Combing through vintage markets in Paris takes patience, persistence and a ton of luck. Despite the old adage, another man’s junk isn’t necessarily another man’s treasure! You need to go in with a game plan plus a critical eye. Know what you’re looking for – be it kitchenware, utensils, linens, artwork, toys or vintage designer wear (like a Lanvin jacket)…whatever. Have a mental list and go to a few tables to scope out the general asking price while also comparing quality. You’ll need this information in order to bargain properly with the dealer. If there are a few pieces that catch your eye, the dealers will be more willing to negotiate a lower total price. Depending on what you’re looking for, it may be worth scoping out all the tables for a ‘first pass’ before coming back. This will give you an even more accurate assessment of value. The other reason to do a ‘first pass’ is to stop, watch and listen to conversations between the dealers and other prospective buyers. You’ll then get a sense of whether that dealer seems willing to negotiate or is driving a hard line.
For larger items like furniture, you'll need to do some initial research into the types of chairs and tables you're looking for - and average prices - which you can do online. And for items that you like but aren’t 100% in love with (because it’s still pricey), do an initial negotiation and then walk away. Don’t ever be afraid to do that. If you come back when the market is about to wrap up, there’s a chance the dealer may bend on the price as h/she will want to be rid of it. Many travel a long way with their vans full hoping to be rid of most of their wares so they’ll be more flexible towards you with the prospect of not returning home with it! I’ve achieved numerous deals this way!
Antiquing is a skill that requires years of practice – a skill that I have gradually honed through nearly fifteen years of antiquing in French markets all throughout France – especially in Paris and in major antique markets in the south. Yes it takes practice and patience but is worth it – it’s like finding a diamond in the rough – exhilarating and extremely satisfying!