Useful Finds From Antique Stores
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Here are some of the best things to buy at antique stores. Keep a lookout for these items that you can use in your everyday life during your next trip.
Useful Finds From Antique Stores
When you think of an antique store do you picture a store filled with dusty shelves of broken, old things that remind you that you are glad we have modern conveniences? Or do you picture a store full of useful treasures that are just waiting to be dug out?
A few years ago, me and the hubby really started to get into antique stores. We both loved all the treasures that could be found and I happen to be an avid collector of old jars (not Ball Jars unless they are over 100 years old, I collect Atlas, Mason, and other various unique brands). On our little road trips, we would make a point to stop at the most hole-in-the-wall antique stores we could find. It’s a fun little hobby that I don’t intend to give up!
After we started doing this, thinking that we could just find things to collect, I start getting more into digging around and spotting things I could actually use in our daily lives. You already know but many things produced many years ago were of much better quality than what you can find today. We are still very much regulars at antique stores and love to stop at each new one we spot to see what kind of treasures we will discover next. Here are some things that we’ve found in antique stores that are worth looking for and buying the next time you happen to stop by one.
Children’s Books and Toys
No surprise here but I don’t really like buying “modern” books for our son. I don’t care to have him read about crazy “heroes”, witches, monsters, and other similar things. I want him to read the good old fashioned books that I read when I was a kid. We always look for books like this at antique stores. I like the Little Golden Books in particular and am trying to grow a large collection for our family. I can usually pick these up for less than $1 per book. We also like to look for kids’ toys, mainly wooden items or unique things that stir the imagination. Our son is not quite 2 years old but he already knows that a die-cast car is much more fun to play with in the dirt than a plastic one.
–Make sure you don’t overwhelm yourself with great finds. Keep the good ones and learn How to Downsize Books and Simplify Your Collection.
Linens and Clothing
This one might be a surprise because generally, we think of antique clothing as something threadbare and not worth much. Most antique stores I’ve found have clothing priced too high because it’s “vintage” styles now. But occasionally I’ve found some that is a great deal and in seeing how modesty styles have changed drastically over the years, we can often find some really cute and modest skirts and dresses at antique stores. We’ve also bought some clothing for costumes to use during our annual 4th of July parade.
Another item we like to buy at antique stores is linens. I’ve found the most beautifully hand-sewn linens on some of those dusty shelves that were probably used only once or twice and very carefully preserved by the keeper of the home. I think these make very pretty and unique table decor. (Side note: antique stores can be a great place to grab nice cloth napkins for really cheap!)
–Even outdated clothes, linens or drapes can often be useful for new projects. Like these DIY Cloth Napkins, Un-Paper Towels. Get more ideas on Sewing on a Budget.
I generally do not buy dishes at antique stores for everyday use because they tend to be somewhat thinner than what is on the market today (although I do buy them for photography props), but there are other dishes I love to buy. Large pyrex and crock style bowls are particular favorites for me to watch for. I very much dislike the plastic mixing bowls made today so I search out these heavy-duty large bowls for baking Nothing beats an excellent stoneware bowl that will probably last through your lifetime for only $15!
I also like to look for heirloom glassware as I happen to collect Fostoria Crystal ever since I was given part of a set by my grandma. Someday my wish is to be able to complete the collection that my grandma once had (pieces got broken during their moves) so I can pass along the entire set.
The majority of the other things we get from antique stores are pretty random. I like to buy old (usually cracked) small crocks for trash cans for various rooms in the house (they don’t move when you toss something in!). Sometimes we’ve found old games that are fun additions to our game collection. The Hubby has found tools he can use outside that you just can’t buy anymore. I’ve found some great old canning supplies like jars, and even a strainer in very good condition! We’ve even found fabric to sew with. You just never know what you might come across that can be useful in your daily life!
–Learn How to Organize and Downsize Toys, Games, and Movies.
These are just some of our useful finds from antique stores. I’m glad we got into the habit of stopping at them because we almost always find something we can use for less than what we could buy the modern counterpart for at the store and it’s a fun experience looking through all the treasures of days gone by.
If you liked this post on what to buy at antique stores you might find these posts useful as well:
Frugal Clothes Shopping at Rummage Sales
Homesteading Supplies You Can Get at the Dollar Store
How To Shop for Frugal Clothing at Consignment Stores
Cheap Travel Tips for the Best Budget Road Trips
If you are looking to simplify your life even further, you may want to check my eWorkbook, 31 Days to Simpler Living! In it, you will find 79 pages of daily challenges, info and advice, and printable worksheets and checklists to keep you on track along your journey.
What are some of your own favorite useful finds from antique stores?
What is the best thing you’ve ever bought from an antique store?
This post on the Best Things to Buy at Antique Stores was originally published on Little House Living in January 2014. It has been updated as of January 2020.
I love to find vintage fabrics and handkerchiefs to making quilts.
Have you ever gone to an estate/farm auction? WAY better for the kind of stuff you’re buying at antique stores…and some of it at giveaway prices. The crockery bowls seldom go cheap, nor does crystal, but the other things you listed all do. Dress for the weather and plan to spend the day. There is usually food on-site. Outdoor auctions are usually BYO chairs. Indoor ones usually have chairs.
I have! We’ve found it really depends on the auction though, so things go for WAY more than they should! I have gotten some pretty good deals though 🙂
This is true. You have to know what you are willing to spend and stick to it, and I have seen people bid things up WAY past what they’re worth. On the other hand, I have gotten stuff free, thrown in with something else I bought, that I’m still using 20 years later! Right now, I’m doing laundry in a Maytag wringer washer that was $5 at an auction last winter, and works perfectly. (We’re building a homestead off-grid, so we actually have a need for a washer that can be used without hookups, but I always keep one around anyhow. There are some things a wringer will get clean that no modern washer can.)
I love to go to antique or junk stores. I love the addition of games in your post, we have always played a lot of games and many of them came for junk stores or garage sales.
We lived in Nebraska for a few years and I loved going to the yard sales or the yearly church sales. My husband and I really dislike plastic so we search for the old metal kitchen gadgets too. We collect linens, crocks, sturdy glassware (the older stuff), old metal cheese and potato shredders, the old metal pots with handles, love big glass jars with the bale handles, canning jars, we found two old rockers that were covered in material and had horsehair under the seat and found them at a thrift store for $5 each, so comfortable. Our headboard to our bed is an old barn door with the latch still on, we found old door knobs (metal and glass) and our daughter gave us some antique ones, so my husband attached them to an old piece of wood and we hand coats on them (only drawback, you can’t see the handles lol). I love old wheelbarrows for flowers, and the list goes on. Thank you for your site, it’s sweet and not overwhelming, I love it.
Sounds like you’ve found some really good finds! I love the doorknob coat hangers, we plan on making one for our mudroom out of the old doorknobs we’ve found around the farmhouse. 🙂
Forgot to tell you, I had always wanted a Hoosier cabinet but in Arizona a good one goes for over $1200. I got a beautiful one in Nebraska for a whole lot less. It was in an auction and was not bid on for the price the lady wanted. She took it home, I waited two months and she sold it to me for less than she originally wanted.
I’d love one of those! I’ve noticed the huge price difference between states as well. We have to make a trip to Iowa next month and I want to check out some antique stores while we are there!
My trips to antique stores are usually in search of furniture, such as the desk I’m sitting at right now. Old furniture is usually really solid, and it has so much character. Love it!
I like to collect old cookbooks, And have been fortunate to find a 1939 edition of Better Homes & Gardens cookbook. I also like to pick up old canning cookbooks and convert the old recipes to meet today’s safety standards.
I’m looking for a replacement for my copy of the Farm Journal cookbook — green cover, probably published in the late 1940’s or early 1950’s. A friend had a copy and loaned it to me – I loved it, but had to return it. It had recipes for potato candy and rolls that were to die for – among others! I found my own copy at an antique store and made the mistake of acting excited when I found it. Paid more than I should have because of it, but it was worth it. Lost the book during one of our moves. Sure wish I could find another copy.
