How to Buy Vintage on a Dime!

I love all things “real”. Wood, metal, stone, and glass beat out their plastic counterparts any day in my book! But because the vintage look is so popular right now, finding sturdy, well-made (non-plastic) furniture and decor is not always cheap. You might think you were shopping at Crate and Barrel or Pottery Barn for the prices that most vintage consignment shops are asking!

However, I’ve been lucky enough to stumble across lots of vintage items for free or very low cost – proving that 1) not everyone realizes the value of their vintage items and 2) it IS possible to buy durable furniture and decor that is full of character without paying the “retail” value that consignment shops are asking. The key is to shop slowly. Decorating on a budget is a whole different process than doing a flash HGTV makeover! It takes time to find pieces you love at reasonable prices… but the wait makes it even sweeter when you find what you are looking for.

Here are a few of my favorite places to rummage for vintage steals:

1) Estate sales & garage sales: I found these old suitcases at several different garage sales for a dollar or two each. If had bought them at a consignment shop? They would have cost me more like $40 each.


And these blue Ball jars were $3 at a garage sale…. $15 in the vintage store downtown.

2) Friends (and friends of friends): When my friend’s parents got new windows in their home, my friend jumped on their old windows – and offered some to anyone else who wanted them. Four vintage windows for nothing. I just found one just like mine in a vintage store for about $40.

3) Institutions: When we were in seminary, I noticed that their old locker rooms were still using these wire locker baskets. I asked if I could have a few (to store shoes in our entryway), and they gave several to me for free. A year later, when they decided to get rid of all of their lockers, they offered to give away even more… so I scored 8 locker baskets for nothing. I just saw one exactly like mine in a vintage store downtown for about $30.

4) “Free” piles: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure… it is so true! Someone put this cute old wicker rocker on their curb. I think it’s adorable! I can’t tell you how many items I have found like this. I even have a leather Fossil purse and a pair of Lucky jeans because someone else was throwing them away.

The moral of my story… shop slowly. My house is not “complete” yet – there are lots of spaces that are still waiting for an end table or a picture or a lamp. But I am in no hurry to fill those spaces. When they are filled I will be out of excuses to keep shopping around for vintage steals!

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