One of my favorite things to do after vamping with my vape is to wander my neighborhood to take in the diversity that remains of the artist enclave known as Alphabet City of NYC. On my walk, I make it a point to stop in at my local vintage store: The East Village Vintage Collective. Here I am free to meander, often for hours at a time, between the two floors of colorful (sometimes corny and kitsch, but always diverse and lively) collectable items and vintage finds.
East Village Vintage Collective is run by two ingenious entrepreneurs, Maegan Hayward and Melanie On, who curate a group of vintage vendors that have joined forces to run a super-successful shop that hosts fun and interesting events on a regular basis. I’ve had the good fortune of producing performances here in the past, and I have had incredible success finding the perfect gift (they host guest vendors each week to keep the shelves and racks fresh) for friends and family.
So the last time I floated in, I asked “how does a non-expert do second-hand vintage shopping right!?” Here are a few tips that the experts at EVVC advise!
The Number One Tip Is: Do you like it? Then buy it! It’s that simple.
Kitschy Vintage Artwork – is it a Picasso, or a Steve Martin knock-off?
When buying vintage artwork you’ll always be charged more for original and authentic art, but how do you know if it’s real or not? Always look for a date, check for a signature, and if it’s in a frame, take the frame off and find a signature and/or date. This is proof of authenticity that the piece may have, or lack. Also you can look online for others like it to detect if it’s a copy, fraud, or simply a knock off.
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Vintage Jeans: How to get the correct size without access to a fitting room
Levi’s & Wranglers are popular brands but anything from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s are good jeans to find right now. Light to dark wash is good all depending on your personal preference. If you’re at an estate sale, flea market, or just a place with no fitting room, a cool trick for figuring out your size is to take the waist of the jeans and wrap it around your neck. Doesn’t wrap all the way around? The jeans are too small for you. Way overlaps? The jeans are too big? Overlaps a little or fits just right then 9 times out of 10 that’s your size. Body symmetry is pretty amazing stuff!
Vintage Glassware: Only put your lips to something that is bona fide
Vintage glassware is fun to find and can span multiple decades. Some come in large sets for major in home entertaining like those from the 40’s and 50’s and some you’ll find the perfect fit to sit on the back porch with your matching pitcher and set of glasses, sipping lemonade on a steamy summer day. Most lemonade sets were produced in the 50’s and 60’s when entertaining guests was a popular pastime and having the appropriate glassware for the occasion was put at a premium. Another type of popular glassware is character or themed glasses of the 60’s 70’s and 80’s. These glasses were usually given away with meals at fast food restaurants or in the early days when you would stop to fill up your car with gas. From Star Wars, Peanuts, Care Bears, The Flintstones, Garfield, to McDonald’s characters, and E.T. – if there was a character on TV or in a film, they were probably printed on a glass. When you find these glasses the best thing to do is again, look for a date. Usually the older they are the more valuable they are and there are certain themes that are more valuable than others, some fetching up $300 or more!
Vintage Vinyl: What’s up the sleeve, may surprise you!
Record collecting is it’s own art. Many albums have different pressings and of course the older or more limited the pressing the more valuable it is. For instance you might see a record that has been released several times so it has different dates on the back. The earlier the date the more hard to find the album is. Vinyl wears and scratches over time, so finding an old record that is in great shape is quite a feat. The most important part of the record is the actual record and taking it out of the sleeve when you find it to check for obvious scratches is key. Ask if you can play the record to test it if you can. What makes it worth even more is if the cover is also in good shape or even better if it still has the original poster or extra artwork that might have come with it inside. It’s always interesting to look inside of records because you never know what you might find. We have found everything from old playbills, to concert tickets, to actual autographs and pictures of the records original owner, with the band.
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Vintage Rock T-Shirts: See the very first rule: if you like it, buy it!
Vintage Rock T-Shirts have been all the rage over the last 10 years and the truth is, they are becoming more and more difficult to find, especially at a decent price. So, if you find one that you think might be the real deal and it’s affordable (under $20) scoop it up and take your chances. Right now shirts from the 90’s are very popular and they are going on Ebay for hundreds of dollars (sometimes more!!)! But shirts from the 70’s like David Bowie, Led Zeppelin, Thin Lizzy, etc. can also fetch a pretty penny and are even harder to find because of the fact that t-shirts do eventually turn into shreds after years of being exposed to the elements, sweat, and multiple washings.
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Keep in mind that Ebay and the Internet at large is a good place to check but you can’t confirm items value based on Ebay. There are lots of items that are priced high that sit on Ebay for ages and don’t ever sell or sell to someone that doesn’t really understand what they are paying for. Some times items had a limited release or sometimes they are bootleg versions of a licensed product and other times they might be handmade versions of someone’s favorite art or product. You have to be thorough in your investigations if you’re serious about not getting taken.