Is this the one you were looking for? I saw a bunch on Amazon.com. http://www.amazon.com/JOURNALS-COUNTRY-COOKBOOK-SPECIAL-EDITION/dp/B0058A8A8Q/ref=sr_1_24?ie=UTF8&qid=1386019294&sr=8-24&keywords=Farm+Journal+cookbook
Flinch! That is how we passed time during the power outage! Great Post!
I feel compelled to share my story of a Hoosier cabinet with those of you who know and appreciate what it is. When I was a little girl and our family was living in my grandparents basement, we had a Hoosier cabinet in our kitchen. As a little girl I didn’t know the name of that cabinet but I knew it was precious storage and cooking, baking area for us. To me it represents family connection and memories embedded of family fun.
When we moved my mom took that cabinet and put it in our new house basement to use it as a laundry storage cabinet. 22 years later I asked if I could have that cabinet for a kitchen I was now remodeling with a family of my own. My mom couldn’t part with it.
Another 20 years later my mom died. Despite the fact that Mom had other pieces of furniture maybe worth more and that didn’t need work, when I and my 6 sisters were dividing everything up, I asked first for that cabinet.
Why? I know that my great grandma, my grandma, my mom, I and now my grandsons have a family history of stories using that cabinet:-) My grandsons just turned 5 and this is where they eat. The tambour door “garage door” as they call it, is their special storage place.
The cabinet still has original cooking and shopping recipes on it and original surface. I did have to have rust removed and the tambour door rebuilt, new casters put on…but 6 generations of sharing love and food is irreplaceable!
So sometimes treasures are found right in front of us:-)
Thanks for sharing that story, how special!
PS…I found some great blue ball jars at the local Goodwill store. Second hand stores are a great source as are garage sales. I’ve gotten many deals and transformed them from trash to treasures! Love it!
LOVE junkin’!!! My Grandma was an avid yard saler and turned that hobby into a profit by selling those treasures at flea markets and at one time having her own shop. I collect colorful glassware, mainly but I love children’s tea sets, Little Golden books (I have a lot) & my favorite – Fire King’s Jadite!!! My grandparents drank out of Jadite restaurant ware when I was a little girl and I can still see the color of their coffee, with cream, in those cups. The price has made in uncontainable for me in this season of my life but I treasure the pieces I have, especially since my Grandma passed this summer. If you’re ever in the Richmond, VA area, look up ‘Squash-a-penny antiques’ up in Doswell!! You’ll love it!
I loved this post. Last year we did all our holiday shopping at the antique stores. It was a treasure hunt. One store near us has their anniverary sale the first weekend in December. Everything in the store is 30-70% off. I got my daughter a pair of cowboy boots for $5 (adult sized) and dh got a brand new Coleman gas lantern for $7.50. We also buy all sorts of tools, cast iron cookware and even found some army jerry cans for gas. Who needs walmart?
Wow, some great deals!
I’ve just started collecting lovely, old postcards. I love reading the backs from a time when traveling to another part of the country or world was a major event. My favorite shop had at least 100 postcards a woman had collected, beginning around 1900 when she was a young girl until she married, had children, then grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren.
They were for sale individually at around $3 each (cheaper than Hallmark!) I bought the most beautiful seasonal cards. The fronts are so pretty. I have a lovely autumn one in a small frame on a shelf filled with Thanksgiving decor. The verse on a picture of fall-colored ivy says, “Ivy leaves for constancy, Let them say, I cling to Thee.” The cards will also make a cute addition to shadow boxes I hope to create soon. It will be so easy to change the cards with the seasons and I will never want to permanently cover up the writing on the backs.
I have a Hoosier cabinet story too. My great grandmother passed away in the 70’s in Southern Illinois. My cousin and I were looking through her old dilapidated house before it was torn down. Vandals had stripped everything of value from the house and it was a hazard to the neighborhood. We found the cabinet covered with dozens of layers of white paint and the doors had been kicked and punched. We carried it from the wreckage to his truck and he carted it home. He had the doors repaired and the paint stripped off. The doors had tin panels that had been hidden over with wood when they became unfashionable in the old days! The cabinet is beautiful! No one else could see the valuable find because of the paint and poor condition. I’m glad it stayed in the family and ironically, the Hoosier cabinet now resides in Indiana with a nice Hoosier family!
