Maybe you love vintage items from the past – clothing, furniture, collectibles, household goods, and more.
But where are the best places to shop for REAL, authentic vintage? Not the “repop” or reproductive, “vintage look”, mass-produced products found in local home and craft stores – but the REAL DEAL authentic vintage! Pieces with a past, a history. With a soul. With character, style, and grace.
Let me get you started with these places to shop…
#1 Your Parent’s Basement
Well, okay. So you’re not actually shopping in your parents basement, but trust me – they’ve got good stuff! They may still have unused or seldom used wedding gifts sitting in boxes. Old books they no longer read. Maybe your Mom’s first dinner dress. All you have to do is ask them! Not only are you helping them clear things out that they no longer need or want, you are reusing something that belonged to them, and that is pretty darn cool.
#2 Garage or Yard Sales
When the weather is right, garage and yard sales can be a great source for vintage cast-offs! These kinds of sales are usually held over the weekends, so make a day of it and map out all the sales in your area, then hit the road! Garage and yard sales typically have the best prices on vintage items, and you can often find quality furniture at these sales. Keep an open mind when shopping – there are always lots of opportunities to recycle and re-purpose things you find.
* TIP: Make sure to read my article “10 Tips for Shopping Yard Sales” for some easy and unique tips to make your shopping fun (and productive)! That article also includes apps you can use to find garage and yard sales.
#3 Thrift Stores
Thrift stores, charity stores, and church stores are another great source for vintage items. The prices are generally very affordable and the inventory is always changing. I find that shopping thrift stores on a Tuesday tends to be the best day, as lots of people bring in their donations over the weekend and the store staff has had time to sort through and place the inventory for sale by Tuesday. One of the keys to successful thrift store shopping is to visit often, as their inventory is constantly changing.
* TIP: The location of the thrift stores can really make a difference in the types of things you will find. Sometimes the stores in more affluent neighborhoods have the best high-end items. Small town thrift stores often have the best prices.
#4 Flea Markets
Flea markets can be such a fun source for vintage! Vendors bring their items for sale, set up tables or tents, and then it’s up to you to find the treasures among all the items available. It really does feel like a treasure hunt! Some vendors have prices on their items, others do not – and that’s where the fun begins! When you find something you like, ask the seller how much they want, make a counter-offer and haggle until you are both satisfied with a price.
* TIP: Make sure to read my article “Flea Market Gear – What To Bring On Your Shopping Trip” to make your shopping day a success.
#5 Estate Sales
Searching through the homes of other people during an estate sale can be an exciting way to find vintage items. Estate sales usually take place when the homeowner is moving or (regrettably) has passed away. Estate sales held in older homes often have the best vintage. Prices on vintage items are generally affordable, though oftentimes more expensive that items offered at a garage or yard sale. Some home owners have years worth of collectibles, furniture, linens, tools, clothing, and so much more. Estate sales are generally held on weekends, and the earlier you arrive, the better chance you have of finding the best items.
* TIP: I wrote an article “12 Tips to Shopping Estate Sales” that will help you.
Ah… the thrill of an auction! Some auctions are held on a regular basis inside an auction house, while other auctions are held onsite at the property whose items are being auctioned off – either inside or outside. Make sure you register upon arriving at the auction and preview as many item/lots as possible so you know what you want to bid on. Set a budget and then get ready to bid! Auctions often have “boxed lots” of items. You may only want one or two things from that box, but when you bid on it, the entire contents is yours. Because of this, you might often end up with more items than you want or need, but anything you don’t want can be donated to a thrift store (see number #3 above) for someone else to appreciate.
* TIP: I wrote an article on “12 Tips for Shopping an Auction” that will help you get started.
#7 Facebook Marketplace
Many people know about Facebook Sales Groups, but less people know about the fairly new Facebook Marketplace. Facebook Marketplace is a great source for finding vintage items near you. To use the Marketplace, you must use Facebook on your phone, as it is only available on Facebook mobile. To get started, click the Marketplace icon at the bottom center of the Facebook screen. From there you can Sell, Browse Categories, Search for items, or view Your Items you’ve listed for sale. One thing I do is perform a general search for “vintage”. Just type the word “vintage” into the search box and tap Search. You can specify the distance by tapping on your location and then drag the map to choose the location to search, and how far from that location to search. Once you save that location, each time you access the Facebook Marketplace, it will remember your selection. Scroll through the random assortment of items with the keyword “vintage” and you never know what you will find! You can also use the Categories menu to refine what you are looking for. When you find something interesting, tap on it to see the description and additional photos. You will also be able to see who is selling the item and where they are from. You can Message Seller through that page, or Make an Offer. It is then up to you and the seller to make arrangements to meet to complete the sale. I recommend you meet in a busy public place, such as a store or gas station parking lot. Bring the exact amount of cash needed to complete your purchase. What could be easier?
