Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Antiquing and Vintage Shopping Today

The world of antiques, antique shops and various antiquing venues has changed rapidly in the last decade or so.  Long gone are the days when I could hop in my car and drive to my former hometown to visit the shops I patroned on a regular basis, when I first started collecting for our home.  All of the antique shops along Kings Highway are no longer there, and the same goes for so many of the shops on "Antique Row" in Center City, Philadelphia. 

Recently, I took a small trip into the city with a dear friend of mine from Washington, and we began a discussion about antiques, antiquing and everything vintage.  I lamented the fact that so many antique shops were now out of business along a stretch of road that was famous for them.  The shop owners that were so passionate about their hordes of fine china, glassware, silverware, linens, furniture and garden ornaments, have packed up and moved out.

Tureens from my antique ironstone collection.
The economy, shrinking 401ks, reality television, changes in the lifestyle magazine world, and the ever-growing popularity of those mega stores selling ultra-cheap, imported wares, have all had a hand in what the antiques world faces today.

With more and more vendors finding it easier and better for their bottom line to 'set up shop' online, brick and mortar antique/vintage stores are slowly becoming things of the past.  I do shop online via eBay, Etsy and Rubylane for some of the things that I like, but there is something about being able to see, feel, judge and make a purchasing decision in person, on the spur of the moment.  There is always peace of mind from buying something vintage or antique in person, because one doesn't have to worry about potential shipping mishaps, which do happen (it's maddening!) from time to time.

I understand wanting to own new pieces of furniture that don't require delicate treatment, or having a brand new set of inexpensive dinnerware, glassware and silverware that can get put in the dishwasher. It's absolutely convenient.  However, I find that there is an ineffable beauty in owning antiques and using vintage items throughout one's home, which can't be mimicked with something new. 


Even though I have contemporary housewares that get used often, there is nothing like using something antique or vintage on a dining table or having beautiful, old objects in various rooms throughout the house.  I get more pleasure out of setting a beautiful table with vintage or antique items that have a history, than I would if I were to use items from the "world markets".  I know I'm not alone when I say that I collect antique and vintage items because it makes me happy.  It's what I've grown to like and admire.  

The value that we attach to our vintage pieces and antique treasures, whether they're picked up at a shop or passed down to us through the generations, is quite subjective.  An old object may or may not have much market value, but the sentimental importance that we affix to said object, can be priceless.   

If I happen to be visiting a town or city outside of my area, I make it a habit of mapping out where the antique shops, consignment shops and Goodwill stores are located.  I also like to know if there are any scheduled flea markets and antique fairs in the area, because those can attract a large amount of vendors.  In fact, I'll be going to some in the next couple of weeks!

When shopping for or selling antiques and vintage items, it's imperative to know and understand the differences between the two.  Inside the trade, experts state that any object which is over 100 years old is considered an "antique".  The term "vintage" refers to items that are between 50-100 years old.  It's not uncommon, though, to see these terms used loosely by vendors, especially if they're unaware of what they have.  It is your job, as a collector, to know what's what.  


Have you ever attended the world's largest yard sale that is over 600 miles long?  It will be taking place in less than a month, and I know of a couple of people who may travel down this route for their vintage shopping.  From the photos I've seen in the past, it is quite the adventure picking through what is out there.  Click here for more information. 

Are you still antiquing these days?  Do you make an effort to visit flea markets and antique shows like I do?  What about tag sales, estate sales and yard sales? Shopping for old items is something that I will never tire of.  I hope that many of you continue to admire and collect the vintage and the antique for years to come.

6 comments:

  1. Thank you, thank you David! As the owner of a shop that sells everything from new, artisan made pieces to 18th century antiques I just love and appreciate this post :) I have a 4000 sq ft space in CT and also rent space to just 9 very talented merchants who scour the world for wonder vintage and antique treasures. In September another shop and I host Repurpose Happiness Vintage and Maker market in Chester, CT., all for the love of antique and handmade!
    Thank you again for this wonderful post!
    Jayne
    ChalkMercantile.com

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    1. You're welcome Jayne!!! I've been meaning to write this post for a long time, so I'm glad it's out there now. I wish you continued success in your fantastic business!! Xo

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  2. I love the hunt for treasures, whether that means an antique shop, Goodwill or garage sale. I do buy things from eBay, Etsy, and other sites, but nothing takes the place of in-person shopping. You never know what unexpected treasure is waiting around the next corner!

    Your ironstone is lovely, by the way.

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    1. Hear, hear! You're exactly right Christine. Nothing beats being able to shop in person for anything vintage or antique. It's the thrill of the hunt for us collectors.

      Happy shopping!

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  3. I am so fortunate to live where there are plenty of antique shops. Now, OKC does not have the antiques that a place like Atlanta or Boston does, but it is rare for even the small towns not to have a place to treasure hunt. My passion is antique linens and dishes. I love books, but to say I only have antique books would be mistaken as I read everything. But, I am always on the lookout for antique classic literature, gardening books, and poetry.

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    1. Wow, Lori, that's great! I've never been to Oklahoma City, but now that I know antiquing is alive and well there, maybe I should.

      Enjoy shopping for your vintage treasures!

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