It strikes me that those that love the vintage world do so because of a genuine passion – perhaps a passion for glamour, for classic style, for quality workmanship, for a security that essence of the past brings to our lives.
Vintagefrench.com was built on these passions. Arriving at a market stirs these emotions; the pulse quickens and my tummy flips in anticipation….
After 17 months of sourcing for vintagefrench.com I feel that my eyes take in everything… I scan every nook and cranny of the market stall, trying to be nonchalant; sometimes I buy there and then – if my find is an underpriced treasure, interesting to a whole raft of clients. Sometimes however I walk away, work out the sale price, transport costs, renovation costs, commissions, etc. and think very carefully about how the piece would work in a modern setting. It’s brutal out there; the criteria is high for each piece and not all pass the rigorous selection process.
Just sometimes I fall upon a piece that I just know I have to have and won’t give up. Our Finance Director (read Husband) isn’t so keen on these transactions, despite reaping the aesthetic benefits of them.
The main lessons I have learnt over the past number of months are as follows:
- Always negotiate on the price… even hesitate before responding (which I often do, whilst trying to translate the French numbers into English) the trader may take that hesitation, as a cue to start the negotiation process. A trader’s first price is never the final sale price. If you buy many things from one store holder, use that as a further negotiating tactic.
- Make sure that the piece is in good condition. Yes, the odd chip here and there can be overlooked in the main, but if wood, for instance, is rotten or riddled with woodworm, steer clear. It is simple to overlook, but that piece will be hot footing to the tip, if it starts shedding sawdust from the little mites.
- In an open air market, where the sky’s the limit, a piece may not look large, but get it home and you may find that it simply won’t fit. Take measurements of spaces in your home, including the height of your ceilings, along with a tape measure out and about with you so as to avoid costly mistakes.
- Consider how you will transport a piece home and how much it will cost. Once you have taken into account the cost of transportation, you may find your ‘bargain’ isn’t such a good deal after all.
- Upholstered pieces need to be carefully checked. If the frame to a chair, for instance, moves when you brace it, or the legs are split, the whole frame will require mending – costing a lot of money.
- Always know how much the cost of renovations to your ‘treasures’ will be before you buy them. Factor these costs into your total spend.
- Never, ever think about replacing original mirrors, however damaged they look. This will devalue the piece. As a rough indication of the age of the mirror section, putting your finger up against the mirror and seeing ‘how far’ the reflection is away, is a simple indication of an older mirror. Having said that DO NOT buy scratched mirrors. No, no, no!
On the other hand, some items are a ‘Coup de Coeur’ and the price just isn’t relevant. It’s important to be clear headed and know the difference.
Buy only what you love, don’t speculate. It’s not complicated. If you love a piece it will have a happy new home, and simply, what could be better than giving a beautifully crafted treasure a new and exciting chapter to its life?