15 May Country Living
7 Things You Need to Know Before Heading to a Big Antiques Market
Ever wonder why Joanna Gaines always gets the good stuff? Not anymore.
If I have to watch Joanna Gaines buy something amazing at an awesome antiques fair or cute little flea market one more time, I’m going to hurl something at my television. Somehow she always manages to find the farmhouse light that’s flawlessly busted, the grocery sign that’s worn in just the right way, the leather chair with an ideal butt indent. Is she gifted? Does she have access to things the rest of us don’t?
“It’s the antiques markets,” a friend told me. “They’re massive. They have everything. You have to go.” I saw Gaines hit up the Round Top Antiques Show in Round Top, TX, during one episode—and I decided that this was going to be the end-all, be-all. The Brimfield Antique Show, a similarly massive fair in Brimfield, MA, was coming up, so I made a plan to go.
I also made a list of my first-timer anxieties and ran them past my friend, Leanne Ford, star of the new HGTV show Restored by the Fords. Leanne has an eye for old stuff that rivals Gaines— and her interiors, which have been featured on tons of design sites (including the one you’re reading right now!), are jam-packed with worn-in treasures. She helped me come up with the perfect attack plan.
1 Get there early.
During your research, you’ll find that many antiques centers at these fairs open at dawn. If you’re like me, you’ll say, “Who the heck needs to be at this place at dawn?” And then, like me, you’ll be walking around during the late morning hours, looking at all the cool stuff with “SOLD” stickers on them, feeling a little like an idiot. I hit Brimfield at around 9:30 a.m., and could see that I had already missed the boat on some really good stuff.
“The early bird really does get the worm,” says Chris Goodman, who runs the antique shop Totally Bruce. “The good stuff goes quickly.” It’s true that if you’re looking for something really special or something that everyone else wants, you need to be first out of the gate.
2 Bring money.
You used to have to bring a giant wad of cash to these fairs in order to purchase anything. Now, every grandma with an antiques booth can use a credit card swiper attachment on her phone and dial right into 2017. That said, cash still carries a little more value: Some dealers are more apt to give you a good deal if they don’t have to pay a credit card fee. It’s worth asking how much better he or she can do if you pay with cash.
3 Get ready to negotiate.
Vendors have an expectation that people don’t want to pay ticket price—and everything is marked that way. “Look for the closest lower even number,” says Leanne. “For example if they say $120, they’ll most likely take $100.” She’s also been known to search for treasures on eBay or FirstDibs.com to see what real market value is before she even makes an offer.
I’m the world’s worst negotiator, but when I came across a $295 dresser for my son’s bedroom that I loved, I steeled up and offered $250. He took it, and I was unreasonably proud of myself. The bottom line is, you’re not insulting anyone by offering them something lower than what’s marked. “Everything is up for negotiation,” says Leanne. “And if it isn’t, you don’t want to work with them.”
4 But also be willing to pay.
Flea markets and antiques fairs were once places where you could find great deals on awesome stuff. But with the rise of shows like Fixer Upper and Gaines’ public penchant for other people’s old stuff, said old stuff is becoming much more expensive. “These markets are getting closer to retail prices,” says Ford.
But as people become more aware of the antiques culture—and as mainstream stores like Target and Cost Plus World Market emulate the popular vintage styles—vendors at these shows are going out of their way to bring pieces that are one-of-a-kind. “You aren’t going there for the deals—you’re going for the curated treasures,” Leanne says. After walking around and audibly gasping more than a few times, I realized that the stuff you see at these shows you won’t likely see again. The vendors know that, and they price their stuff accordingly.
5 Go often.
What’s amazing about these multi-day fairs is that you could go back every single day for five days straight and never see the same thing twice. The vendors do that on purpose: They come with a ton of stuff to last them multiple days, so each day is a new shopping adventure. Plus, “we’re always moving things around so that the stall looks new,” says Goodman. That means that a rug that was buried under four wooden crates before will get pushed to the top. It’s worth an overnight stay just to get to see a new sea of treasures.
What this also means is that vendors need to clear as much stuff out each day to make room for the other stuff they need to move in. So you should also …
6 Wait for the deals.
Mid-afternoon—roughly 3 p.m.-ish—is when a flurry of “DISCOUNTED!” tickets started popping up in excess. This is when vendors are trying to increase traffic to their booths, and they are willing to drop prices to do it. If you’ve been eyeing something, and it still hasn’t sold by the middle of the afternoon, your negotiating power has just increased tenfold: The vendor wants it out, and you need to strike.
7 Make it happen.
However, Leanne warns that if you fall in love with something and don’t buy it, there’s a chance you may never see it again. “If it’s perfect size, shape, color, and you can afford it, just do it,” she says. That’s all the enabling I need.Read Full Article