If you want vintage or older style beads then you will need to take a day and be willing to get a bit dirty and pick through a few boxes, but the prize will be worth it in the end!
Garage Sales – This would be your first stop. You could plan your route based on garage sales posted in the paper. These ones tend to be larger serious sales and are more likely to have craft supplies as well as old costume jewellery for sale too and many other items to pick through. Keep an open mind and while looking see if there are beads on older clothes or really cool buttons that can also be used as beads for many projects.
It may not always be exactly what you are looking for, but sometimes these are even better items! Keeping an open mind and some project ideas in mind while wandering the garage sales is a perfect idea. The bigger the sale the better chance of finding what you are looking for. So, to save precious time, try sticking to the larger combined sales you find on many streets now, where a few families will combine into one sale.
Remember, you can get some great beads from older costume jewellery, you simply take it apart or fix what was made for a great vintage piece. Some of the older costume jewellery used vintage plastic flower beads that you just can’t find any more in supply stores.
Re-use Centers – This is my favourite place to find vintage anything! You will be surprised to see just how much stuff can end up at these centers. Check in your area to see if you have one, the one that is near me is basically a recycling center that started taking reusable items to help fund the center. It grew and quite a few have sprung up.
Also check your local dump to see if they have a re-use section. You may not find anything or you may find a jackpot you just have to be willing to really search through boxes. Many families will clear out an older relatives home maybe because of them passing or moving into a home, but for whatever reason you will find boxes of vintage craft supplies, patterns, music and all kinds of neat things. I even found a box of vintage fabric and lace that was basically dumped at this center, it was beautiful.
Be careful not to drag too much home, but I used to find old craft patterns and sell them on Ebay for a few extra dollars.
Estate Sales – This can be a great source of vintage plastic flower beads and other vintage glass or Swarovski beads. These sales are usually posted in your local newspaper and you can go to the house and look over all the things that are for sale. Many times you will find them boxed into categories, such as boxes of records, or boxes of craft supplies, and you may be expected to purchase the whole box. Some of these sales are auction based, but many just want to get rid of everything.
If the price is right this will still be worth it to find those vintage beads or supplies. Also look at any boxes of older vintage clothing and see if there is any costume jewellery in them or other types of jewellery, you can always take them apart to get the beads you want for your projects.
Consignment Shops – These are worth checking if they tend to carry vintage clothes as they will likely be accepting vintage jewellery as well and you may get lucky with some vintage plastic flower beads or other beads. You may have to pay more for this type of store but depending on the beads you are looking for, it will be worth it as many can’t be purchased new.
Word of Mouth – Let all your friends and family know that you are looking for vintage beads, and they will think of you when going to garage sales themselves or visiting relatives that are having a good cleanout. This way the word gets out and it is like having a much larger scale search for the best vintage beads. Be ready! You might get boxes of all kinds of beads, but that can be good too!
Ebay – It can be worth checking online at sites such as Ebay as they have a section for bulk items. Many people will package up boxes of stuff and simply sell them in bulk for a set price. Usually they are all similar items in the box. I have done this before, and it was a surprise box, and I found the supplies I wanted, and then sold off the rest back on Ebay!
Head out of Town – Next time you are on vacation or visiting another city check around there for reuse centers or vintage stores or consignment shops and see what they have available. Sometimes simply going to another area will net you some great finds! Vacations are a great way to source out some vintage plastic flower beads, glass beads, Italian glass beads and more.
So, don’t forget to search for your beads while looking for souvenirs while on that next holiday. Just make sure and get a receipt for customs if you are out of country to prove you purchase these beads.
The above spots can be a great source of vintage beads, just remember you may not get them all cute and in a package, you may need to buy old costume jewellery to get the beads you want. So, you need to “think outside of the box” and let your mind get creative while searching.
You could simply rewire these old beads into something chic and trendy for yourself or to sell. Vintage is hot right now, so finding anything from the 60s, 70s and 80s works well.
Vintage Beads Online
Amazon Price: $8.41 Buy Now
(price as of Jan 19, 2014)