SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – If you eat with dishes and silverware, hang artwork on your walls, use furniture, read books, or wear clothing, you might find these tips can save you a lot of money when vintage shopping during these tough economic times.

A vintage orange chair awaits a new owner at King’s Antique and More in Shreveport. Image: KTAL’s Jaclyn Tripp.

Knowing how to seek out good deals on things you already need to buy is part skill and part gut instinct, says one antique shopping aficionado.

But buying vintage isn’t just about saving money. It also means you’ll wind up with items that are of higher quality and become smarter in the process.

Here’s how.

“I just love it,” said Springhill resident Evelyn June Colvin. “Antique shopping is for treasure hunters.”

It took Colvin years to recognize antique glassware styles, wood types, and antique furniture styles, and even longer to learn how to value such items. But doing so is certainly a good way to understand local and world history.

Colvin said that it really doesn’t matter how much a particular antique is worth. She said what really counts is that you buy pieces you like.

Colvin owned an antique shop in northwest Louisiana and has also filled booths in flea markets and her home with vintage finds, and she said one of the best ways to find good deals on vintage goods is to understand the differences between antique stores, flea markets, and thrift stores.

Flea markets

“Flea markets are an inside garage sale,” Colvin said. “Anything you can find at a garage sale can be found in a flea market.”

And though the idea of a massive garage sale may sound overwhelming to some, Colvin promised you can find a lot of really cool stuff in flea markets where prices should be low.

“We’ve all heard of people who find a Picasso in a flea market or thrift store—you really can find a great deal if you know what you’re looking at,” she said.

Colvin was perhaps referring to Zachary Bodish’s find in a Clintonville, Ohio thrift store 11 years ago, where Bodish bought an authentic art print signed by Picasso for only $14.14.

Antique shops

Natalie Williamson said she adores Kings Antiques and More in Shreveport.

That’s where she likes to do her vintage clothing in Shreveport. Her matching vintage belt with a polished stone buckle and flowy, beige top would fit right in on any vintage Pinterest board.

“I don’t like antique furniture, but the fun hats, the jewelry—that’s me,” Williamson admitted. “I like old clothes.”

Want a set of vintage plates like your grandma had when you were little? It may take a while, but you can find a set. Image: KTAL’s Jaclyn Tripp.

An antique shop is a store or marketplace that obtains stock from auctions, estate sales, garage sales, and sometimes flea markets. And there are plenty of vintage shops in Shreveport and Bossier for those who like to shop in the city. Vintage goods can be found in small-town shops across the region.

Colvin said she considers an antique any item that is 50 years old or older, but she also said it’s debatable.

Others believe vintage items are 50 to 99 years old, while an antique is 100 years old or more.

Williamson said she’s into the fashion and décor sides of vintage shopping and that she has never been to a thrift store or a flea market.

“We were just talking about Greenwood Flea Market last week,” she said. “We want to go.”

Flea markets and antique shops are often checkerboarded by booths where individual sellers stylishly arrange and offer their items on consignment, and the quality of items at antique stores can vary. Some antique stores have rare furniture and prices marked to reflect the researched and educated guesses of each item’s genuine value. Other antique stores are filled with unusual items that may seem quirky to those who are used to shopping big-box retail shelves.

Love rubber duckies and crystals? This necklace may have been made just for you. Image: KTAL’s Jaclyn Tripp.

And like birds of the same feather, antique stores tend to cluster together.

“Really, we came for downstairs—the vintage clothing,” Williamson said. “You find something new and something old, and it’s fun because it’s like oh my gosh, that’s my grandmother’s bedroom set. And she wore a robe just like that one, too.”

Finding the antique store, flea market, or thrift store that is right for you is important. There are stores that specialize in the unusual items you love the most, such as antique jewelry, antique furniture, or vintage clothing and books. Still, others have no limits and will sell anything that is either old or appears to be old.

Secondhand fashion

Secondhand fashion is becoming a huge fashion trend. Online stores such as thredUP, Beyond Retro, Patagonia Worn Wear, Depop, and Poshmark are perfect for anyone who wants to thrift for “new” clothing without ever leaving home. And last year, thredUP released the results of a study that estimates the secondhand clothing market in the United States will double within the next few years.

