Antique vs. Junktiques

Be forewarned - I have a little bit of a vent in this post. If you don't want to hear me complaining, feel free to scroll down to the bottom of the post and answer the question I'm posing.

Antique Shop Inspirational

I understand that proper antiques are expensive. They should be! They were prized pieces to begin with that have been lovingly tended to for decades and remain in pristine condition. So you'll hear no argument from me when I walk into a fine antiques boutique and do a double take on the prices.

But there is another kind of object that isn't really an antique by my definition. Those are the kind of pieces that have grown dusty in grandma's attic or gotten beaten about in the garage for the past 50 years. They aren't in great condition and require a good deal of work before they can be presentable again. They started their life as distinctly not fancy and are now just a couple of steps from junk. So lets call these "junktiques".

These junktiques are the kinds of things I go searching for. I don't care a wit about pedigree. In fact, the idea of having a expensive heirloom in my possession is positively off putting! I just want something with a little bit of character that I can put my own decorative stamp on and prolong its useful years. Ive spent the better part of a year keeping my eyes open for just these kinds of pieces. Specifically, Ive been on the look out for furniture that I could use in my bedroom but keeping an open mind on other things too. And what do I have for my efforts? Nothing!

Its not for lack of looking, its for complete outrage at the price of some of these junktiques. No matter how disgusting the store, how poorly displayed, how lackluster the piece, I am always shocked at the price. Case in point, I visited a complete mess of a store not far from my house. Furniture stacked up on top of each other all the way to the ceiling. Friendly shop keeper staked out in front with a black and white television and portable heater. No posh customer service, no pretty displays , no heat, florescent lighting, etc. The scene was set for good deals as far as I was concerned. I found a great set of nightstands that needed to be painted and restored a bit but I was willing to put in the effort. Oh shopkeeper - how much are these two? $3600!!! WHAT???? These two tables here that aren't finished are $3600??? Yep. Clearly, I had picked the one set that was fancier than the rest. So I kept looking around finally finding something in the basement that was dinged up pretty badly. Surely these would be the bargain basement finds I was looking for. The price? $1100!! WHAT????

Similar scenes have played out all year long at other junk shops and flea market spread across the tri-state area. Perhaps I'm just really cheap but I just can't bring myself to spend thousands of dollars on pieces that need at least a few hours of serious elbow grease and have no inherent value.

Maybe I am looking in the wrong place? I don't believe its just bad luck on my part - the kind of place Im looking for HAS to be out there.

Do you have a favorite juntique shop that you can recommend? Preferably within driving distance and with enough selection to make the trip worthwhile. Did you score a great deal on something you love?

38 comments:

  1. I am amazed at the prices some of these shop-keepers ask for things. I have found that we still have some great finds here in Maine (not too close to you...) The prices take a drastic jump after Memorial Day. For the most part, if you research an area and pick a spot, you can sometimes talk these store owners into a "best you can do" deal.
    If you find yourself planning a trip north, I would be happy to share some favorites.

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  2. I feel your pain, a wonderful junkie shop of a mish-mosh of items recently changed hands and owners and now it is a posh shop which has its own merits, just that I liked going in an feeling as if I had unearthed a treasure for a song.

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  3. Mrs.BL - you must have expensive taste - the doozies just flock to you!!

    I don't know of any shops in your area but I do know that my friend Craig (of Craigslist notariety) is always a good place to find the junktiques that people are just trying to unload. That or if storage facilities in your area clean house - sometimes they sell the goods for cheap of those peeps that don't pay the bill.

    Good luck - let us know what you find :)

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  4. I second Katie's Craigslist suggestion... sometimes you can find great stuff on there for a song. I've noticed there, too, that sometimes I think the prices are MUCH higher than they should be... (although, I guess you could always try to do some rummage-sale style bargaining?).

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  5. Ive seen a few things that might be promising on Craig's list but Im a little creeped out about going to someones apartment to take a look at something.

