Vintage Furniture Shopping Tips and Tricks

Phoenix is just about the best place to live between the months of November and April. The weather here right now is gorgeous. But beside the perfect winters, the vintage furniture shopping is pretty great and affordable. This pair of vintage Henredon sofas was my most recent purchase. $80 for the pair! The coral Brunschwig…

Phoenix is just about the best place to live between the months of November and April. The weather here right now is gorgeous. But beside the perfect winters, the vintage furniture shopping is pretty great and affordable.

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This pair of vintage Henredon sofas was my most recent purchase. $80 for the pair! The coral Brunschwig and Fils fabric is in almost perfect condition too. I’ve got just the right spot for these after they get a good deep cleaning with my favorite upholstery cleaner and my steamer (and after I pull off the skirts!).

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Here are a few other recents finds and some of my tips for scoring the good stuff:

Being a successful vintage shopper has a lot to do with frequency – if I have two free minutes when I’m passing a thrift store, I’ll always pop in and make a beeline for the furniture section.

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After a couple of years of hardcore thrifting I can usually speed read a store and I’ll only need a few seconds to see if there’s anything good. And really, is there anything better than spotting something really, really great from the front of the store? I’ve been known to break into a full sprint on occasion. :)

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This one is no secret, but if you know a part of your city where a lot of senior citizens live, you’ll probably find some of the best vintage shopping around.

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(a good sign I was shopping in the right neighborhood!) :)

If you’re lucky enough to live in Florida (as any search for anything vintage on eBay will quickly tell you), you’re going to be swimming in midcentury beauties.

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Arizona has a great retirement-age population, so the vintage shopping here is not lacking, but I’ve been able to find these pockets of older-generation communities in every city we’ve lived in over the past ten years. There are so many great deals to be had everywhere!

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Some of my very best vintage furniture deals were found in rural Delaware and Pennsylvania. As it turns out, people lived and furnished their homes in the 50s, 60s and 70s there too! ;)

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The BEST trick I have up my sleeve though is to search for “used furniture stores” or “furniture consignment” plus your zip code on Google or Bing maps.

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Thrift stores are great, but the vast majority of the stuff you’ll find there now will be from the 90s and early 2000s. Antique stores can be amazing, but you’ll pay for the dealer’s eye which usually means a big mark up.

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I love eBay and Chairish and Craigslist for the times that I’m looking for something very specific that’s in great condition. Estate sales are also really awesome, but they can be a lot of work and sort of time consuming. I don’t do yard sales at all any more because they waste too much time and gas.

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Used furniture and consignment stores are where it’s at, friends. Don’t get me wrong. You’ll still see all sorts of junk at these places, but there will almost always be vintage treasures to be had at ridiculously low prices!

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One of my friends, who bought this great iron chair on a recent shopping trip together, is so smart and likes to say hello to whomever is working near the front or at the register of the store and then just sort of shoots the breeze for a minute with them. And then she asks in the nicest way if there are any special sales happening that day. She’s not being fake, she’s just being friendly. And friendly people get treated, well, like friends! I’ve been using her approach since then and, I kid you not, nine times out of ten the salesperson will give me a little price break when I’m checking out without me even asking for it, just to be nice. It’s amazing. Especially when you do as much thrifting and vintage shopping as I do – every 5 or 10% off really adds up! :)

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What are your tips and tricks for finding the best vintage furniture? Have you found any amazing deals lately?

Join the Conversation

74 thoughts on “Vintage Furniture Shopping Tips and Tricks

  1. So many amazing pieces! The hunt is one of my favorite things, but with little kids I don't have much room for it in this stage of my life. I look forward to the day when I can pop in and out of somewhere easily. :)

    I can't wait to see which of these pieces came home with you and what you did with them! Those couches are just beautiful and what a steal!

  2. Very interesting post.

    I'd add only that it takes a certain mentality to thrift well. People accustomed to regular retail shopping often don't know how to isolate in their mind each item in a second hand store, to judge it for itself minus the distracting surroundings. It's a combination of focus and imagination.

