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Tuesday
Jun282011

Vintage Décor, A How-To Guide to Find Stuff

If any of you brides are like I was, you’re constantly thinking about your décor, how everything is going to come together….IF it’s going to come together. You live with this low, constant hum in the back of your head that you know are all the details trying to sort themselves out, whirling around in a slow churn as you go through your every day routine of work/eat/plan wedding/sleep. That stuff? That buzz? That’s the shit that gives you those wedding nightmares of having no dress, no groom or like me, no reception venue! Aaaaah! I think that’s about when I started blogging…..but I digress.

Hopefully I can help.

Sometimes when I’m talking about wedding décor, I reference the same crazy things over and over – like adorning each cute favor with an antique key. I don’t know why I choose this icon, probably because at one point in time, I saw antique keys as a favor and thought they’d look really cute as part of our tablescapes and really had no idea how to find them, nor the time to do so. Antique keys are going to be the example I’m going to use for how to find good vintage décor stuffs. This can be applied to Mason jars, hobnail milk glass, mismatched floral china teacups…whatever you want/need.

If you’re an on-line wedding planning gal like most brides are these days, use the internet to your advantage. You’ll need to do a smidge of research first.  You could say that about everything you purchase for your wedding. Yes, it’s a total pain in the ass, but welcome to the real world. Sometimes, you’ve gotta practice due diligence. But I think the process I have outlined here will help.

Now, I’ve found vintage skeleton keys ranging anywhere from $.75 to $20 each. Look for the average price. I found that the average price for vintage keys is between $3 and $5 based on several different resources. You’ll want to pay $3 or less, but only if you’re going to buy in quantities. If you only need a few, pay the asking price but no more than the top range of your average price. Make sense?

Let’s assume you need at least 50 assorted keys. You might need to buy from a myriad of places, so keep that in mind. Here are a few places to start:

First, look at Three Potato Four. This is a very cute, very cleanly laid out online shop of cool vintage goodies. They even have a wedding section!

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Their keys sell three for $12. Not bad…..but we can do better.

Next, hit up eBay and Craig’s List:

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I found these on Craig’s List in Charlotte for $20. There are 14 keys here so that means they are $1.43 each. However, it looks like 3 or 4 of them are kinda like “junk” keys, so that means they are more like 1.80 or so. Best thing about this is you can offer $15, maybe pay $18 and get them down to about $1.60 each.

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I found these on auction on eBay for $21.50 (so far). These are great looking keys, and there are 24 of them. That puts them at $.90 each! SCORE! However, it’s bidding item, so the price might go up.

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I found these under vintage skeleton keys on Etsy. These are $14 for 8 keys, so $1.75 each. Not bad, but no so great either.

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Then I found this very cool site, called Kennedy Hardware where you can buy a gross (144 pieces) of six keys for $108.00! That’s only $.75 a key and all in one shop!

The bummer about all these online options is that those costs do not include shipping. The gross amount above is $14 to ship, so changes the each price to $.84, which is still the best so far.

Now, if shipping is eating into your budget, you need to start hitting up some thrift shops and flea markets. Save yourself some time on the thrift shops and call ahead and ask if they have them. For flea markets, plan on comfortable shoes and ALWAYS carry cash. I attended the Metrolina Antique Show in April (going again on Thursday!) and found vintage keys for $3.00 each. I didn’t ask for bulk prices, but definitely would have. Let the dealer know up front that you want to buy a lot. Tell them how many and let them quote you first. Here’s how I negotiate: first, know how much you want to spend walking into the situation. If your budget is $1 a key, plan for that. Know that if the asking price is $3.00 a key, you probably won’t get that $1 unless you’re buying A LOT. The trick is figuring out how desperately the dealer wants the sale. When I negotiate in bulk, I start with half the asking price, knowing I probably won’t get it, but will expect 25-30% off the original cost. Some people get really pissy when you negotiate. It’s OK, let them. You’re working on a business deal, not becoming besties with the dealer. You just need to be willing to walk away, and perhaps eat some crow and come back and pay what they’re asking if you realized too late that you low-balled them. Again, if you look at it as a business deal (which they should), then there won’t be any hard feelings. It’s best to shop the whole market first, taking either physical or mental notes of the pricing at different stalls. Once you do a full sweep, go back to the places with the best prices and see what you can negotiate.

Also, check out estate sales in your area. If you Google “estate sales” plus your area of residence, some helpful links will pop up. These are definitely more of a hunt and peck kinda thing, but sometimes pre-sale pictures are up and you can see some of the stuff for sale. Please note that estate sales aren’t like garage sales. They are generally run by a company specializing in them and the prices aren’t always negotiable. Just an FYI if you go this route, but it can’t hurt to ask. Also, vintage stores generally accept negotiations, especially now in this ailing economy. Some clerks don’t have the power to offer lower prices, but most do. Again, the worst someone can say is no.

Now, if you don’t care if they are actually vintage or just want some look alikes, then start with shopping under “Supplies” in Etsy versus “Vintage" and like these at Oriental Trading Comapny.

Wondering what to do with skeleton keys? Here’s some inspiration:

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Source for all of the above.

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Fun stuff, right? So what are you trying to find at the right price? Is it keys? Milk glass? Wooden crates? Did you find a hermit living above his mother’s garage who was willing to part with his collection of San Francisco themed snow globes for your SF style wedding? Do tell.

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Reader Comments (3)

I'm thinking milk glass and/or mason jars. Thanks for the ideas!

June 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKelly

@Kelly, if you're in Charlotte, I have a GREAT resource for you! Email me if need be.

June 28, 2011 | Registered CommenterLouise

I have always loved the antique skeleton keys. so so cool!

June 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSharon

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