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  6. WOW what a rip off! $3600 is crazy. Dont feel bad. you did the right thing.

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  7. It's like that here too. I walked into a store at Christmas looking for a teacup and saucer. I found one and it wasn't in great shape, but it had a nice shape and was pretty. I was going to make a candle out of it so it didn't need to be perfect. The price: $120. And it was no Wedgewood, to be sure. Then I found a pretty little bud vase that I thought would look cute in my kitchen - $130. These are much cheaper than what you were quoted, obviously, but still ridiculously priced given what they were (and weren't).

    There are a few places here that I know will have good prices, but the selection is hit and miss. I found a drop leaf table that needed a paint job for $60, a rocking chair for $25, a lamp for $10. I'm currently on the lookout for two side tables for our bedroom and so far the only thing I've found was disgustingly expensive for what they were, so the hunt continues.

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  8. Craigslist and similar websites are probably the best place to find junktiques without the antique prices. Take someone with you and remember that most people are good. I always keep an eye out for suspicious grammar and spelling, really fuzzy pictures or lack of picture. Those are the ones I avoid.

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  9. Do you have any thrift stores around? Obviously it's hit or miss as well, but if you find one that specializes furniture you might find some diamonds in the rough.

    It makes me wonder how stores like that are able to stay open, but I guess one sale and they are set for the month.

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  10. I totally feel you on junktiques!

    One of my faves is Nook n Crannie which has two locations in Queens (Astoria & LIC). It happens to be on my way home so I stop in every so often. The prices are very reasonable. Large furniture pieces start at $300. I found a beautiful secretary desk for $600 once. It was made of oak and all it needed was a nice sanding and coat of paint. They often change up their inventory and all their proceeds go to a charity they support.

    Here is the site: http://betelofamerica.org/

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  11. I know exactly what you are talking about. Our local flea market has some vendors that ask outrageous prices for stuff that is just as you described. In my area we have a great store called To Market To Market, the owner finds the best things, fixes some of the furniture up and sells it. She is so reasonable and her style is amazing. I just received a post card that due to the economy she is closing her shop. It is too sad.

    When we visited Nashville in the fall we stumbled across some great junk shops in Franklin, they had amazing products and great prices.

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  12. I'm a Junktiquer. There is quite a few places I check regularly. Bummer to hear it is hard to do in your area.

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  13. I hear ya! I think a lot of these stores are putting a high price tag on anything "old!" Rip off, scam artists!

    ITA with CraigsList!

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  14. Ah, I completly share your sentiments about outrageously priced pieces that are certainly not heirloom-quality. Although I live on the opposite coast of where you are located, the best vintage and "juntique" (great term!) treasures are still found at thrift shops, estate sales, and architectural salvage places. With persistence, you will find great treasures at reasonable prices :)

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  15. That just drives me crazy! I found most of my junktiques off of craigslist (manhattan, westchester and fairfield - most of the best stuff is in fairfield). I also stalk my local Goodwill here in Stamford. My recent purchase was a chest of drawers (probably 1940's louis 15th style) for the nursery for $60! There are some good consignment shops here in the Greenwich/Stamford area that sell used furniture for really cheap. I know, because my MIL just recently had to sell a bunch of her old furniture (which was in fantastic shape) and she basically got pennies for it because it was just "priced to sell". Let me know if you want specifics.

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  16. Aw, are you shopping the grossest-looking places on Atlantic Ave, where they try to charge their month's rent for each lamp? Honestly your best bet is to flee the NYC-metro area. And another commenter suggested the Goodwill stores in nice areas--I totally second that one. There is an auction in Stamford, CT on either Tuesdays or Thursdays (I'm sorry I can't remember which); it's a reverse auction so things get bid *down* really low if no one is bidding. And it tends to be that solid but not exceptional stuff.

