I am an avid consignment and antique shopper.  For me there is nothing like finding that uniquely perfect treasure for the perfect spot in my home.  Its like a treasure hunt.  I love the idea that I’m also giving an old piece a new lease on life, thus recycling it and helping to keep it out of the landfill.

Recycling high quality older pieces is a fantastic way to low cost decorate, to give a great piece a new life and to add unique and one of a kind pieces to your home décor.  However, there are some simple strategies to effectively maneuvering the consignment shops so that you are getting the most for you money and time.

*When it comes to consignment shopping, not all shops are created equal.  Look for shops that discriminate.  Good consignment shops will only accept pieces that are in good shape and that have good potential for someone else.  Ask the store owner what their policy is for accepting consignment items.

* Keep an open mind. When shopping a consignment  shop, try to think beyond what a piece is to what it could be.   An old lamp can be given new life with a new shade.  Curtain panels could be converted to valances or accent pillows.  Focus on the potential of a piece versus its current state.  Can it use some paint, a new shade, a light sanding?  How can you transform that piece into something spectacular?

Believe it or not, this is an antique sewer grate mold that we found in the basement of Fairmont Avenue Antiques in West Virginia. I think it will make incredible wall art.

The lamp was purchased at Stuff Consignments in Gainesville. The shade was purchased at http://www.lampsplus.com. The sculpture on the table is actually a pair of wall sconces standing upside down. They were purchased at The Very Thing in Haymarket.

My daughter's night stand lamps were purchased with different shades at The Very Thing for about $12 each. I changed the shades to add a pop of pattern against pattern.

*Let your creative juices flow and don’t be afraid to try something new.  Consignment shopping provides an opportunity for trying out new decorating techniques and ideas.  Since you are typically paying lower prices for these pieces, it would not be so painful if something went wrong with your creative project.

Wall cabinet purchased at The Very Thing in Haymarket. I added the fabric panels using a tension rod and some hot glue, to hide the "not so nice" bathroom necessities.

Dresser with distressed paint finish found at antique shop in West Virginia. We use it to store our dining linens in our dining room.

*Look for quality. Just because the piece is being consigned doesn’t mean it should be sturdy, of good quality and safe. Be cautious of peeling paint or rusting nails and screws.  Just like if you were shopping for new items, consider the quality of piece being purchased.

*Don’t be afraid to negotiate.  Some consignment shops will keep items for only thirty days.  After fifteen days, the price is usually dropped and the consignment shops and consigners are typically more willing to negotiate the price of an item.  I always say, if you don’t ask you won’t know.  See if the shop would be willing to reduce the price or sell a combination of items for lower price.

*Get to know the shop owners or staff.  Getting to know the store staff will allow them to get to know you and your tastes.  Perhaps the next time something that would appeal to you comes in, they will contact you directly to let you have first dibs.  Or perhaps you are looking for something specific, if you know the staff you can ask them to keep an eye out for this item on your behalf.

*Drop by your favorite shops often.  As I mentioned before, good consignment shops will keep items on display for about thirty days, which means there will be a lot of rotation and fresh items coming into the shop weekly.    By stopping by often you reduce the risk of missing out on that perfect items you’ve been looking for.

*Consider consigning your older, good quality pieces.  You can make some money towards your your items and will give someone an opportunity to give your great piece a new life.  Be sure to think about the minimum you are willing to accept for the item and speak with the shop owner or staff to make sure you can get that for your item.  Also, if you want your items returned if they do not sell, you must make arrangements to return and pick them up at the end of our consigning period.  Make sure they make a note of it and make sure you keep track or your consignment timeline.

Consignment shopping is a fantastic way to add unique, one of a kind pieces to your home décor.  I hope you find these tips useful for effectively shopping your local consignment shops.  Good luck and happy hunting!