Pro tips: How to shop in an antique store

Garrett Kemp of The Market at Circa 1857 shares tips on how to shop at an antique shop like his.

Walking into an antique shop can be both entertaining and overwhelming. If you’ve ever wondered how to shop in an antique store, we’ve got some tips from a Baton Rouge pro. 

Garrett Kemp owns The Market at Circa 1857 on Government Street. He’s been there for seven years now, so he knows a thing or two about shopping for antiques. 

Related content: The Heart of Louisiana: Antique Printer

One observation he makes is that you’ll easily spend hours inside an antique shop. Essentially, you walk into a shop like this when you have time to kill. Usually, there are never two of the same thing, so you’ll spend most of your time just laying your eyes on everything. This means sweeping your eye line from the ground of the store up to the highest shelves or ceilings. However, that doesn’t mean you’ll truly see everything.

Another point Kemp makes is that you’re not going to see everything in one trip. Antique shops are typically laid out in a way where you scoot through hallways or aisles to slowly stare at items on the shelves. With so much to look at, you’re bound to miss some things. Plus, antique shops get new inventory often. Things may come and go pretty quickly in a shop, so you’re best bet is to just look at what you can within a certain amount of time and then come back. 

Something to know about antique stores is that several different artists or buyers make up one storefront. That’s how things work at The Market at Circa 1857. Many different organizers find items they like out in the world, buy them, clean them up, price them accordingly and put them on a shelf in a certain section of the store. After a few visits to an antique store, you may find yourself buying items from a particular seller because you like their taste. This is why it’s good to return to an antique store after one visit because you can get to know the styles each seller brings to the table. 

Also happening on Government Street: Japanese ice cream joint opening in the Electric Depot this summer

Finally, you can’t really walk into a shop with a mission. Chances are you might not find that one particular item you walked in looking for because every antique shop is different. Kemp explains that really what should happen is that you walk into a store like his to browse. Then, you see something that you’ve been looking for months or years. That’s when you buy that unique vintage pocket knife you’ve wanted for so long. It can be a pretty satisfying moment. 

Browsing in an antique shop is a fun way to spend the afternoon. Going with someone, like a friend, is especially fun. You can share your finds with each other. My favorite is when I go shopping with my mom or dad and they say things like, “I had this record when I was a teenager.”

If you want to test your antique shopping skills, stop by The Market at Circa 1857 on Government Street. There is lots of vintage finds and local art in this nearly 4,500 square feet space. The shop is open seven days a week from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.