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  17. Oh dear, Mrs. Limestone! I feel your junktique pain. All of these are a bit hit or miss, and you will find the outrageously overpriced shredded wing chair with springs poking out (but…”rare” with ”good bones” and “turn of the century”), BUT I have scored at these NJ shore places:

    - Country by the Sea in Avon (my $125 dresser, and my friend got a $250 mantle that’s outrageously cool). Tiny place; lots of tchotchke but you can find cool stuff buried within.

    - New place called Shore Antique Center in Allenhurst (just north of Asbury Park by the Allenhurst train station). I haven’t gotten anything there but my friend/aspiring designer has picked up for himself and clients.

    - Red Bank Antique Center. The one main building with pebbly parking lot is much better than others.

    - Antique Emporium in Asbury Park. Vendors have fled to Allenhurst but I’ve found a few diamonds in the VERY overpriced rough here.

    And...Ocean Grove Flea – scheduled for May 30!

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  18. Well....I have a set of night stands for the bargain basement price of only $900 each, just for you LOL....GOOD GRIEF!

    I'm a cheapskate, big time. I prefer yard sales, resale shops and Goodwill or Salvation Army. We have a church resale shop in our little town that I just absolutely love and have found some great things at. But I hear ya on some of these places thinking all of their dust is worth a mint, NOT.

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  19. That is nuts that so many people out there try to take advantage of those looking for an honest buy. I just found your blog a few days ago and already I am hooked! If you have time to visit mine to find out details as to a "Tag" I've done on you and your blog. If you are too busy to play along I completely understand! Look forward to getting to know you via your blog! Nancy from Texas www.lovestocreate.com

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  20. I'm always in Red Bank Antique Center "Monmouth Antiques". There are 5 affiliated buildings there as well - fun digging for sure.

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  21. We have events in England called 'bootsales' Members of the public get up ridiculously early 5 am and sell their unwanted junktiques from the boot of their car. I have found an amazing array of treasure over the years all at a fraction of the junktique shops prices. Maybe yard sales are a better option. Happy hunting.

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  22. Yes, I do stalk the inventory at second hand stores but smaller furniture pieces seem to go fast (or never arrive). They generally have some larger pieces that have potential but I don't have the space for them.

    Laura - I often go to Red Bank too. They have some nice things but they are a little light on small furniture. But I'll be there this weekend to check out their latest stock. I did find my dining room chandelier there thanks to your suggestion of the spot last year.

    Meladorium - Thanks, I have never been there but Ill add it to my must visit stores.

    StamfordWife - Yes, I definitely want details!

    Katek - I was recounting a story from an antiques place on 5th Avenue. At least the ones at Atlantic Avenue have some cache to them...5th avenue, not so much.

    Laura@shorehouse - Thanks for the suggestions, Ill definitely be scouting out your list.

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  23. I've noticed a huge rise in prices during the past year or so. I've talked to other thrifters/junktique finders and they have experienced the same thing...even Goodwill has gotten outlandishly expensive. My guess is that now that thrifting and recycling are chic and trendy, shop keepers are trying to cash in on it.

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  24. I don't have any recommendations, but I know what you mean. We have a few "antique" stores here in town and they think that if it's old, it's worth a whole lot more than it is. I know it's expensive where you are, but those prices are ridiculous!

    Maybe if you went outside of the city or across state lines?

    Anyway, I wish you luck on your search :)

    rue

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  25. Btw, I've been looking back through your blog and your 2nd anniversary of owning the house was yesterday, so Happy Anniversary :)

    You've made AMAZING progress and I could see the potential too, even through all the scariness ;)

    rue

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  26. I've been having the same issue lately too, so you are not alone. I go into these junktique places all excited and ready to find something fabulous for our home that just needs a little TLC, and I end up leaving the store mumbling to myself about "outrageous prices". For the amount of money some people want for their junktiques, I might as well buy the new replica.

