The Hunt for Hidden Treasure: Where to Look


Your Own Backyard: Chances are there is a treasure or two waiting to be uncovered right in your own backyard. Well maybe not your backyard, but your basement, attic or garage. Take a second look at that childhood dresser that was passed down from your grandmother to your mother to you. Underneath years of paint and more paint, there could be a beautiful oak grain waiting to be uncovered.

Friends and Family: Other people have over-cluttered attics, too. Your friends and relatives may be thrilled to sell you, or even give you, furniture that is just collecting dust. Why not ask? After refinishing - Mom and Dad's first coffee table could begin a whole new life in your living room.

Classifieds: Your local newspaper is a great place to begin your treasure hunt. Not only can you find individual items for sale, but tag sales, flea markets and auctions are advertised as well.

Tag Sales: The old adage, "one man's trash is another man's treasure" is no more true than at a tag sale. It can be great fun spending a sunny Saturday seeking out the best sale in town. To find out who's having a sale, check your local paper. Others are advertised at the supermarket or posted on street corners. Decide beforehand which ones you want to visit, then be ready to do some legwork. It's important to get to the most promising sales early, before best items are taken.

Flea Markets: Flea markets vary greatly in size - from small ones sponsored by local churches and other organizations, to large, established ones with as many as 1,000 exhibitors. The community flea markets have the feel of a giant tag sale, where local people, as well as some professionals, come to sell their wares. Large sales can be found throughout the country and no two are alike. Some are open every weekend throughout the year and others are annual events. They also vary from sales that feature high-end antiques to ones where anything goes. Try a variety of flea markets to see which ones have the best furniture at good prices. Guides to the established sales are available at your local book store.

Thrift Stores: Thrift stores are best known for their used clothing but they're also a great place to look for refinishing projects. Items are donated and sold quickly, so be sure to visit your local thrift store frequently.

Antique Stores and Malls: If you're looking for higher-end furniture, antique stores and malls are a great place to start. In an antique store, the dealer sells directly to the public. An antique mall is a place where many dealers leave merchandise for the mall manager to sell on their behalf. Check your yellow pages to find the ones close by. But don't stop there. Keep your eyes open when you travel. There are many roadside antique shops. Some towns have large antique communities with one store after another. You're sure to find antique dealers almost anywhere you go. But if you want to plan ahead, you can buy a guide at your local bookstore or check the Internet.

Antique Shows: Antique shows are a great place to see lots of dealers in a very short time. Similar to flea markets, antique shows are usually run by an outside promoter and last anywhere from one day to one week. Larger shows feature several hundred dealers who sell their merchandise at booths. Some shows are specialized - for example jewelry only - so be sure to find ones that include furniture. And, as with flea markets, the earlier you get there, the better the selection.

Auctions: Auctions are a fun way to buy furniture. It is easy to get caught up in the competition and the excitement of the moment. So, it is very important to be prepared before the bidding starts. Catalogs or bid lists are available prior to the event. Review them to see which items interest you. Then, be sure to attend the preview. This is the time where you can examine a piece to determine its condition. Finally, make sure you decide how much you are willing to pay for an item before the bidding begins. Don't let yourself pay more than you wanted to because you got "carried away" by your enthusiasm.

Next Step: Let's Make a Deal

Hidden Treasure 
  Before You Start
  Where to Look
  Let's Make a Deal