7 tips for Sourcing Vintage Furniture and Antiques Online

While there is nothing quite like the hunt at a Sunday estate sale, or antiques market, there are absolutely added benefits to shopping and sourcing antiques and vintage homewares digitally. For one, you never have to lug the actual item home with you – which will delight your chiropractor. It also affords you the luxury of taking time to think about a purchase without having an impatient dealer rattle you over a game of haggling. For those interested or new to online sourcing, below are several things to keep in mind before checking out.

1. Do Your Research
Gone are the days of information scarcity. While it can feel overwhelming, the wealth of knowledge provided by the internet equips the casual furniture buyer and amateur antique collector with a multitude of sources for researching prospective goods before buying – or bidding. When considering purchasing antiques or collectibles online, be sure to investigate similar items on other sites. Prices from previous auctions are often available. Be sure to check out smaller auction houses, for more obscure collectibles.

2. Don’t be Intimidated
While it may feel intimidating to make purchases online, outside of the suggestion of a trusted dealer or interior designer, over time, and through consistent browsing of websites like eBay and 1st Dibs, you’ll get a feel for both what you like and dislike, as well as handy details like how rare an item really is, which can help you decide whether it’s worth its listed price.

3. Know Your Limits
It’s helpful to avoid potential buyer’s remorse by setting a price cap prior to bidding on online auction sites. This takes the element of emotion and impulse out when the stakes are high at the end of a sale. It might feel good in the moment to win out against your competitor, but you’re liable to overspend in the final moments.

4. Pay Attention to Fine Print and Hidden Fees
An auction estimate may often look too good to be true and it may just be. Keep in mind that online auction sites often take additional fees calculated after the sale. Other things to remember are potential taxes or tariffs, especially when buying internationally. Finally, always check shipping rates prior to making a purchase; they can at times be significantly more expensive than the item itself.

5. Location, Location, Location
As mentioned, being aware of crating or shipping fees is extremely important. Always check to be sure the item you’re after is available for shipping and not local pick-up only. This can be a headache of a mistake to make, especially when the pickup location calls for a road trip to Arkansas. Local pick-up only can also be to your benefit, however. Frequently items that are pick-up only can be discounted to account for the added inconvenience of retrieval, which means if you have a car or can take an Uber XL to get there, it may be worth the extra legwork.

6. Be a Loyal Customer
Chances are, if you like one item a seller has on offer, you’ll like more. Sites like eBay and 1st Dibs make it easy to save and follow sellers or dealers you enjoy, and can even be configured to send push notifications next time they add more to their online collections.

7. Get Use Out of Your Tape Measure – And Double Check
Although seemingly obvious, it is so important to actually measure the amount of space the physical item will take up in your home before committing.  Online images can be extremely deceiving in terms of size, and what appears large may in fact not be so substantial compared to your existing furniture, and vice versa. Always measure the true dimensions. You can use painter’s tape to mark out a silhouette, or even place a sheet down in the dimensions of the new piece of furniture, to help to visualize if it fits its surroundings appropriately. Also – Always measure door frames, as well as turns in hallways if the item needs to take a trip upstairs.

Written by Nikki Stracka

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