Shopping Tips for Thrifters

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Antique shops, flea markets and thrift stores are all full of amazing treasures … if you know how to go about finding them. Whether you are a collector, an upcycler or just someone who loves finding a diamond in the rough, there are some tricks of the trade to keep in mind. Interior decorator and home design blogger Camila Pavone of Westbury, New York, gives us her tips for making those visits less overwhelming and more productive.

TIP #1 – Pay attention to the time you go. 

Camila recommends getting there early if you want to get first dibs on what is out, particularly for flea markets. To get the best possible deal, however, she says it’s better to go on the later part of the day on the day the flea market is ending. No vendor wants to drag home heavy items so it’s the ideal time to negotiate.

TIP #2 – Give yourself a budget and stick to it.

With so much to see, it is easy to become distracted by everything that catches your eye. Camila advises keeping your focus and only purchasing what you really like.

TIP #3 – Be prepared to walk away.

Some vendors will work with you on pricing, but when they know they have something that can be sold at their ticket price on eBay or Etsy, they probably aren’t going to budge. If it’s something you love, take a picture and do some online shopping. You may find it elsewhere for a much better price.

TIP #4 – Do your research!

“I will always search online when I’m at a booth and ready to purchase something to see if they are offering a good price,” Camila said. “You don’t want to pay $40 for a brass animal that sells for $18 on Etsy.” It’s important to know an item’s value when you are bartering.

TIP #5 – Make a shopping list.

When you have hundreds of vendors at a venue, it’s easy to quickly become overwhelmed. Camila said her personal shopping list is always the same: “Ginger jars, anything Lucite, elephants, vintage entertaining pieces like trays, ice buckets, glassware, milk glass, and unique furniture pieces that need a little TLC.”

TIP #6 – Talk to vendors and grab business cards.

“If I find a booth I really love then I want to make sure I can find them again,” Camila said. Some vendors specialize in certain items like vintage rugs or glassware, so get on their mailing list and follow them on social media to know when new stock arrives. Let them know what you’re looking for too – they may have a suggestion.

TIP #7 – Collections are key!

“If you aren’t sure what you want to purchase at a flea market, I find that starting a collection is always fun,” Camila said. Her love for flea markets started with a passion for everything milk glass. “I have a massive collection and I love growing it.” That makes your game plan for shopping a little more focused too.  

TIP #8 – Enjoy it!

For Camila, her husband and two young sons, they make a day at the flea market a family affair. “We call it treasure hunting, and we give our kids a budget when they go. It makes them excited and keeps us all moving when everyone is tired.” She recommends a rolling cart or wagon to help carry your purchases as you continue to shop. And take cash as not all vendors can accept credit cards.

Camila finds it fun to get out and walk around, even if you’re just window shopping. “I love having things that are different and have a story behind them. Going to a flea market and getting to find treasures that will get to live a whole new life in my house brings me so much joy!” she said.

Keep these tips in mind the next time you go thrifting to ensure a successful, stress-free trip. To read Camila’s complete blog, visit Effortless Style Interiors.

Check out one of Camila’s DIY projects, featured here on Woodcraft.com: DIY Caned Headboard

All photos courtesy Effortless Style Blog.

You can find a lot of fun ideas on repurposing your vintage finds in Sue Whitney's book Junk Beautiful, available at your local Woodcraft store or online. 

We hope you'll be inspired!

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