10 tips for conquering the flea market like a pro


collection of vintage finds from a flea market
Sometimes I do weird things like stage pictures of my flea market finds!

I missed many things when the world shut down due to COVID. Seeing family, eating inside restaurants, birthday celebrations, sipping on coffee while walking through target (why is that so magical?!), and treasure hunting at flea markets. I love them because they are a treasure trove of unique vintage furniture and home decor and often at a great price. There's nothing like the giddy excitement of wondering what things you will find. It's like waking up on Christmas morning as a kid! You just never know what gifts await you under the tree.


Now that everything is opening back up, flea markets are sure to follow. If you've never been before, the first time can be overwhelming. So many vendors, so much to look at! So I thought I'd share some things I wish I had known the first time I hit up my favorite flea market. Take note of these 10 tips and you'll conquer the market like a pro.


  1. Timing is Everything. The early bird gets the worm. The good stuff always gets snatched up quickly. On the other hand, vendors often lower their prices or are more willing to bargain at the end of the day because they want to get rid of as much as possible.

  2. Bring something to cart your purchases in. A wagon, yard card, or collapsible shopping cart will do the trick. You're not going to want to make trips back to your car. It's a pain in the butt and sometimes a loooong walk. And you don't want to miss out on buying something you love because you don't have enough arms to carry it. Plus when you don't have to hold things in your hands, they're free to look through the merchandise.

  3. Bring cash. I have found that most vendors do not have credit card processing machines. It also helps having small bills. They will appreciate not having to break a $20 for something that costs $2.

  4. Bring Hand sanitizer and wipes. Some vendors clean their goods and others don't. Which means years of dust and dirt. Your hands will thank you when you have a way to clean them off.

  5. Bring a magnet and a tape measure. A magnet will help you figure out if something is truly brass, copper, or bronze. A magnet will not stick to those metals. If you're looking for something of a particular size you definitely want to bring a tape measure.

  6. Inspect thoroughly before you buy. I can't tell you how many times I bought something I was super excited about only to bring it home and have my husband say "you know it's broken right?" No. No I didn't. If I had just slowed down a second and really looked at it before I bought it, I would have noticed.

  7. Know when to bargain and when not to. If something is already priced fair and you're getting a good deal, it's not worth haggling over a few dollars. You risk offending the vendor. If you think something is overpriced you can ask, "Are your prices firm?" or "Would you be willing to take X for this?"

  8. Try to get the back story. Ask if the vendor knows anything about what you are buying. It's always fun to learn the story behind something with history.

  9. If you love it jump on it. I still daydream about a beautiful vintage crane print that I hesitated on. When I first saw it, I loved it. But I second guessed myself. "Is it too colorful?" Once I stopped over thinking it and went back to buy it was gone. Someone got lucky, it just wasn't me.

  10. Bring Snacks. If you're a total psycho like me, you won't want to stop to eat. You might miss something good!

Now you're prepped and ready to go. Happy hunting and may the odds be ever in your favor!

 

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