It is the thrill of the vintage treasure hunt.
The boxes and bins and old garden sheds full of who knows what you are going to find when you start sorting through. Summer is prime flea market and garage sale season- and there are so many treasures just waiting to be found.
Shopping flea markets and yard sales for those elusive perfect treasures…
I have furnished quite a bit of our house and cottage with vintage – and quite a bit of vintage that was just a handful of dollars. I am definitely a bargain shopper- but I will pay more for something unique or that is a must have when I find it.
So what do you do when there are no yard sales or flea markets that week- or you just need something very specific for right now? You shop online sources- my favorite is craigslist.
And the other day when I was searching the ‘list’ for a few bistro chairs- I bumped into a listing for these.
A set of cane dining chairs & settee.
Something you might not know about me… I have a chair addiction. It is right up there with my addiction to flowers, all things chippy with old patina and history and anything and everything French.
My husband used to laugh at me for always finding a random chair somewhere that I ‘needed.’ and those chairs would be refashioned in the perfect fabric for the bedroom or living room.
And I have a huge soft spot for vintage cane chairs.
So yeah, I was emailing the seller.
When we got to their house to take a peek at them- I basically was already handing over the cash and loading them in the truck.
These are a few photos while grabbing them- they actually had cushions that were not so fabulous and sometimes if you have a bit of vision- you can see more of what something could look like with a few tweaks. I will share a detailed post about these chairs along with where they end up soon- but today I wanted to share a few of my tips for shopping online for vintage.
I tend to spend a bit of time perusing craigslist with coffee in hand in the morning. Though it is a little less exciting than rummaging through boxes in the middle of an old barn- it is thrilling even so.
What to search
I search broad things like ‘vintage’ ‘french’ ‘farmhouse’ ‘antique’ and if I am looking for something specific I search that as well. For these chairs- I searched ‘French vintage’ and they popped up.
And also search…
Other spellings, misspellings and ‘common’ names as well as unique. Do you know how many times I have found amazing pieces by searching the wrong spelling? A Fireplace ‘Mantel’ is a perfect example. A lot of people list it as a ‘Mantle’ which is something completely different. As well, less common names for something- the French cafe chairs I was looking for were ‘bentwood chairs’ some people call those ‘bendy’ wood chairs, curved wood or even just cafe chairs- though they would technically be ‘Thonet Bentwood Chairs’
What to ask the seller Before looking in person
I ask several things right away- are there any issues, broken pieces, age and history and has the item been stored in a smoke free environment.
If it has been in a smoke environment – it is an upholstered piece- that is a stop. Even wood pieces soak up that smell and residue but upholstered pieces are a pretty definite no.
If it has damage
Make sure you can use it or fix it as it is- or negotiate a price that works for getting it fixed- or walk away. Especially if it is furniture. Things like broken legs on a chair are not going to be a good thing if they are unable to be repaired. Even if it is just a ‘for looks’ chair- you don’t want to have to string a piece of caution tape across to keep guests from sitting in it. (total joke- but you know what I mean) So I avoid bringing home things that have issues that prevent them from being safe.
To Negotiate- or not
The question… to negotiate or not. It depends on several things. How much do Have to have the piece? Are you feeling good about the asking price- or are you feeling like it is a bit too high? I often will ask if the price is flexible ahead of seeing the item in person- and see what they say. In this case- they were happy to lower the price if I knew I wanted the chairs. I did- and so we had a deal before I had even seen them in person. Because, even with that fabric on them shown in the ad- I knew they were perfect.
A key to making sure you bring those treasures home with you- don’t wait to reply to the ad, don’t negotiate and then be a flake on picking them up and don’t offend the seller. If a price is off by a little bit- maybe decide to get over it or respectfully ask about their best price. If it is off by a TON- you run the risk of offending by low balling- in that case- I recommend expressing interest and then watching the ad to see if they drop the price.
I love the charm and character they have and we used them last week for a few quick photos right after picking them up. I will share more about where they land soon.
And if you have any other tips for shopping vintage- please share in the comments!
Happy treasure hunting!!