    I'm curious, as are others, about the bedbug, etc. infestations.

  3. i love thrifting – been doing it since i was a child. my mom would drag us with her to the salvation army and st. vincent de paul stores in flint, mi.. it is in my blood and i love it so much! my best latest find was my brass(ish) lamp for $6. popped a "returned" $7 nate burkus shade from target on in and bam! it was gorg :) thanks for the tips!

  4. Loved this post! I also live in the phoenix area and love love mid century furniture. I just moved into a larger home and am slowly putting my rooms together. Is there any chance that you would be willing to share a list of your specific favorite places to hit up? =)

  5. Wow!! posted nice post about furniture which I was finding since long time .Really helpful and attractive for all kind of furniture lover .Today furniture is one kind of fashion and beauty for home .Hey readers ,you also can get exceptional service to collecting your home accents , wall art and also tosh furniture from .

  6. I'm in FL & the best thrifting in my city is the hospice thrift store. The prices are sometimes a tad higher than they could be (but as each few weeks go by, they drop the price by a certain percentage).

  7. Hi Jenny! Question for you about all the furniture you buy… Do you ever worry about possible bugs or other yucky things you could bring into your home unknowingly on the furniture? Like what if the previous owner had a pet with fleas?? Or bed bugs? Maybe I just really hate bugs but I just wonder if you've ever had any problems.

  8. I live in ft lauderdale and I keep looking for good places to find mid century modern furniture and it's really hard. Even Good Will is a tip off. Not a lot of good deals, at least in my area.

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  10. Since the OP is out probably enjoying the sunshine I will comment–I have been thrifting and selling things both at auction and on line for 50 years or more. I have NEVER had a problem with bugs. I have not heard of anyone who HAS either and I am friends with a lot of people like me who do this for a living.

    IF you think there might be an issue tho I would suggest that you use common sense—you will have to treat these things with something and altho the BORAX and other natural insect repellants are good sometimes you do need a stronger chemical. Just TEST a hidden spot to make sure it does not affect the color or fabric or finish. You can also FREEZE or HEAT TREAT smaller items.

    Good Will is sadly a joke–leftovers and returns (broken) from Target priced HIGHER than Target. I live in Upstate NY and find the best places are the smaller places like your church stores—some have special places to hold furniture–if you don't see items–ask!–and local charity run thrifts. One near me in VT has a barn for furniture and over stock clothing—bulky stuff. Very reasonable. Their main building houses regular clothing ; books and household. Also consignment stores–altho the seller loses you gain.

    Forget places like Hudson—interesting but–too hipster with prices to match. I have seen–and bought—some good stuff at HABITAT REstore. 2 Broyhill lighted matching shelving units for $120 the pair. Now I do have a TRAILER and strong guys if needed so I can haul this stuff but—in almost any place LOWES rents trucks for a very reasonable fee. I think you can even reserve on line! If you decide to go into this stuff as a business invest in a Harbor Freight trailer—they fold to store!!!—and a hitch can be put on most cars. You are not hauling semi loads–yet! You can also rent storage places to work on this stuff and or rent a garage. Most just needs deep cleaning anyways. If you find that steal and don't have room—buy it clean it and re-sell it! Amazing what a few GOOD photos can do for you–most Craigslist pics are terrible if they bother to do a pic at all. On eBay the BUYER pays the freight charge and almost every place has some form of FOB (Freight On Board) carrier–Google is your friend here too. FedEx and UPS—can be used but mostly for smaller things. And generally more expensive too.

    For the smokey or icky smell in furniture–use COFFEE GROUNDS–place loose (Unused!!!) in the drawers for a few days. Or use straight real vanilla extract wiped all over. Or stuff the drawers or a trunk etc with black and white newspaper for a few days. I have tried Febreeze but–nope.

  11. Wow, I appreciate all of the tips you shared for getting a good deal on antiques. I like the tip that you gave about searching online with your zip code on google. I really like the look of the old style of these items and hope to get more like them. I will be sure to use these tips so that I can get the best cheap antiques.

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