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  27. I frequent many used furniture stores whose owners fancy themselves antique experts.
    I seriously think that some of these shop owners are mentally ill. When you enter a place that is so cluttered and disorganized that you are stepping over stuff you know these people don't even know what they have. When you ask for a price and get an outrageous number, I think they really don't want to part with their inventory.
    I really like tag sales. Here on Long Island there are a couple of women who run nice, fair sales with furniture in good condition. I have furnished our house upstate this way (with some Craigslist additions). I can send send links if you are interested. P

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  28. I feel your pain. Everything in the Tri-state area is so expensive. I used to find good deal in the Bronx I think by the Williamsburg bridge but that was years ago before renovations and on 125th street. I picks up my 2 night stands for 125.00 and still love them today. Now I don't know what you can find. It's all hit or miss.

    I agree it's gone crazy. Everyone needs to make rent. I want to rent a truck and go down south.

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  29. I feel the same way. I can never find these 12.00 tables that need to be refinished. I also can find cheap painters, handymen, carpenters. My addition to my house was suppose to be $300,000.00 it ended up being closer to 1 million. That was just in the bidding part (so don't say it was overruns). I am looking in the wrong place for everything or they see me coming a mile away. Sorry I can;t help you but if you travel in my circle what was $3600.00 just went to $5000.00. MB

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  30. What a racket! I can't believe that..there are plenty of expensive antique stores here in the South, but there are also plenty that have reasonable deals. Cause I've found them over the years & consider my little collection pretty noteworthy. and I didn't pay a fortune for most of it at all. That does sound outrageous! There has to be more places to shop than that.

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  31. Im pretty good at negotiating down but when the bidding starts at $3600, its a waste of breathe.

    MaryBeth - Don't feel bad. There is no such thing as a cheap carpenter or painter. You either pay up front or pay in pain & suffering! Do you have a blog? I'd love to see your home!

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  32. There are numerous HUGE antique "barns" really close to where I live. One of the most popular is Harbor View Center for Antiques and there are many many more in the same area. Another one of my favorites is Estate Treasures in Greenwich. They have tent sales when the weather is nice and the prices are amazing (that's where my MIL sold her things like a huge dining room buffet for $300). You should come up to CT on a Saturday and I'd be happy to be your tour guide.

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  33. No I don't have a blog I can hardly stand to remember the construction, I think I would die if I had to be reminded of it via my words (nasty ones) or photos. It has been 4 years and I am still not done. The worst part is I am almost paralyzed with choice fear. I have made too many but still have soooo many to make. So we are at a stand still. Our summer project was to put in a pool, sod and trees in the back yard so we enjoyed that but now I should do another inside project but just don't have the desire right now. I am sure I will get it back one day when I wake up and think how can I live with this a moment longer.

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  34. Oh, do I feel your pain- I am in the same boat as you! I'm actually doing a post on it right now, and I used your term junktiques, hope you dont mind :) I linked to you of course.

    I cant wait to see what you have found on Monday!

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  35. I feel your junktique pain! I don't live anywhere near you, but I've stopped going to second hand stores because of the price issues you've mentioned.

    When I lived in Paris, it was terribly difficult, too. My beau and I discovered that "antiquaires" were not the way to go. We found that looking for "Depot Ventes" or "Troc Tout" in the suburbs or along the sides of highways gave us far better results.

    I still haven't found the solution in North America. Estate sales and garage sales are probably the best hunting grounds but they are hit and miss, it seems.

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  36. I SOOOO agree with you on this post! When did our beloved 'junk' hit such a pedigree status? (I guess when the antique store owners ran out of the 'good' stuff...)

    Joy

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  37. I'm way late on this thread but I just found your blog. I live in Albany NY (3-level 1876 brick townhouse) and we have amazing junktiques. Best bets are saturday estate sales (check listings in the Albany Times Union), the neighboring town of Troy's antique district, and the Coxsackie Antiques Center off 87. You should take a drive up some weekend. It is so worth it. Also, if you've never been to the Brimfield shows, you should NOT miss those.

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  38. As a modern people i go for junktiques even though it came from junks i know it is touched by modernization, but antiques are old and has less durability.

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