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By Amber McAlary

The best part about going antique shopping has got to be the nostalgia. Echoes of, “I remember this!” are always heard wafering through shelves of grandma’s favorite Old English Rose pattern, or at the sight of those unique trench art pieces dad was obsessed with. Shopping in antique malls can also be an overwhelming experience. Stores are organized (or not organized) in various ways, ranging from neat and orderly to cluttered and chaotic. To best enjoy your browsing experience, keep these key details in mind the next time you’re looking for that prized trinket of the past:

Utilize customer service.

Antique store employees spend hours each day looking at all the items shop. Chances are, if you’re looking for something, they’ll know exactly where to find it. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You’ll find employees are very knowledgeable about a spectrum of antiques and collectibles, so if you’re looking for something but don’t quite know where to start, just ask!

Remember that some shops require their employees to walk the floor in order to be on hand in case shoppers want to see inside a locked case, or unload items from their hands while browsing a bit more. Don’t mistake this for being watched, customer service representatives are there to assist you.

Bring in photos.

If you’re looking for a specific piece in a certain pattern, but don’t know what the pattern is called, bring in a photo and show someone who works in the store. You might learn that grandma’s Old English Rose tea set was made by Royal Albert China. Showing an associate a photo will allow them to instantly recognize the item and enable them to assist you in finding a great new piece to add to your collection.

Do some research.

Utilize the many different sources of information available to you to learn more about your collection. Expanding your knowledge base will allow you to collect higher-quality pieces and you’ll eventually be able to spot great deals on an item that will hold or increase its value over time. Some antique shops stock a library of reference books that have great information about antiques and collectibles. Antique expos are also great venues to bring in items for an appraisal and to find out more information. Be aware that appraisal booths usually charge a nominal fee per item.

Explore different shops.

Vendors who stock items in antique and collectible shops devote a large amount of time to finding and selecting great items to add to their shelves. Visiting different shops across the state not only exposes you to a wider selection, but it also supports the many people who run the shops; from vendors and small business owners to customer service associates, your support means the world to small community shops.

Have fun!

Sometimes the hunt is just as fun as the find. Gather some friends, locate a restaurant for lunch afterward, or visit a couple tasting rooms to round off your day of antique shopping. The world is your Limoge oyster plate!

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