Katherine Raz, co-founder of The Vintage Bazaar
What are your favorite spots to score great vintage finds?
"Hands down, estate sales. They feel the most to me like a treasure hunt. And I've consistently found great stuff at sales."
What are your personal vintage shopping guidelines?
"Because I re-sell most of the stuff I buy via BackGarage, I started a new rule for myself at the beginning of this year. I don't pay more than $100 for anything I can't flip in a month for at least three times that much. This basically means I haven't paid more than $100 for anything in six months. And I've been finding great stuff at thrift stores lately for cheap. I always buy teak bowls and silver-rimmed cocktail sets, Dansk plastic serving pieces designed by Gunnar Cyren, anything Heller, metal up lights in various colors and high intensity desk lamps, retro magazine racks and bar carts, and anything from the '70s that has the word of what it is written on the front of it in Helvetica."
What are you tips for incorporating vintage pieces into modern homes and wardrobes?
"I think whether you're decorating an apartment or creating an outfit with vintage pieces, the key is moderation. Mix different styles and eras so you don't look too same-y. Just as a living space doesn't look good all decked out in only 1950s retro atomic lamps. Turquoise sofas and kitsch paintings, people don't look great wearing only pieces from a certain era. If I wear vintage it's usually a jacket, footwear, handbag, jewelry, or other key accessories over my staple dark-colored cotton 'uniform.' It really makes the unique vintage items stand out versus if you're dressed like you're looking into a storefront window television display during the Kennedy presidency, cat-eye glasses, white gloves and all."
Any words of advice for those new to vintage shopping?
"Trust your own eye. When you're hardcore vintage shopping at thrift stores and estate sales, sometimes you see something in the wrong context and you'll pass it by, but it could be a fabulous piece. Sometimes it helps to shop with a partner so you can be like, 'I can't tell if this is cool or not. Is it?'"
Tell us about your favorite vintage shopping experience.
"I don't have one particular story, but lately I've been running into a lot of my favorite vintage dealers and collectors at estate sales. I'll be waiting outside a house and someone I know will come out carrying something I wanted to buy, or I'll be leaving with my arms filled with treasures and someone I know will be shaking their fist like 'Damn you!' But of course it's all in good fun and not actually competitive. I think we all respect what each other does and what we each bring to the scene. The best is when we see each other at sales and someone has just bought some huge piece they have to wrangle into a van or drag out of a basement. It's either, 'Ha! Glad that's not me today,' or, 'Okay, damn, I guess I will help you.' A couple weeks ago I was all the way up in one of my secret thrift stores in a tiny beach town in Michigan, and I ran into someone I knew there. She was like, 'Katherine?' and I'm like, 'Alright, this is ridiculous!' We're 120 miles from Chicago and we still are running into people we know. It's fun."
Photos: Courtesy of Katherine Raz