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Flea Market Tips For First Time Buyers and Sellers

Updated on September 1, 2012

Flea Markets: Antique Markets

Flea markets are hot-beds of inexpensive and historical antiques.
Flea markets are hot-beds of inexpensive and historical antiques. | Source

Flea Markets offer a world of history

I've been going to flea markets as long as I can remember. My dad used to take me when I was really small and we lived in Germany. We would wake up real early and drive a half hour into Frankfurt for the weekly market. It would stretch for what seemed like miles along the Rhine river and across these two huge bridges. We would walk up and down the rows looking at every kind of junk and collectible. He got it from his dad, a textbook picker and hoarder. Granddaddy would travel each weekend with my grandma and younger uncles to every flea market and auction in the state. Their house was a treasure of history told by the artifacts of our ancestors. For a long time it was barely possible to make it from one end of the house to another due to the mountains of antiques.

My dad, and mom, still love the flea markets and auctions. My granddaddy collected old clocks mostly, but my dads taste is a little more eclectic. His passion is for old tools but any piece of antique furniture, toys or guns may catch his eye.The house is furnished with colonial oak furniture and decorated with 100 year old Planters Peanuts jars. In the barn is a collection of antique wood planes pieced together from auctions and flea markets up and down the east coast.

Americas current love affair with antiques was piqued with the Antiques Roadshow, a decades old traveling appraisal fair televised by public tv. More recently, shows like American Pickers and Pawn Stars have glamorized the business of buying and selling antiques. What could be better than travelling down old country roads and finding a cache of valuable antiques. Or better yet, cleaning out great grandmas attic and finding a never before seen Picasso of great artistic importance!

Back in my day flea markets were for selling quality items

In the "old days", you know, before plastic, picking was a viable way to make a living. Most everything was made by craftsmen, with pride in their work, from durable materials that stand the test of time. Pieces were meant to last a lifetime or longer, not to be replaced next year by the next new trend. There was true artistry in the most ordinary of items. Nothing was disposable, if you bought a razor you would probably be able to give it to your sons to use. For the picker, this meant a real market in buying and selling "junk". Things one person didn't want were sure to be needed by someone else and the flea market is the place to go and find it. These days nothing is meant to last. Can you imagine using someones old disposable razor or bidding at auction on a piece of particle board furniture from Wal-Mart? Before plastic most things were made of steel, tin or cast iron. The durability of the material and the quality of the construction are what make antiques so valuable. Each piece is like a work of art.

Today, making money this way takes a lot of work. Antiques are rarer to find and the market is getting more and more savvy. Despite these changes the flea market can still be loads of fun. People watching, haggling, browsing and of course money are all still available at the local flea market.

Flea Markets Are Good Places To Find Bargains

Flea markets are great places to find bargains on antiques, collectibles and other used items.
Flea markets are great places to find bargains on antiques, collectibles and other used items. | Source

Some Tips for Flea Market Sellers

Here are some common and not so common sense ideas to help you get the most out of your flea market experience.

1: Get there early. This is perhaps the most important. In order to get a good spot you must arrive early. Remember, some people do this for a living so they are going to try to be as early as possible. Also, early is when the real serious buyers are out. I always make my first sale while unpacking. Professional sellers will come around and buy things they think they can resell so if you want to move stuff fast early is the way to go.

2: Give it time. It takes time to sell your stuff whether its high demand antique or just average household items. Don't get discouraged because your merchandise isn't flying off the table. There are usually several waves of shoppers; the early birds, the after breakfast/pre-church crowd, the lunch crowd and the after-church/afternoon crowd.

3. Check the weather. Don't bother if its unusually cold, or wet or snowy. The best day is a nice clear warm day after a cold or wet spell, folks are just dying to get out.

4. Bundle items. Don't want to bother with a bunch of small toys, tools etc. Put them in a box together with a great price and watch it walk it away!

5. Give a good deal. People go to flea markets for a good deal, don't expect too much from your stuff. Have a price in mind but be prepared to haggle and remember, if you don't sell yours at the right price someone else will.

6. Bring some grocery bags with you, having a bag is a real bonus for shoppers. You'd be surprised how few "experienced" buyers will remember to bring a bag.

7. Don't crowd the shoppers. Be friendly, talk to people but don't be too pushy, let them come to you.

8. Do the whole weekend. For the best exposure go the whole weekend, Saturday and Sunday. This way you'll be sure to reach the biggest audience.

Some tips for flea market buyers

Here are a few tips for buyers:

  1. Look for bargains: there are many people selling at a flea market. It is likely that there will be more than chance to buy what you are looking for. Even if you do not find more than one always haggle as if there were. "the guy over there has one just like this but his is only $20"
  2. Always haggle: flea market prices are not set in stone, regardless of what the sellers may want you to think, always haggle over price, you will save even more!


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    • TMHughes profile image

      TMHughes 5 years ago from Asheville, NC

      This is true but what I go for the most is the antiques, I love looking at the old stuff. I also like the one near my house because it is also an open air market with an incredible latin american presence. yummy!

    • profile image

      theking2020 5 years ago

      In flea markets there's always incredible deals going out this can be to any buyers advantage specially if buying in large amounts.