Best Places to Score Authentic Farm Finds


One of the most asked questions I receive is from folks wondering where and how I find all of my authentic farm decor pieces. Today, I’m sharing my 9 secrets to scoring your own treasures.

I have to start off by sharing a big disclaimer. Namely, the fact that I do this full time. Having a vintage shop and DIYing our fixer upper farmhouse means that I spend a great deal of time hunting for old junk.

I think it’s important to say this upfront because social media often works like an illusion.

Every day, I share photos of our home or shop, but you (usually) only see the pretty finished product. The reality is that there’s a whole lot of work going on behind the scenes to make each of those polished images possible.

There are a lot of road trips. There’s a ton of storage. There are frustrating days and wasted time when I come home empty-handed. There are countless bruises and sore muscles. And, there is a LOT of dust, dirt, cobwebs, and grime. (If you’ve ever run into me at the shop, you’ve probably seen me covered in it!)

The sheer volume of goods that I have to source in order to keep things
running is simply not realistic for the average person. But this is my full
time job.

So, how does a normal person find authentic farm treasures when you can’t devote 6 days a week to the hunt? Let’s dig in…

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post, and I have received no compensation for sharing anything in this post. Some links that follow may be affiliate links, and I might earn a commission if you make a purchase through that link. This usually amounts to cents, not dollars, and helps to support the projects featured on this blog. I only recommend products from companies that I have found to be trustworthy. Read my full disclosure here.

1. Boutique Vintage Shops

The easiest and, in my opinion, best way to score vintage treasures of any kind is through vintage shops. I’m not saying this simply because we have a shop of our own, but because vintage shops are like having your own personal curators of treasures.

Just like us, there is an entire community of folks who do this full time…scouring every nook and cranny to find the best stuff, cleaning it up, making repairs, and beautifully staging it for you so that you can be inspired by visions of how it might look in your own home.

True, you will pay a little more for the service that a vintage shop is providing. But, you also get to take your pick of the very best collection of stuff without ever breaking a sweat.

Even though we run a shop, we patronize a great deal of our local vintage merchants because if I’m looking for something in particular, or even just wanting to be inspired by seeing something used in a way I’d not imagined, vintage shops are THE place to go.

You can also feel good knowing that when you support a small local shop, you’re supporting a real family as well as your community. {Read this post about why I choose to shop small}

2. Make Friends With Shop Owners

Sometimes, even when you give your business to local vintage shops, you’ll find that there’s still something in particular that you’re seeking but can never seem to find. This is when it helps to have friends in the business!

I’ll say this again because it bears repeating–vintage shop owners do this work full time. They come across loads of items every week that would take an average person months…maybe years…to discover.

Use this knowledge to your advantage!!

Take the time to get to know shop owners. But let me clarify…do this with genuine authenticity.

Shop owners get hit up all.the.time with comments like: “If you ever find a _______, please let me know.” If you want a shop owner to remember you when they’re out pickin’ and junkin’, then you’ll need to invest your time into building a relationship.

I have several regular customer who get first dibs, special pricing, and advance notice of things I’m planning to bring into the shop because we’ve built a friendship of mutuality. Spending your time to cultivate and nurture these relationships not only creates a new friend, but also a great resource.

3. Auctions

Source: Vintage Curiosity Shop

My parents had an antique shop for a while during my childhood, and we would spend almost every Friday night at the auction house. I can’t tell you how many times I fell asleep on bleachers listening to the lull of the auctioneer’s voice.

Auctions are also quite thrilling (if you’re not 8 years old and trying to stay awake past your bedtime). The rush of adrenaline that you’ll experience from bidding is very exciting, and if you win an auction at a bargain price, you’ll be absolutely elated!

To find auctions that are specific to farm items, start by doing an internet search in your area. Google a phrase like “farm auctions near me”. If you live in a city, expand your search to a nearby rural area that’s within driving distance.

That said, please know that farm auctions are generally for people looking for actual farm equipment, livestock, and even land. But, you just might find some cool things to repurpose into farmhouse decor too. Imagine: galvanized buckets, nesting boxes, rustic work tables…oh my!

4. Estate Sales

Source: Barn Sale Antiques & Collectibles

Estate sales can really be a mixed bag. First, a great deal of estate sales are truly the sale of a deceased person’s estate (usually by the person’s family). For this reason, it’s really important to be mindful about your presence in the person’s home. There may be grieving family members in attendance, and it will likely be solemn event for them, so your respect will mean a great deal.

Sometimes, the owner may still be living, but the estate sale is needed to pay for care or medical expenses. Again, this can be difficult time for the owner and their family as strangers are picking through generations of their cherished memories.

There might also be a third-party handling the logistics of the sale. They could be an auction house, or even a family friend.

For me, estate sales are always a little difficult. It feels strange to walk into someone’s home and start choosing things I want to buy. However, you’re also doing something to help the family offset their expenses, so it’s a compassionate way to support your neighbors, too.

Source: Barn Sale Antiques & Collectibles

At some estate sales, you might find enormous collections of vintage treasures, while at others, you’ll lose hours of your day digging through boxes of forgotten items stored in someone’s basement. But, these two ideas aren’t mutually exclusive when it comes to scoring amazing finds!

To find farm-style finds, look for estate sales in rural areas. If the ad mentions “tools” or “garage” or “barn”, you just might find some great items!

5. Barn Sales

Source: Barn Sale Antiques & Collectibles

Oh how I love a good barn sale! But I’ll caution you…the “real” ones are very rare.

