BY: KARLA SCARZAFAVA
Old stuff has always been a part of my life. My parents, as children of the Great Depression, saved everything in case they should need it in the future—my mother in particular.
From 1940s plastic parrots to the empty tin of Chase and Sanborn Coffee that “may have come in handy,” she stowed it all away like a squirrel preparing for winter. But don’t misunderstand me—not everything she saved was “junk,” and I still have many lovely heirlooms from her “collection” to this day (including that Chase and Sanborn coffee tin!).
I have a ton of stuff myself (like mother, like daughter), so it is rare that I seek something out to buy unless I just happen upon it. But I recently was assigned—ahem, inspired—and decided that it was time to check out some of what Gwinnett has to offer by way of antiques! I coerced my antique-loving coworker (easiest thing I’ve ever done, by the way) to go with me and off we went for an afternoon of antiquing.
Ally’s Antiques in Lawrenceville
Immediately upon arrival I was like a kid in a candy shop; I could hardly contain my excitement—there was just so much to look at! With many vendor booths to peruse, we took our time and wandered through them all on the hunt for interesting goodies. From antique glassware and vintage clothing to classic vinyl albums and repurposed furniture, it was an eclectic’s paradise.
The first thing to remember if you’re new to antiquing is that the internet is your best friend! The ability to research anything at your fingertips is an invaluable tool, allowing you to compare prices, establish value, browse photos, assess collector popularity and engage with other people who likewise love old stuff. On my excursion, I saw a beautiful set of crystal water glasses, but a quick Google search revealed that, in comparison to others, these were priced very high. My advice is to keep your phone charged, and be sure to ask a staff person if the store has WiFi so you can save on data!
Here’s another tip: always ask if the seller can do any better than the price on the tag. I’ve learned that in many cases, the sales staff have the vendor’s permission to automatically give a 10 percent discount. Like any store, vendors want to move their merchandise, so it never hurts to ask!
Queen of Hearts in Buford
Another huge, behemoth of a store, I felt my heart lurch in excitement at seeing so much chabby chic décor mixed with high quality antiques and uniquely repurposed items. I fell head-over-heels in love with an original finish Victorian sideboard for under $300, but alas, no matter how much I tried, I couldn’t mentally make it fit in my car. Which is all for the better, really, because I KNOW I don’t have room for it at home…but boy did I want it!! I also found a midcentury china cabinet like the one I gave away 18 years ago priced at $2500—but no time for regrets!
Ultimately, I went home with a 1950s Flexible Flyer push sled for $55. All I could think about was how I had never seen anything like it! After a quick “fingertip search” through some articles, photos and an online antique forum, I came up with a monetary value of $275—so I bought it. High on “winning” at the antique game (I mean, that was a steal!!), I hopped online when I got home to do some more digging on my terrific find. Imagine my shock and crushing disappointment to realize that it’s really only worth about $40 and is no big deal in the world of antiques or vintage sleds (yes, they are a thing)! And, I didn’t even ask if the vendor could do better on the price. Rookie mistake, but you know what? I still love it.
And that leads me to my last and most important suggestion I have for anyone new to antiquing: if you love it, and you can afford it, does it really matter what its monetary worth is? Buy the sled, dress or whatever item has you enthralled. Its value is whatever it means to you—my sled reminds me of good things, and now it makes me laugh every time I look at it. Which just made its value skyrocket in my book!