Always wanted a Hoosier cabinet, but never saw one in my price range. Then, we moved out to the San Francisco Bay Area for hubs’ work, and craigslist free section is just insane there. I was scrolling through one day, and there was a cabinet listed, but she used a brand name I’d never heard of, not Hoosier, and she didn’t put a picture up. I looked the brand name up quick, emailed the lady even quicker, and we went to get it. Perfectly good oak Hoosier cabinet that needed a 10-minute clamp and glu job on one of the cabinet doors, for FREE! Even the flour sifter is functional! And it is SO nice to use in my kitchen!
Back in the 70s,I bought a huge crock bowl with blue designs at an auction for
$10. Thru the years,I filled it with finds from Garage sales and Flea Markets
of kitchen gadgets. I use a lot of them,as they work far better then any of the
new types. I’m fortunate to finally enjoy 200 years worth of family heirloms
from one side of the family. My house is overfull of them. From furniture to
one of the 1st Valentines made. I have 3 daughters that should inheirt them,
but they all live in other countrys and like a more modern look. Just hope
they want some of the nicer valuable stuff. I love the old stuff and searching
for good buys on it,but am out of room,so have to pass most of it up’ The
other side of my family had a Homestead built by my Great Grandfather.
They had a park,and concession stand on the river. The house was full of
valuable old things. I was to get the Brass Bed my Mother was born in. When
the last family member died,relatives packed everything up and put it in the
attached garage. One night theives broke in and took everything’ I was
crushed,as all my childhood memories disappeared overnight’ Old things
are full of warm memories’
First of all I love you Blog read it at least once a week. Have you heard of freestyle love it! People most up things they no longer want and the first person who replies gets the item for free. Love looking at op shops, markets and antiques stores to find great things we got a 1950’s sunbeam mix master for 50 dollars that worked well for many years started leaking oil after we moved (three times in four years ) brought a new version of it and the quality wasn’t there. Still have all of my 1970’s golden books
Freecycle not freestyle
That is exactly why I just bought an old croquet set at a garage sale last week for $5. Not only because it was cheaper but I am sure much better name and has a history. I want something like the one’s my grandparents owned that my parents now own.
I am what you would call an estate sale junkie. I love to go to them. I started collecting Flo Blue pieces. I have purchased some exceptionally beautiful painting (countrystyle) that fit in my home perfectly. I also find many useful things that can be used around the house. Some of the fun is just being able to go through the houses and look at all the different styles.
Love it, and I have picked up some precious antiques.
I love finding buttons at antique stores. I also look for hats! There are so many fun things you can find. I have a cool collection of rug beaters that I found that hangs in my dining room. I also have a sweet mirror that is waiting to be hung and a church pew that needs a little TLC before it joins the other fun antiques in our home!
When my oldest who is 18 now, was little i too bought her the golden books. I always bought them at consignment shops andgarage sales for under $1. Great thing to collect. I also collect playing cards
I love antique shops, as my grandparents used to have one and I worked there on summer holidays. Right now I’m saving up to buy a vintage “Universal” bread maker.. it’s hand crank (clamps on a chair or table top) and you only have to put the ingredients in and crank to mix .. let it rise right inside. My mom and her sister both have them and they work like a charm. I’ve also a collection of antique kitchen utensils like pot strainers and hand graters ….they work better than the modern counterparts.
I look for cast iron cookware and carbon steel (not stainless) knives.
I have quite a collection of cast iron frypans now, from tiny #3 to #12. Some have smoke rims on their bottoms.
I have found that old carbon steel knives are much easier to keep sharp than more modern stainless knives.
About 90% of everything in our house is antique, but I don’t buy from antique shops…..the fun is finding the real old stuff at yard sales and junk stores. My greatest find was a beautiful old ducan phyffe coffee table.. I had it a lot of years. I paid $75.00 for it and got $515.00 for it when I sold it
Boy I love shopping at thrift stores. I buy everything from clothes to art.
I love to look for old pieces of china. I especially like old casserole dishes, butter dishes and gravy boats. I also like looking for silver serving spoons, knives and forks. Old kitchen gadgetry is another thing I love finding. The old kitchen gadgets just seem to last forever.
