Antiques shopping is a rather new hobby for me and started quite by chance. We moved into our current place & needed a couple of new pieces (doesn’t one always?!) & so we quickly found ourselves rather tired of the same-old same-old we were seeing in retail stores.
While the idea wasn’t brand spanking new to me, I’d already mentally decided this would be awfully boring but agreed to tag along anyway, just to try it out.
What followed was a string of weekend mornings and public holidays spent walking door-to-door in the various antique strips in Jozi. We could easily spend an hour + in some of the bigger stores, taking pics & measurements of items we liked and debating whether it was “us”.
I’m sure you’ll agree with that cliché that they don’t build homes quite like they used to. Well the same really does apply to furniture. Most antique pieces are very solidly built with decades left in them and in good stores, they’ve been restored and well cared for too.
Contrary to my misplaced perception antiques are generally not cheaper than buying items from (quality) retail stores, in fact I often found it to be as expensive and sometimes even more expensive. But then I’m a firm believer that you get what you pay for. I also really liked the appeal of owning something that had a story, a heritage and was likely to be a once-off piece. I quickly became addicted – and so my new (read expensive hobby) began…
Some of my favourite antique shopping spots/markets in Jozi:
- Queens Street, Kensington
- Long Street, Newlands
- Parkhurst/Parktown North
There are also antique stores in a few malls – Killarney, Nelson Mandela Square and The Mall, Rosebank but being in malls the store itself is quite tiny and thus the selection is rather small. And with rent to pay, I’ve found the pricing higher too.
I found above brass picture frame at Maple Galleries and asked them to remove the glass and convert it into a mirror. It’s now one of my favourite piece on my beside table.
Hat boxes is a personal favourite of mine because my hats kept lying all over the place and getting damaged. I’m now also using hat boxes to store other items – swim suits, gloves and accessories etc. So old school, I love!
Tips for antique shopping:
- Plan more time than you think you’ll need. Ladies, go in flats & take a bottle of water.
- Cash is most definitely king. Some stores do accept credit cards but others don’t & won’t know till it’s too late. Even if they do, you’re bound to get a better rate paying cash anyway.
- If you can help it, don’t have small kids with you and definitely no prams. These stores are not just tiny, but packed to the brim with stock with little room to move around and many breakable items in reach.
- Take pics of the items you like on your cell phone & take a pic of each one’s price tag too – stores usually don’t mind this at all. It will help a lot to jog your memory later since you’ll be able to review items and prices to make a final decision.
- Never buy an item immediately, even if you think you love it. Instead ask the store to reserve it while you keep looking as many stores have very similar items. Tell them you’ll call to let them know if you are going to take it or not later that day or the next day. By the time you call back they may even offer you a (further!) discount…
- If you’re looking for a very particular piece of furniture e.g. a dining room table, make sure you take the measurements of the space you have available for it at home – this is not the time to guess!
- Everything is negotiable in this industry & without much effort. At the very minimum on higher ticket items you should get the delivery for free.
- Ask upfront about guarantees and services should they be needed on electrical items – antique dealers are often well-connected with these specialised service providers.
- Check items out thoroughly before purchasing – understand the condition and authenticity of the item you’re buying. For example there’s a massive difference between silver and silver plated. Huge!
- Sad but true, there are some unscrupulous antique dealers out there. Ask around, you’ll soon bust them.
Happy antique shopping – can’t wait to see what you bought!