* TIP: Some of the items you will find using the Facebook Marketplace are free! I recommend you check the marketplace on a weekly basis to see what is available in your area.
Craigslist is a popular place to buy and sell pretty much anything, and it’s a fantastic source for finding vintage items. If you haven’t used Craigslist before, click on the link then choose your location (or the location nearest you). Once you choose your location, you will see a menu of all the various categories on Craigslist. If you are just browsing to see what is available, you could click on “Antiques” under the “For Sale” category. From there, you will see a photo list of items available, along with their prices, title description, and location. If you spot something you are interested in, click on it to read more about it and to see additional photos, if they are available. If you find something you would like to purchase, click the “REPLY” button to contact the seller. You will then need to make arrangements with the seller to meet somewhere to complete the purchase. As I mentioned in the tip for the Facebook Marketplace above, make sure to meet in a busy public place and bring the exact amount of cash to complete your purchase. There are many categories on Craigslist, so spend some time looking through them. You can also do a search for the exact item you are looking for by using the SEARCH box.
* TIP: Items on Craigslist change often! I make it a daily routine to check Craigslist at least once a day for any new and must-have listings.
#9 Free at the end of Driveways
Yes, I know. It feels weird (at least the first time) to stop at the end of someone’s driveway to pick through the items they’ve left there with a “FREE” sign. But trust me, you’ll get over that weird feeling really fast when you find a treasure you’ve been looking for! Of course, there is no easy way to find all the driveways near you that have things set in a free pile, but I recommend you keep your eyes open at all times when driving around your area and be prepared to stop abruptly when you spot those piles!
* TIP: Some people list their free items on local Facebook Sale Groups and sometimes on the Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist, so always search out those “free” categories!
* NOTE: Just because you see a pile at the end of someone’s driveway, don’t assume it’s there free for the taking. The owner may have placed the items there for someone else to pickup that they’ve already made arrangements with. If you don’t see a “free” sign, either ask the owner if the items are available, or skip that pile and move on to one with a clear “free” sign.
#10 Krrb / Apartment Therapy Marketplace
There is a relatively new online source for finding vintage items – it is called Krrb (as in “curb”). You can buy and sell items on Krrb locally or globally. Some sellers have the option to ship their items, other sellers require the items be picked up (much like with Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist). The items on Krrb sometimes tend to be higher-ticket items, but they may also be items you wouldn’t have found otherwise. Krrb is linked with Apartment Therapy Marketplace, so it’s always fun to see what items will pop up there. While you’re visiting, make sure to stop by my corner on Krrb at ThirdShift Corner!
#11 Etsy and eBay
Etsy and eBay are more sources for finding vintage items. Both have a search tool that you can use to find the item(s) you are looking for. When you purchase an item on Etsy, it is at a price set by the seller and you are purchasing directly through that seller. When you purchase on eBay, you may find items that are an auction type listing or items with a “Buy It Now” set price. Some items on eBay have a “Make An Offer” option where you can make an offer to the seller. Each platform clearly lists the shipping charges for these items, and where the item ships from. Both are global marketplaces. The items on Etsy tend to be slightly higher priced than eBay, but that is because the items are generally cleaned and researched for their value. Oftentimes on eBay, you can find great deals on vintage items, sometimes because the seller is just clearing out their home and wants to quickly sell. There are also plenty of quality eBay stores on the marketplace that are very similar to stores on Etsy. I recommend searching both platforms to see what is available. For a preview, please check out my Etsy shop at ThirdShift.
#12 Our Shop!
Like our shop website, ThirdShift Vintage, you can also find carefully selected and curated vintage items at stand-alone websites. Shopping at our website makes it a quick, one-stop shop when you are searching for something special. We’ve done all the leg-work of searching out and hand-picking the pieces we offer, carefully and painstakingly assessing their condition, and then make them available to people all around the world!
* TIP: A simple Google search will reveal lots of vintage shops on the internet. Keep in mind that some of the shops you find offer “vintage style”, “vintage like”, or “vintage reproductions” – but not real, authentic vintage items. Make sure you weed through those search results to find the REAL stuff!