Next week marks the beginning of the 48th Annual Fall Original Round Top Antiques Fair. As frequent visitors to Round Top, we have learned a few “tricks of the trade” that help make our antique shopping seamless and efficient. PaperCity recently asked us to share our impressions on Round Top and featured our responses, along with other Houston designers, in their article, “Round Top Antiques Fair Round Up” shown below.
Round Top can seem overwhelming on your first visit. From trying to decide when to go and where to look, to figuring out how much you should be paying for certain items, antique shopping can feel like a foreign experience. We’ve created what we hope will be a helpful list of our top ten tips for visiting antique fairs. Happy shopping!
1. Dress comfortably – Serious shopping in Round Top requires stamina and hours of walking in tents and fields. Make sure to wear clothes and shoes that will be comfortable for the day. Be prepared for the Texas heat or a sudden shower so you can be pleasantly surprised on the lovely occasions when the temperature and humidity happen to be perfect.
2. Do your homework – Look online to see which vendors will be at Round Top and review any available websites to give you an idea of the types of items the vendors carry. If there are certain booths you know you want to visit, map out your plan in advance so you can be sure to fit it all in. Make a list of pieces that you are shopping for, along with the range of dimensions that will work in your space. Be sure to pack your floorplan, a scale and a lightweight tape measure.
3. Be efficient, but don’t move too quickly – While there are many advantages to visiting as many vendors as possible, it is also important to take your time while shopping. Often times the treasures you are looking for can be hard to spot from a glance, so try to be thorough in each booth. Remember that sometimes the best “finds” are items that catch your eye that you had no idea you were looking for.
4. Get to know the vendors – Developing a relationship with dealers who have items you are interested in is helpful so the two of you can stay in touch even after Round Top. If the vendor receives new shipments throughout the year, be sure to ask them to notify you in advance so you can have first access to the pieces.
5. Check for damage – It’s not unusual for antique pieces to have scratches, scrapes or dents. This is often what gives them their unique character; however; you will want to make certain the piece functions as you’d like and that you don’t have a problem with any of the imperfections. Remember, antiques are not returnable!
6. Ask questions – Antique buyers tend to be passionate about the pieces they buy. This means they often know the story behind the item or it’s “provenance.” Ask questions about the things you are interested in. The items you buy will become treasured conversation pieces in your home!
7. Take Photos –If you are certain about a “find,” you will want to buy it immediately. Antiques are typically “one of a kind,” so if you hesitate it is very possible it will be gone. If you’re not sure about a piece, take a photo of it and the tag showing the dealer’s name to review later. If you continue to think about it, it might mean you can’t live without it.
8. Stay open-minded – Think outside the box when shopping for certain items you may need. For instance, if you are looking for a large piece of art, consider the option of buying multiple small prints and grouping them together on the wall instead. The potential for finding new ways to use old items is endless if you allow yourself to be creative!
9. Ask for advice on shipping items – If you purchase a piece that is too large to fit in your car, ask the vendor if they can suggest a moving company you can hire to deliver the item for you. Shipping antiques requires special care, and it’s important to use a trusted resource. Be certain to keep your receipt, along with the dealer’s business card, cell phone number and location of the booth for each piece you purchase.
10. Have fun! Round Top is a great way to catch up with old friends from all over the state, meet new ones, and most of all, to have a good time!
“Our admiration of the antique is not admiration of the old, but of the natural.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson