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Junkin' It - Finding Treasures at the Flea Market

Updated on May 24, 2014

Roaming around the flea market, or junkin' as many have started to call it, sound like a perfect lazy Saturday or Sunday afternoon activity to me. Some may see flea markets as other people's used junk, but to me I see potential. I see that once loved piece of furniture that needs a makeover, that cast aside shirt that needs to be refashioned, or that vintage item that just needs a little cleaning to decorate my own home or fetch a nice price online.

But it's so BIG

Yes, yes... I know that some flea markets can be massive, and this may seem quite daunting, but it really shouldn't. First ask yourself what you're looking for, are you after some clothing to upcycle for a project, do you need that perfect dresser or side table for your bedroom, or are you just roaming around and looking for whatever strikes your fancy? Once you've determined your real reason for being there it will make things much easier, and you won't seem so overwhelmed by all the cool things. If you want clothes, then focus on stalls with clothes, if your just wandering and you're not a schedule, then by all means just wander and look for things that strike your fancy.

The Good and Bad

Just face it, some days at the flea market are going to be awesome, you'll find everything you're looking for and more, but others you will come out empty handed. Don't let that get you down. There are some simple things to keep in mind.

  1. The china import junk will almost always be there. I have never been to a flea market that doesn't have this stuff. At my normal places it's all right up front. We typically breeze by, but we certainly don't waste much time perusing this stuff.
  2. The produce will also be there. This I don't mind. I often stock up on tomatoes to make a big pot of marinara whenever we make flea market trips since the price of produce is often much cheaper than the big box stores.
  3. The good stuff is probably dirty!!! Well, maybe not dirty, dirty, but the good stuff, with the good deals, that you want to take home and show some TLC and maybe give a makeover is usually further in back than the cheap china stuff. Their stalls often are not very pretty, they are most likely dusty, but you never what gem you might find lurking in these stalls.

Is It Worth It? you've found the good junk in back, but now you don't know if what your looking at is a good deal or if it's really what you want. Well here are a few tips to help you out.

  1. If your looking at furniture I would advise buying things made or real wood and not the processed, pressed particle board poo. Anyone can buy that in a big box store, if you're wanting something to place in your house to last a while whether your giving it makeover or not, wood is going to last longer and look better. Not to mention, if you're going to take the time to give something a makeover, you want to make over a quality piece not a flimsy disposable item.
  2. Clothing can be tricky. There are plenty of times that I thought I had inspected an item very well, only to get home and find a hole or stain that I completely missed. Often times I can work around that with some dye or extra embellishment, but for the most part when buying clothing I opt for tear and stain free items. Of course there are some exceptions. If rips or tears are on the seam I can easily stitch those up, and a bottle of dye has been known to save the life of a stained garment. Keep buttons and zippers in mind too. I can change a zipper, but I hate to and will often put it off, so I typically shy away from items with broken zippers unless I just happen to love it that much. Buttons can be tricky too, sometimes one missing button can make you have replace all of the buttons on a garment you can't find a match. Although you can cheat this as well. You can have a different, more decorative button on the top button and then all others match, or you can have even more fun and make all the buttons different for a more eclectic look.
  3. Color is no object...well for the most part. Just because someone though they needed an avocado green coffee table doesn't mean you do too, but don't be scared to buy it. With a sandpaper, maybe some primer and a can or two of paint that 1970s reject could become your most favorite piece furniture in your home. For clothes dye is a must sometimes. Maybe your looking for that perfect black or hot pink dress and everything is a sea of white and pastels. Never fear! Grab some dye, follow the instructions and then enjoy your new garment!

Have Fun

I can tell you how to shop at the flea market all day long, but the most important thing to remember is just have fun. You never know what you may find, but a day at the flea market can often turn into an adventure.


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