As farm-style decor has become more popular, quite a lot of barn sales are knock-offs these days. What you’ll find are folks who are actually boutique shop owners setting up a pop-up market inside of someone’s barn. Sometimes they’ll have cool vintage stuff, and sometimes they’ll be selling reproduction items that are manufactured in China to look like old farmy items.

If the sale includes vintage vendors, I think it’s definitely worth the trip because you can score some fantastic treasures, just like shopping in vintage boutiques. Plus, the overhead expenses for these vendors is often much lower than vending in a boutique shop, so you tend to get slightly better pricing, and the vendors are sometimes even be willing to negotiate. But if you do happen to come across a real barn sale, get ready to discover amazing deals on authentic farm finds!

6. Vintage Markets

Source: The Farm Chicks

Vintage markets are pretty much my version of Disneyland. I mark them on my calendar months in advance, and I’m always so excited when I get there!

If you’ve never been to a vintage market before, imagine an entire event bringing together dozens upon dozens of vintage shops into one space. The shopping is, in a word, spectacular. {Read my guide to attending a vintage market}

There are all types of vintage markets, and given the popularity of farmhouse-style decor right now, many of them are specific to the genre or will, at minimum, have several vendors who’ve curated awesome farm finds. But you can also find vintage markets that are specific to antique furniture, collectible toys, holiday items, clothing, and even cars.

7. Craigslist

Going back to the basics is sometimes a simple way to find what you’re looking for. However, simple is not synonymous with easy.

If you’ve ever used Craigslist to shop for pretty much anything, then you probably have at least one crazy story to go along with your experiences. But, if you’re patient (and make safe choices), you can find some really cool stuff.

Follow a few important steps to make it a good and safe experience:

  • Plan all details in advance. Negotiate the price of the item before you
    meet so that there are no surprises. Ask for extra photos in advance if
    there’s something you’re questioning.
  • Meet the seller in a public place. This might not always be possible with farm items, so please use good judgment.
  • Make sure to always arrive at your pickup location with a friend when meeting a seller.
  • Keep your cell phone in your pocket.
  • Use cash only to reduce the chances of identity theft.
  • Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, follow your gut.

8. Shop Online

Source: Lynn Michelle Design

If you live somewhere that doesn’t have any boutique vintage shops, you still have options! A great deal of vintage vendors have taken their shops online, and it can be a terrific way to find something really specific, too.

Just know that shopping online for vintage farm finds is usually going to come at a premium. In addition to paying higher prices than you’ll generally find in vintage shops, you’ll often also pay for shipping.

However, supporting small shops online still supports real families and does a lot more good in the world than purchasing reproduction items from big box stores.

Two great places to search are Etsy and Ebay. I love featuring small shops and unique farmhouse items, so be sure to check out round-ups of my favorites here. And don’t forget to snag some of my exclusive discount codes here!

9. Just Ask

Honey, stop the car!” I can’t tell you how many times Rob has heard me say this while we’re driving somewhere.

Much like making friends with vintage dealers, you can also make friends with people in your community who have access to cool farm stuff.

Since we live in the country, there are old barns all over the place. Many of them are no longer used, but sometimes they still have neat industrial junk hidden inside. Getting to know the owners and seeing if they’re open to offloading any of that old stuff can benefit you both. They get some extra cash, and you take home authentic farm treasures!

Once, while I was picking up a little table I’d purchased from a lady online, we started to chat about the beautiful old barn near the house that was falling down. She shared that this was actually her parents’ home, and the reason she was selling items was to downsize her mother’s belongings so that she could move to a retirement community.

When I asked if she would consider selling anything in the barn, I found out she had scheduled to have it demolished a few weeks later. Just imagine…all of those old windows, doors, and barn wood that were just going to be destroyed by bulldozers and hauled to a landfill!!!

Without hesitation, she was willing to let me salvage anything I wanted, and we agreed to a bundled price for the three truck loads of stuff I hauled home. You’d be surprised what you’ll find inside a barn, so that day was like Christmas to me. As a bonus, she sold me things that she had thought were worth nothing and ended up making money on stuff she considered garbage! Win win!

It’s true what they say…one person’s trash might be another’s treasure!

I hope these tips help you find some amazing and authentic farm treasures. What’s something that’s currently on your wish list? Tell me what you’re hunting for in the comments below!

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  1. Thank you Thank you Thank you for your total honesty! No one understands all the hard work, the behind-the-scenes activities, the never-ending grunt work to own your own vintage/antique business! When I had my shop and people would exclaim, "I'll bet your house looks just like this!" I would bite my tongue and nod my head in agreement. I'd think, of course my house looks just like this — the part before all the prettiness you see (thinking, boxes and bins and dirt and grime…).

    1. It's definitely hard work, huh? But also a labor of love. I really enjoy the treasure hunt and feel good about saving bits of history from the landfill. But, like you, I feel the struggle! We have sacrificed our formal living and dining rooms for shop storage, plus one outbuilding and most of our garage. I'm really hoping to reclaim those spaces someday soon!

  2. So happy to have found your blog! Very interesting! I intend to spend some time here, reading and learning. One is never too old to learn new things!
    Also, love the area you are in! We are located in cold, north central Wisconsin, but I have lived here all my life, and I love it! Our winters are tough, yes, but we have wonderful Springs, Summers, and Autumns. We are on a 40 acre hobby farm in Wisconsin. I love decorating our farmhouse, and am always looking for good suggestions. I think I will find many here at French Creek Farmhouse!
    Thank you for sharing the Bunny Template! It is adorable!
    Looking forward to many interesting and enlightening reads on your blog! Sandi

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