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  • Visit antique fairs, flea markets and yard sales – they can be great hunting grounds for adding to your collections. Arrive early and position yourself at the front, ready for opening time. The best pieces go quickly, so timing is key.
  • Think practically – a pair of comfortable shoes or trainers will be your best friend, and don’t forget a hat, raincoat and gloves for bad weather. Remember to: take a bag to carry small items; pack a tape measure; know your measurements for spaces at home; and bring a torch to seek things out on dark early mornings.
  • Scan stalls as you walk past at speed – dithering and stopping to look at things you do not want will waste time. The exact piece you are looking for could be just a few stalls away. If you are set on making serious purchases, friends and family will hold you up, distract you and potentially be drawn to the same things as you. Arrange to meet later.
  • Don’t pretend to be a dealer if you are not – the dealer will know and will disengage. Do bargain – ask what the best price is, know your market and recognize when to walk away. If you can afford it, don’t be indecisive: buy quickly so other customers can be served.
  • Trust your instinct – if a dealer seems odd or the goods appear to be of suspect quality, move on. Your hunch will generally prove to be correct. Make sure you know what you are looking for. For an expensive purchase, ask the dealer for a receipt that dates the piece; if it is not authentic, the dealer will be less likely to oblige.
  • If you fall in love with a piece, go with it – the chances are you will not find another again, so if the cost justifies the reward, then don’t miss out.
  • Take cash – it always equates to a better price. Or just set up a mobile payment account on your phone for speed. Buy quickly, pay, and then return for the goods once you have finished trawling. Do make a note of the dealer’s mobile (cellphone) number, though.
  • Consider transport – if you are looking for large items, it might be worth renting a van. Take enough blankets to protect purchases. Ropes or bungee cords are also very useful for securing pieces safely.
  • Trends come and go, so trust your own judgement and eye – above all, have fun and enjoy the buzz of the find.

Extracted from Curate by Lynda Gardener and Ali Heath