Flea Market Savvy

Prepare before going

Flea market shopping can be fun and an economical way to decorate your home or buy gifts in a time of tight budgets. However, the experience can be stressful and overwhelming if you haven't planned properly. If you want to be a pro at shopping at flea markets, then here are many useful tips and strategies.


What to take with you

Depending on the weather, wear clothing that you can layer and don't mind getting dirty.

Comfortable shoes.

Sunglasses, sunscreen, and a brimmed hat if the market is outdoors.

A large tote bag, which includes hand wipes or sanitizers, bottled water, pen, paper, cell phone, and bubble wrap for fragile collectibles you may purchase.

A flashlight if you go out before the crack of dawn.

A tape measure to measure a item if you are looking for something to fill a particular space.

A magnifying glass to examine hallmarks and small pieces, especially glass and jewelry.

Also have an up-to-date price guide to help you identify a real bargain and not overpay on items.

Heavy rope or bungee cords to secure items to hold down car trunks or secure larger items in a truck.


The best time to arrive


The best time to go to a flea market really depends on what you are looking for. For one-of-a-kind items, the best time is at the crack of dawn or when a flea market opens. At many flea markets, die-hard collectors will arrive early before actual opening to try and negotiate prices even before all the goods are unpacked. It's worth a try, and many sellers are eager to work with you. On the other hand, later in the day is when products are oftened marked down, merely to save the seller from having to re-pack everything. This may sound silly, but it is true that if the weather is turning inclement, sellers will mark down items fast before rain, snow or sleet shuts them down. If you are just a causal buyer, then any time of day is good to shop, especially midday which is the quitetest time. Most collectors and antique dealers have already come and gone, so crowds are smaller.

Sterling silver napkin ring
Sterling silver napkin ring
Antique chair. Flea market find
Antique chair. Flea market find

Don't be faked out

Items can be made to look as if they are aged and have value, but are in fact knock-offs. Likewise, items may be marked as new, but are old and placed among new items to make them appear new. Experienced buyers can pick up on fakes more readily but the casual shopper would hardly spot the difference. Be careful. Take for instance an antique dresser; the dresser should show concentrated wear around the drawer handles. If you find an 19th century wooden chair, it should show scuffing around the stretchers where many feet have rested over the years. Last but not least, if you want to become a serious collector or shopper, then do your homework and study-up on items that you have a sincere interest in buying.

Be a proud Haggler

 Don't be shy are afraid  to ask  for a price reduction. Now is the time with the world economy in the dump,people are ready,willing, and eager to sell. The most tactful and diplomatic way to seek a price reduction is to say, "Is this your best price?" The worst thing is that the seller will be firm in the price, but it doesn't hurt to try. Another tactic is to propse a lower price where the seller may listen. Don't cut ther price in half because that will only hurt your chances of landing a deal. Again as I mentioned earlier, the end of the day at the flea market may possibly give you steeper discounts.

Much success on future ventures in Flea market world.  Share any tips you may have in the comments section.

Comments 8 comments

ang 8 years ago

Good tips....I'll put them to use.


laringo profile image

laringo 8 years ago from From Berkeley, California. Author

Thanks Ang, You really can get  more out of flea market shopping if you are somewhat prepared, otherwise you can become overwhelmed and blind-sighted. Good luck in your shopping adventures.


Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

I used to go hunting in the flee market forest until I decided to become a minimalist. Now I just yearn for the fun it was to dig around in good junk.

Love the hub regards Zsuzsy


laringo profile image

laringo 8 years ago from From Berkeley, California. Author

Zsuzsy, remember the saying;"another man's junk is another man's treasure".


laringo profile image

laringo 8 years ago from From Berkeley, California. Author

Lady LaShonda; I hope you got a chance to read my Hub! It has really good information.


johnny yuma1 7 years ago

I got a great tip from a man that also sold things through flea markets. He told me one time that he would go around to different markets early in the morning and see what they had then about 2:00 or 3:00 in the evening and that time he would ask how much for everything left. By that time here in Arkansas in July and August people were ready to deal. He said that he would usually get a good deal on the remainder of things. He then took it home and got it ready to resell the next weekend or whenever. He told me that he made as much at that as he did at his regular job, which was repairing washers, dryers, air conditioners etc.

Johnny Yuma


laringo profile image

laringo 7 years ago from From Berkeley, California. Author

johnny, it can be a good business if you are smart about when you go and what you buy, especially if you have an expertise in something like restoring furniture or repairing appliances.


donotfear profile image

donotfear 7 years ago from The Boondocks

I love flea markets and thrift stores. I visit the Salvation Army thrift store every week. I've found that the best deals can be found at the outdoor flea markets and non-profit thrift stores. I'm hooked. Love your article.

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