Antique? Are You Sure? Maybe!

8 Jan

I have looked for chair to replace (for my desk) and have not seem to find anything I liked.  Until, someone told me to check out this thrift store near in town!  Well, I found an art deco “like  tufted chair, which I’d loved and this sales person tells me it’s selling for $450.00!!!!!!  I said, let me go outside; for I must not be in the right store!   Yep!  It said thrift shop!  Could you please tell me, why did this sweet lady think I must pay $450.00 for this chair, which is used, which is in a not so flattering teal color; and has a problem in the springs? Why?  Why?

She says it has its original wood and frame, for they don’t make these type of chairs anymore.   Ok?  I said to myself  <How do you know that, did it say this when delivered to the store?>”  She then said, that is it so heavy that it has to be an ORIGINAL!

Well, by no means was I going to stand there and debate with her that the price she was quoting was way too much money and she needed to sell the item for $200.00, because that was all I was willing to pay, but it in actuality if I was at Home Goods or Marshalls,  the average shopper would be looking for a price around $150.00 <maybe less>!   So then she said to me,$400.00!  I looked to my left, then my right…Oh she’s talking to me!  LOL

She said the price as I would think it was great, but I would consider  no more than $200.00; for I was thinking about the upholstery costs, if I was going to buy it.

In pure disappointment,  I said perhaps I can talk to your manager!  After summoning the manager, he was not going to budge in the price at all; after I told him that this chair was not an antique! LOL  The reason the chair was so heavy, is because of the MDF board used to make it, called particulars of wood and resin… was used to construct the chair (I flipped it over and it didn’t say Versace!).    “Where am I”, I said to myself, no chair today…maybe next time.

When shopping at thrift stores, it ‘s a known place where used furniture  items are sold.   There are items which should be priced low and items which should be priced based on their value, if the seller happens to knows its real worth; yes …there will be some high-priced items.   There are some items which may come from an estate and believe me, before anything that goes on the floor to sell, there is some investigative work going on!  The bigger the item, the higher the price.  The item can be tagged with a  certain price and the seller is hoping that the consumer considers the item as an antique or treasured item.  Don’t get me wrong, there definitely are items which are antique and they are such great, great finds!

Before buying, please do your own homework.  Highly priced items don’t move as quickly, so you can leave and come back perhaps the following day, if your research shows the items is worth the price quoted.  Your research can be done right in the store, if you have a cell phone with internet, search right there and get your answers; but also keep in mind some preparation steps:

  1. Before entering the store, place the amount you are willing to spend (cash) in an envelope.  Pull this envelope out and refer to it for your spending and only show the envelope when purchasing, avoid your wallet.  If no cash, set the limit in your mind of how much you are going to spend on your credit card.
  2. If the item is furniture, stand back and take an overall look at it.  Turn it over too!
  3. Has the furniture worn where you might expect, like on the arms of a chair? If the wear is in places that normally wouldn’t be harshly used over time, you may want to ask questions.
  4. Originals are not perfect.  If you find a chair or item where the detail is precise, it may be a copy.
  5. Utilize the internet to get information on the design, period and most of all how many were produced.
  6. Tap on wood, if it has a hollow sound, you have a faux piece.
  7. Pay as little as you possibly can!’  Never, never, never  take the first price. Be ready to haggle; then haggle again.  The more effort you put in, the more rewarding it gets.  You know what you are willing to spend.
  8. You don’t have to buy at the first visit, you come back periodically to see if the price is reduced (sometimes).
  9. Bring someone with you, a person who you trust their judgement…basically will give their honest opinion before a buy.
  10. Make sure you plan on visiting several shops, because at this juncture you are merely becoming acquainted with certain shops and dealers as well as their offerings. The first thing you must learn to do is use your observation ability. You should always walk into the shop with a cynical mindset. This means you must always question, in your thoughts, the authenticity of a piece.
  11. Until your eye tells you otherwise, you must continue to doubt the genuineness of the article in question. After you have walked the length of the shop, turn around and review your findings.  If you have not found anything interesting enough to buy, there is no more to do but exit the store.

I just don’t want any of you going to a thrift and be told the item is an antique and in actuality it’s just a nice chair; a highly priced nice chair!   Now there will be some great things, if you see an item and  you really, really like it.. .then buy it.  If it’s an antique, just be sure that it is!  Be a smart shopper!  An antique seller could be a mall owner, shop owner, mall booth dealer or another kind of dealer in the industry, so they should be able to give you their credentials.

Say it’s not a thrift shop, but you entering an antique shop. The owner should be able to tell you an item’s origin and why it is an antique.  While sometimes in thrift stores, there may be a chance the item may well indeed be an antique, because you know it and they (thrift shop) have no clue.  Or even if they have an antique reproduction:

  • Take for example, if there is a chair which was originally made in the 18 century and there were only 150 made.   If a craftsman decides to make a reproduction of the chair, same wood, same design and style, then it is an antique reproduction.  Often times if the original item is available the asking price is very high.  Where the antique reproduction price may be lower, but it depends on the time period in which the reproduction was built and how many were made.  In an antique shop, the owner is very aware of their collections.
  • Were you aware, when a Hollywood movie is being filmed in a specific time period; often set designs call for the furniture to correspond to the era.  Authenticity is keyed to most movie directors and antiques are often featured as part of a storyline.   In some instances, original pieces are sort out by consignment or an antique reproduction is requested; leaving antique owner very proud of their collections at hand and the exposure.
I hope this information is helpful!  Remember your journey should be fun and rewarding!  More curious?  For beginners there are many books on antiquing and thrift shopping; check  local book store or on-line at a book site like www.amazon.com.  And, oh by the way, I’m still looking for a chair!

Letia 🙂

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