Sally Schwartz, founder of Chicago’s acclaimed Randolph Street Market, shares tips below on how to shop vintage like a pro. In its 10th season, Randolph Street Market is, as you'll see in, a large and lively indoor/outdoor urban markets, unlike many traditional flea markets.
Here are Sally's 10 tips on shopping vintage:
1. Always bring CASH.
2. Remember, you can negotiate, but a lowball offer is likely to insult a dealer.
3. Give yourself plenty of time to peruse, shop, eat, people watch and take in the complete experience of an antique market.
4. When shopping for clothing, check the lining, zippers, buttons and cuffs for wear and tear. And, don’t forget to sniff the armpits! If a reputable dealer is selling the item, all garments will have been cleaned thoroughly and repaired before being put out for sale.
5. Inspect items closely. Hold porcelain and glass up to the light for any fractures and cracks.
6. When buying art, look for a signature from the artist on the front and turn the piece over to the back if you can. New matting indicates someone with knowledge has re-framed and invested in the piece already.
7. Experiment. Buy that funky piece that catches your attention, whether it is a pair of antlers to add to a picture wall, or a beret to pair with items you already own.
8. When buying furniture, make sure you like the frame. You can always get a piece reupholstered. Don’t judge by the fabric — it’s replaceable!
9. Buy in pairs. If there are two chairs, two lamps, etc… buy them both. Never single one out! Vintage jewelry and watches are hot sellers at the Market.
10. When buying jewelry, look closely to see if the stones are missing and if all the stones match. Check each piece for the stamp, "sterling" or the "925" mark, which indicates silver content. Keep in mind, fixing a vintage watch so that it runs could cost $300 or more, so make sure you’re up for the investment.
l to r: Sally Schwartz, Randolph Street Market Founder, Kevin Bruneau and Sarah Watson Jones, Randolph Street Market Event Manager