Coastal Style

How to Really Score in the Flea Market

June 25, 2019

If you are not a seasoned shopper, flea markets may be difficult places to navigate. But there are a lot of approaches to guarantee you’re getting a good deal while having a fun, relaxing Saturday or Sunday from the procedure. Prepare yourself with these eight tips and you’ll be well on your way to trolling the stalls with confidence and leaving your booth of choice with something that you love.

Liz Williams Interiors

1. Get there early. Picture this: It’s 5 a.m. in early April. There we are, my mum and I, in the predawn darkness, unpacking boxes of items we expect to sell at the market that day. In a matter of seconds, flashlights and headlamps are shining on us from every direction. People are running, aiming their concentrated beams into our still-full boxes, in our cars that are loaded. They trot by shouting, “Majolica!” “Records!” “Art pottery!” “Costume jewelry”

All these die-hards paid $40 to catch whatever they could before the market’s official 8:00 opening. This is what you are up against.

Get to the market as soon as possible to catch sight of every dealer’s primo goods.

Wallpaper Collective

2. Dress down. Tone down your appearance. Remember: You’ve come to get a deal. Park that the Benz in an inconspicuous place, do not prance through dressed in your Sunday best and abandon the 3-carat stunner in your jewelry box. If you are overdressed, things will probably be overpriced.

Rupal Mamtani

3. And remain late. Dealers marvel at the prospect of repacking 17 boxes and traveling back home with a complete van. Their sole mission: Getting rid of as much as possible while creating a good chunk of change. (Why else would they awaken at 3:30 a.m. and then roast daily at the afternoon sunlight?) The closer it gets to closing time, the more a dealer is ready to negotiate the price of an item which has not sold.

Ryland Peters & Small | CICO Books

4. Ask questions. See something similar to what you want, but not precisely? Query the dealer. Odds are, he or she has it back at the home, shop or storage facility and will offer to bring it to the market next week. How’s this for service?

Similarly, aim to find out about a piece’s provenance or at which the dealer found it ; a narrative always adds to a product’s allure. Ninety percent of those pleasure to be had at market is hearing all the stories — I could do it all day long. (This may also enable you to hone your flea market eye and help you in building dealer attachment, equally crucial from the fine art of number five.)


100 Paper Tags, Assorted Rainbow, by FraSizzle – $12

5. Haggle. Always Request a deal. It’s a centuries-old trustworthy practice at every flea market worldwide — from Brimfield’s stalls to Morocco’s souks. Politely saying the words, “Can you do any better with this?” (in the appropriate language) won’t be fulfilled with insult; instead, it usually results in at least a 10% decrease in price. (When a dealer won’t budge, it’s probably because she or he paid too much for the item, so savings can not be passed without a reduction.)

Lauren Liess Interiors

If you are buying more than one bit from a dealer, it’s customary to ask for a discounted price on the grouping, too. Generally, $5 off is your cap, but dealers will throw in free items. Look around for books (usually quite cheap) or statement-worthy decoration to put on shelves, or maybe another bit for an existing collection.

6. Learn to see potential. Oh, you are going to see items in a variety of states of disrepair at the current market, but they are usually priced accordingly. Just as a tablecloth has a stain, a skirt is missing a button or a couch is in need of some TLC does not make it useless. When something is offered for a tenth (or even a hundredth) of its own retail price, the time and effort to refurbish and reupholster is well worth every penny.

Plus, one of a kind is far better than run of the mill. Go the distance to make objects distinctly yours, possibly with a coat of bold-colored paint or brand-new hardware.


Painted Bias Armchair – $1,598

Restain or substitute run-down image frames and sew patches on a jean jacket or a vintage Pendleton blanket. Friends will be dying to know where you got your traditional or modern side seat or the acid-yellow bar cart — but they’ll never have the ability to discover it ; that’s custom, baby.


Pixar Articulated Brioche Tin Table Lamp by Flea Market Rx – $280

7. Limit mistakes. Each of the pros have spent years in the business honing their eye, learning to identify diamonds in the rough. What you do not hear is that every has made many poor buys (aka useless crap) as they have come up the ladder. Learning to restrict these over time is how you actually get the best deals and discover the best stuff. Here are a few good rules of thumb because you walk about:

For starters, do not purchase a lamp if you don’t understand it works. Locate a supply of power and check it out — never just take somebody’s word for it. Sure, it could have worked yesterday or a week, but when it’s old or the car ride was rough, it’s really anyone’s guess now.


Vintage Fall Branch Glasses with Wise Apple

Run your finger across the bases and edges of every piece of ceramic and glass you purchase; you might not see chips or cracks, but your palms always find them.

Additionally, if a label reads “as discovered” or “as is,” there’s a flaw even in the event that you don’t notice one. Inquire about it. (P.S.. The price has already been adjusted.)

Kay Wade, Closet Factory

Be sure all the components to a gadget or toy are at the box or taped to the thing before walking away.

Purchase and take a jeweler’s loupe (to search for little manufacturer’s marks) and find out the symbols for gold and sterling silver (“sterling” or “925”).

Jeanette Lunde

If you are scouting furniture for a specific room, assess the space (and doorways) ahead and take a tape measure round with you at the market.


Giant Antique 1920s Mazda Westinghouse Lightbulb by Austin Modern – $22

8. Buy what you like. It’s really that simple. And it bears repeating: Sometimes something goes to you.


Cast Resin Horse Head – $225

For this reason alone — not because something is collectible, it’s old or it’s well worth a ton of money — you need to jump on it and not worry. Don’t be afraid of buying something you enjoy, if you are able to afford it.

More: Secrets to Shopping Craigslist

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