I love finding old egg baskets, and gym locker baskets for kitchen/pantry storage.
I love floral frogs for picture holders
Paint by numbers, cruels, quilt tops and anything that took someone a lot of time!
I really love your website. I have been going to garage sales and antique stores for 45 years starting with Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Missouri and back to Iowa (places we have lived). Now we’ve added estate sales as well ( I’m too impatient for auctions). We love to travel now that we are retired so stop at many stores and sales along the way hitting the back roads of this great country! I look for old sheet music and books, Lois Lenski books, dishes, crystal ( I never registered as a bride ) and anything else that captures our fancy from long ago. I also enjoy meeting the people that we encounter as we search that one item we didn’t know we were looking for! Thanks for a wonderful website.
Antique stores around here, seldom have these things and everything they do have is way overpriced in my opinion. So I prefer to hit the thrift stores, but especially the yard sales. Yard sales in smaller towns are excellent sources for everything you listed and more. My very first Cinderella print bowl, the large one with the pour lips, was $.75 at a yard sale in my hometown. My Aunt bought it for me when she saw me ogling it, I was visiting and had no money with me. That bowl got broken when I dropped it with a huge load of coleslaw I had made for a gathering, and it broke on the concrete. I found a set of the same print a year later at a price I was willing to pay $15 with shipping on ebay, as everywhere else I found them wanted $45 and up. And then when I married my Husband she gave me another set, of a different print, so now I have two whole sets of these fabulous bowls. And I personally prefer the ones with the pour lips, as it makes them easy to use for baking and also easier to carry.
I think you and I would have fun going to an antique store together because we look for the same things. I enjoy your blog so very much.
HI..i love antique shops..we have a really nice one over here..they have a huge basket full of allsorts for under a pound..i have got books..enamelware candle holders..beautiful glass candlesticks..and my best prize is a beautiful eiderdown quilt..it needed a bit of sewing on the edge but otherwise perfect..and only a pound..me and the girls just love going to look and sometimes buy..i would rather buy something older with history rather than plastic..
Great article! Antique collecting is the original recycling! Cheers!
Almost everything in my home is from a junk store, thrifted, collected off the side of the road, built by us or given to us from friends and family. I have two matching green velvet couches that I got for $125 delivered that are big enough for four people each, a 1960’s pod chair the I got from a yard sale for $10 that’s worth $400! It all matters how hard you look and where you go!
I grew up with thrift stores and yard sales being the first place to sins for a wanted Item. I keep a list of these things and review it before I make the yard sale rounds each weekend .
Very true, Thrift stores, antique shops, consignment shops, antique malls, auctions, etc are all GREAT resources to find that certain gem you are looking for. If you are ever in the North Carolina region, there is a great comprehensive directory of all Antique, Consignment, and Thrift shops located throughout the state, you can visit it here: http://antiquesinnorthcarolina.com/ A lot of these places are in old barns or mills and have a HUGE selection. These type of places are the mom & pops stores that you want to visit to bargain for a deal or find something special!
I love your site, just found it. I, too collect some Fostoria glass. I am in the process of clearing out some of the plain blue dishes(Azue). If you are interested please let me know. thanks
ps always willing to barter!
It’s the best time to make some plans for the future and it’s time to be happy.
I’ve read this post and if I could I wish to suggest you some interesting things or suggestions.
Maybe you can write next articles referring to this article.
I wish to read more things about it!
I live in Texas and I am always looking for antique and thrift shops and repurpose things I find. I love the old things that I grew up with and they do bring such good memories ! I love your page and love reading what you do with your treasures. My BFF and I are going to Branson on a girls get away to antique and see the fall colors and we both have a passion for old tucked away little shops. We could spend hours in one. Keep posting ideas for us !!
I would love to see the clothing that you have found!
Visiting from Good Tips Tuesday. Great suggestions of things to buy!
i feel as you do about large bowls for the kitchen. I recently was able to find at an insanely low price a set of Pyrex “Primary Colors” mixing bowls. I had one years ago, and lost it when our house burned, so I was very happy to find the complete set. I guess some folks put them on a shelf just to look at, but I use mine. They are much heavier and better made than the stuff they make nowadays.