the antique buying tour – how it works

by Sharon Santoni

table styled by Jeni Maus of found rentals,

You may have seen from my Instagram that I am hosting Jeni Maus of Found Vintage Rentals for a few days as she tours France buying for her company.

I could wax long about Jeni and her incredible talent …. she started Found Rentals just six years ago and thanks to her sure eye, her endless energy and deep rooted professional integrity she has made many people very happy as they browse her amazing  catalogue and pick out  furniture and accessories  for their very special day.  The picture above is from an event that she designed and created earlier this month – stunning!

So many people have written to me asking about how  a professional buying tour works that I thought you may like to know what we have been up to.  Jeni has shopped with me before, so we know each other well and as soon as she arrives we get straight down to business.

When my professional clients come here to shop, time is money, and it is my job to ensure that each day is used to its full, visiting fairs and dealers and finding the sort of treasure that fits best to the clients needs.


This requires planning and preparation and a knowledge of the client’s style and wish list.  Once  I know what they are after, I alert local dealers and by the time the buying tour starts a lot of the sourcing is already done.

Most  professional buyers are experienced; they make rapid and carefully balanced choices.   They know how far they can stretch their budget and also know how much they can afford to pay for each piece if it is to be sold or rented out at home.   My role here is to help them with negotiation, translation and sometimes some advice on styles and designs.


Our days start early especially if we go to a fair.   As often as possible, purchases are collected by the transporter directly,  but some stuff is stored until the tour is over and the final pieces rounded up and taken to the shipper.

Every item is listed,  photographed and labelled.  This is very time consuming but vitally important to the shipper and also to the client who won’t be seeing her treasure again for at least two months.

When we shop in Normandy, buyers generally stay here in our guest cottage, and if we head further afield we find a cute little hotel or B&B.     Lunch is often a quick snack on the move, but dinner is a time to unwind, to dissect the day and plan for the morrow.

We may cover a lot of ground on a buying tour, but we’ll always find time to pull over to take a picture, or take a detour to visit a particularly pretty village.  It would be a shame to come all the way to Normandy without going home with a head full of beautiful images as well as a cargo of beautiful treasure.

early morning mist over the river

I am grateful that this blog has led me in so many unexpected directions, and these buying tours are part of that.   It’s not only a privilege to work with such great professionals, but also wonderful to add a very human element which contrasts with my daily work,  in front of a screen writing and editing.

The next leg of Jeni’s tour takes us to the South of France, so if you want to keep up with us along the way, check in to our instagram accounts   Jeni’s is  HERE and mine is HERE.





Vicky April 22, 2016 - 12:15 am

I can’t wait to travel along with you on this adventure! May I please live vicariously through you and your client?! That last picture is pure magic!
Thanks for taking me along . . .

Sheila April 22, 2016 - 1:13 am

Any chance you will lead a tour to Provence (for pleasure) in the near future? But I certainly will enjoy your upcoming adventures…
Sheila in SF

Pamela April 22, 2016 - 1:37 am

Sounds like you get a lot accomplished in a limited amount of time. And have a little fun along the way.

Jeanie April 22, 2016 - 2:49 am

What a wonderful adventure! Thank you for sharing it with us!

Ann pauley April 22, 2016 - 3:29 am

This video is very good! Looking forward to the video on French cuisine!
I will be visiting France in August and am so very excited!

Judy April 22, 2016 - 3:42 am

Your Instagram account and your blog are beautiful treasures. I look forward to every post, every photo and video. Thank you for sharing the details of a buying tour, too! It sounds so exciting!

JaneEllen April 22, 2016 - 4:21 am

How wonderful (and lots of hard work) for you to take us along on yet another part of your career. Says so much about you Sharon to have gained trust from so many professionals, happy for and so proud to “know” you in some way.
Don’t know about other readers but this is so exciting to “participate” in some small way.
Will be anxiously looking forward to viewing any photo and info about the hunt/results.
This is so deliciously exciting. Every time I see post from you can hardly bear to wait to read. Good luck on your objective. Happy weekend

Colleen Taylor April 22, 2016 - 7:12 am

I remember Jeni’s trip from last year. My head would be spinning if I was doing this. She has quite the business I see. Anxious to catch up & see what’s going on in your world. X

Frances Judd April 22, 2016 - 9:46 am

Thank you for such interesting blogs and your photos are beautiful. My husband deals in antique maps and prints so I am especially interested in the brocante side of your business. Having lived in France for a year and then visited it every year I am transported back every time I read your blogs.

Taste of France April 22, 2016 - 10:40 am

Glad to tag along on Instagram!

Andrew Hopkins April 27, 2016 - 10:17 pm

Wow! What a amazing job you have, My first time in France I was 19 shopping for French Antique shop I opened in New Orleans. Boy do I miss those days. These days I still shop in France for antiques but on a much smaller scale. It’s a lot of work but also a lot of fun! Wonderful post!


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