea in your head about what you want before you arrive. White down measurements if needed and bring a tape measure. I thought about projects I wanted to do and holidays coming up. Since I’m working on a bunch of stuff, I kept an eye out for items that could work with those. I was also open to fun items that spoke to me.
Wear comfy shoes. You’ll be walking a lot and don’t want tired feat to slow you down.
tips once you arrive
Choose a route and stick to it. It can be REALLY easy to get “shiny object syndrome” at haphazardly go to where you see something pretty. I’ve found it works best to have a clear path and work from booth to booth. That way you see everything in an efficient way.
The early bird gets the worm. Be there as close to opening time as possible. The best stuff will be gone first.
Make a “band-aid” purchase. Sometimes it can be tough to make that first purchase- what if you find something better?! There’s so much pressure to only get the “perfect” thing! I find making a purchase at the beginning of the shopping trip without too much pressure helps rip off the band-aid so I’m open to the fun of finding what I want.
On that note, make a decision on an item the very first time you see it. If you don’t, you could miss out and it might be gone by the time you can make it back to that booth. Shop in your budget, but if you love something, get it right away!
Become friends with the vendors who’s stuff you love. The beauty of flea markets is that you’re buying directly from the shop owner. They love their stuff and want to see it go to a good home. Building a relationship is just a small perk of shopping in person. It makes the experience richer.
what should I actually buy?
When I first started vintage shopping- I was totally overwhelmed. It looked pretty in the shops but what should I buy that would work in my house?! Here’s what works for me-
Buy conversation starters. Look for unique small sculptural or whimsical times that will work on a shelf or tabletop. This is my favorite type of thing to get. They’re a small commitment, but add a ton of personality!
Art can be a better deal at flea markets than new art. Plus, then you’re getting something unique that you know won’t be in every house. Look for art that speaks to you. Portraits or landscapes are an easy way to start.
For furniture, look at the shape of the furniture, not the finish. You can paint anything. But interesting, quality pieces of furniture are harder to come by at affordable prices.
Other easy things to buy for flea market starters (or anyone 😉 )- books, records, kid toys, something you collect (or want to collect), dishes, candlesticks, architectural remnants, vases.
what I got (and how I styled it in my house)
Alright- want to see what I bought?!
I shared everything I bought over on my Instagram stories and the most popular was this brass bathtub. Isn’t it cute?! I paid $10 for it and it’d be cute in a bathroom for holding a bar of soap. I love that its just a silly little piece!
Next up is this ceramic swan that I got for $6! Its unique and quirky and I can put a plant in the back. I paired it with my brass swans and not this shelf has a theme. And you know that I love a theme!
I also got this cute tiny dog ceramic for $5 I think? I like that they look like my dogs. I’ll be making a shelf for my dog’s leashes/brush and it’ll go there. I also got some little Easter chics and some dollhouse furniture that I’ll show later.
the easiest way to get into vintage
If you want to test your hand at vintage shopping, the EASIEST way is by shopping Etsy! You can search for exactly what you want and compare prices and find good deals in the comfort of your home. Yes, shipping makes it more expensive, but the convenience might be worth it!
I searched for the items from this post, my most popular thrift store find (the ceramic cat), and a brass deer (that was so cute with my Christmas decor) and found similar items. These are available at the writing of this post, but I think they’ll go fast!
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