10 Little-Known Antiquing Tips to Score the Best Deals

Keep these handy hacks in mind next time you hunt for treasure in antique shops.

Published August 3, 2023


Browsing among the antiques is easy, but scoring a great deal on that perfect piece takes some serious skill. We've got the hacks you need for antiquing success - from how you enter the store to what you should bring with you. Get ready to find the best antiques and negotiate the lowest prices.

Go Antiquing in Towns With a Faded Glory


You know those towns that have beautiful historic charm but maybe passed their heyday a few decades ago? If you're like us, you already love those places, and they are your best bet when it comes to antiquing. Think towns with gorgeous architecture but some peeling paint.

These towns are still vibrant and wonderful, but people might not always think to go there to shop. The secret is they sometimes offer a treasure trove of collectibles and antiques you can't find anywhere else.

Master the First Pass of Antique Shopping


When you walk into an antique store, you might be tempted to start picking things up right away. That's not the way to make the most of your time or get the best deal, though. Instead, master the art of the first pass.

Walk through the entire store without touching anything, noting things that look interesting. Then come back to the front of the store and start again. This time, you can really shop. You'll waste less time picking things up and putting them down, and you're way more likely to find what you want.

Look to the Left


Think about how you usually enter a store when you go antiquing. If you turn to the right and begin browsing, you're like most people, according to some retail theorists. This means that one way to find some deals that others don't is to go left instead.

Quick Tip

This is also true for individual booths in an antique mall. Switch up the way you enter the booth, looking to the left first. You might be surprised how much more you see!

Look Up Sold Values Every Time You Shop


The price someone asks for something isn't always what that item is worth, and veteran antique shoppers know to check those prices for themselves. Even if you're familiar with what you're considering buying, a quick check of recent sale prices is always a good bet.

This is super easy these days, since you always have your phone with you. Just look up recent sales of that same item in similar condition on auction sites and see if the asking price makes sense. Knowing what something is worth is super important.

Quick Tip

On eBay, look up recent sale prices by clicking "Advanced" and typing in the item you're interested in. Click "Sold Items" and see what comes up.

Learn to Spot Condition Issues That Can Score You a Deal


Speaking of antique values, condition is a pretty gigantic factor in how much a lot of things are worth. If you can see what's wrong with something, you can point this out to the dealer and maybe negotiate a lower price.

If you see something you like when you're antiquing, take a few minutes to look it over. And we mean carefully. Check the surface for scratches, chips, and nicks. Look for missing parts. Antiques are usually sold "as is" (they're old and used, after all), but if you point out the condition issues, you have a leg up in the negotiations.

Try to Bargain (Politely)


Although negotiating isn't a thing at all antique stores, it's kind of a hidden secret at most places. Sure, there's a price tag, and it means something. But it never hurts to ask the shop whether this is their "best price."

Don't be pushy, though, and don't lowball the seller. Big-ticket items have more room for negotiation than little things, and you shouldn't expect to drop more than 10% off the prices.

Ask About Sale Days


If you regularly go antiquing in a certain area or frequent some of the local shops, take the time to ask if they ever have sale days. Many antique malls and stores have monthly or seasonal sales to help move some of the merchandise. Knowing when these are is super handy and can help you get a great deal.

Remember That Cash Really Is King


Ready for a little-known antiquing hack that's super easy to do? Carry cash. Yup, it's that simple.

Shops and sellers have to pay a fee for credit card transactions, and they can skip this fee if you pay in cash. That gives you some extra bargaining power, especially on big-ticket items or the most valuable antiques.

Don't Wait to Buy It if You Love It


You know that moment when you're antiquing and feel that zing of spotting something amazing? Pay attention to that. While you probably can't have everything you love, it's good to make a move if you see something really great.

Antique shop inventory changes all the time, especially when it comes to super special pieces. If you wait to get it, you might return the next day and find it gone. You don't have to jump on everything, but if it's really cool and fits your budget, don't wait.

Pack an Antique Shopping Kit


In addition to having your phone handy to look up values and carrying cash to get some great deals, one great antiquing hack is to carry a shopping kit. Here's what we keep in ours:

  • Wish list of antiques we want
  • Tape measure
  • Wet wipes
  • Photos of rooms in our homes
  • Bottled water

Use Antiquing Hacks to Enjoy the Hunt Even More


Antiquing is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon, and with a few handy hacks, you can get some absolutely amazing deals. Keep these tips in mind and don't forget to have fun too. After all, part of the joy is in the hunt!

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10 Little-Known Antiquing Tips to Score the Best Deals