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A Treasure Hunt through Time: Antique Shopping 101


If you’ve found you’re already getting bored with your summer, try getting your friends together to do something new. One of my favorite things to do with girlfriends is to drive out to neighboring small towns and go antiquing for a day. You’d be surprised at the amount of things one can find at an antique mall. While it’s not usually at the top of people’s list of places to go when shopping, I have found some of my favorite accessories there. It takes time and patience to sort through the piles of vintage jewelry, but more often than not you will come out with something super cute and affordable too. Plus nobody else will have it!

Here are a few tips to make your first antiquing experience a successful one!

  1. Be patient. You might have to go to a few shops before you find one that has the types of things you like. Some stores carry mostly furniture, while others have an assortment of clothes and jewelry and other fun things from the past. Thankfully they are usually grouped together so you can make it to all of them in one trip!
  2. Wander around. I rarely go to an antique store looking for one specific item. There are just too many different things being sold. Take your time looking in the cases. Even if you aren’t going to buy something, it’s fun to look at the different (sometimes bizarre) things people have saved over the years. You might even find a great Fathers’ Day gift! (Hint: check the Life magazines from the years in which your dad grew up)
  3. Ask for help. Antique stores have a huge amount of items that come from an assortment of vendors, each of whom sells different types of things. If you’re looking for something specific, or a piece of a certain style, ask someone in the store. They will probably be able to point to you in the right direction based on what types of things the different vendors sell. Remember to stay open-minded though. There are so many different things sold at these places, and part of the fun is having to hunt until you finally find the treasure for which you’ve been looking.
  4. Check the quality. Occasionally you will find something that is broken or torn in some way. Remember that everything in the store is old, so be sure that what you’re buying is going to last.
  5. Compare prices. Usually antique stores have lower prices than online sites like eBay, but just in case do a quick search on your phone to see if you can find the item cheaper.
  6. Negotiate. Bargaining is okay, but make sure you are polite. Tell the seller how much you are willing to pay and let them take the next step. If it is in fact true, point out that you found the thing you’re looking to buy somewhere else for a better price. Many times things in antique shops have been sitting there for months, so the vendors are eager to sell them.

Some of my favorite pieces of jewelry came from vintage shops!

It’s not just jewelry you can find either. There are tons of vintage Barbie dolls (including a Ken doll sporting a tiny ND sweater) and a lot of sports memorabilia.

Julia is a junior IT Management major from Minneapolis. When she isn't making spreadsheets in Excel, Julia can usually be found perusing antique shops, redecorating her dorm room, or speaking with a beautiful Minnesotan accent.
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