Maine is a wonderful place for antiquing. Antique stores are sprinkled throughout most of Western Maine’s Lakes and Mountains Region. Many of the towns and villages have a nice mix of antique stores, boutiques and specialty stores that are ripe for the picking. But, before you head out for some Maine antiquing here are a few guidelines to follow to ensure you have a great experience and get some good finds!
Maine Antiquing Do’s:
- Research. Visit museums and art galleries to learn more about furniture and art from the era that you are looking at. This is a good way to help you authenticate an item as well, as it gives you specific features/attributes to look for.
- Know the signs of authenticity. For instance check for hand stitching, square nails, dovetailing and specific marks that indicate hand tools and finishes as these indicate that they were not machine made, or manufactured, but instead handmade. Also, don’t purchase anything that has been over-refinished as it lowers the value as it hides natural wear and tear of the wood surface.
- Ask an expert for help. If you are not sure about an item, ask an expert for help authenticating it.
- Negotiate. Antique sellers expect you to haggle, just make sure you are polite and do not insult the storeowner. A good way to phrase this question is by asking, “Is there any room for negotiation?” and going from there. Another negotiation starting point is a standard 20%. A good price is one that you feel comfortable with.
- Review prices online before shopping. By visiting different sites online you can find out the going rate for porcelain, glass, metalwork, toys, furniture, fine art and more. This will give you a good baseline to go from while negotiating or at least let you know if the item is fairly priced.
- Always go in knowing what you are looking for. If you don’t have a specific purpose and you are just looking around for fun than don’t worry about this. However, if you are going antiquing with a particular item in mind, such as a dining room table or nightstand, don’t lose sight of what you are after. Antique stores are filled with many trinkets and items and can be overwhelming leading to visual overload. You can miss what your looking for, so make sure you search the store up and down for what you want and then you can peruse.
- Ask questions. Antique shop owners expect you to ask them questions about the items. If you ask questions like “What can you tell me about this item?” or “Do you happen to know what era this piece is from?” you are likely to receive very interesting information pertaining to the item in question.
- Leave big bags or items that you have with you by the front desk. This will lessen the risk of you bumping into any items and potentially breaking something.
Maine Antiquing Don’ts:
- Don’t let price alone dictate your decision. It’s much more important to look at the value of the item than the price.
- Don’t carry your items you are thinking about purchasing around the store. If you have decided on an item, bring the item to the front desk and ask them to hold onto it while you browse.
- Don’t hesitate! When you find something you think is a gem, trust yourself and make the purchase. You don’t want to miss your chance. If the item truly is a gem, waiting to get a second opinion may be too late, as antiques can be snatched up quickly.
- Don’t insult, mock, ridicule or make fun of items in the shop. Many times the items are hand picked by the storeowner and reflect their tastes.
- Don’t allow children to run around the store unattended. There are many breakables and valuables in an antique store and you don’t want to be responsible for a broken item. It’s not fun.
Enjoy antiquing in Maine; learn more by visiting our antique stores guide.