Secondhand shops are becoming more popular with the younger generations, too, as they discover how buying quality goods that have already lasted for generations works well for those on limited budgets.

But whether you decide you like shopping online or perusing vintage clothing racks in person, the simple fact is that in NWLA you can save some serious money and ease mankind’s impact on the environment by buying used clothing. Plus you’ll feel extra sassy in a dress that could have been worn by your mother–and maybe it was once worn by your mother. You never know.

“I feel I should have been born in the 60s and 70s,” Williamson said. “One day I was in here (King’s) and bought a vintage Christian Dior dress. It’s good fabric, and it lasts—a lot of clothing from the 60s and 70s still looks brand new.”

One of her favorite finds is a vintage Christian Dior dress that she nabbed for only $75. And another dress she now owns and loves “has a little piece of lace over it so you can’t even see the seam inside the hem.”

Fab Finds in Shreveport really is a fab find if you like vintage clothing and jewelry. Image: KTAL’s Jaclyn Tripp.

M.C. Ford is a teacher on summer break, and she said when she got started antiquing, she was looking for old patches to put on a jean jacket.

“You can’t really find anything cool like that – that’s not mass-produced,” Ford said. “We like the hunt to find the stuff that you’re not going to see on everybody.”

“These vintage clothes by great designers—you couldn’t even buy a shoelace by them new today for these vintage prices,” said Williamson as Ford nods in agreement.

“They don’t make clothes this quality anymore,” Ford added.

Thrift stores

Just a few doors down from King’s, a sweet little thrift store is raising money for a great cause.

Fab Finds’ proceeds go from here, straight to the Y,” Miranda Weddleton, who smiled genuinely from behind the cash register said. “We’re all donation-based here, so anything you wanna bring—we sell housewares, clothing, and we’ve just started taking children’s clothes.”

Weddleton stressed that Fab Finds is a nonprofit that supports the local YWCA.

Miranda Weddleton shows off two of her favorite dresses at Fab Finds Resale Shop, where all profits go to the YWCA. Image: KTAL’s Jaclyn Tripp.

Thrift stores are often nonprofit organizations, with much of their profits being used to help others.

“It’s a pretty steady flow of customers,” Weddleton said of Fab Finds. “It’s not expensive, and we do a lot of sales. But I personally like to shop secondhand because you find a lot more treasures. It’s the one-of-a-kind stuff that you can find here.”

Weddleton picks out a few of her favorite dresses and laughs about where she’d wear one of them if she bought it.

“I don’t know why I’d need it, but I love it,” she said as she holds the high-waisted, loose-skirted dress up to the camera.

And if she decided to buy one of the dresses later, the little bit of money she spent on her “new” dress or dresses was used to make a positive impact in the community.

Back in Springhill, Colvin said that knowing what was valuable in the past and is not popular in the current moment is a great way to invest in antiques.

“Glassware is especially valuable,” she said.

Antique shops often send customers to one another’s businesses, as is evident by this list on the counter at King’s Antiques and More in Shreveport. Image: KTAL’s Jaclyn Tripp.

A new 50-piece set of Noritake china, for instance, can sell for hundreds or thousands of dollars. But vintage Noritake is more valuable than newly manufactured Noritake, and sometimes you can find a set for a bargain at a secondhand store.

“Carnival glass from the Great Depression is beautiful,” Colvin said. “And flea markets are where you can find deals on antique glassware.”

And one of the best things about second-hand shops is that prices are usually negotiable. Don’t be afraid to make an offer if you find something that you want or need.

A few of Colvin’s favorite NWLA antique stores

Colvin’s favorite towns to buy antiques have clusters of small second-hand shops. She adores GG’s Classic Collectibles in Springhill and recommends taking the old river road off the beaten path over to Dixie. She also loves stores in Plain Dealing, Benton, Springhill, and little places around Belcher.

Louisiana vintage shopping suits many different types of buyers–from those who like to shop in both rural and urban landscapes.

“That triangle is rich with stuff,” Colvin said of the stores along the river road towns between Dixie and Mooringsport. “And with each year that passes, what used to be secondhand is now considered antique.”

Another pro-tip: If you want to find some of the best deals in the region, don’t forget about the little town of Homer in Claiborne Parish.