It is Day 1 of my 31 Days of Junk that I am doing as a part of the 31 Days Challenge at The Nesting Place.
Today I thought I would start out with a little junking advice, Junk 101 if you will. Today is all about the flea markets. Here are some tips.
FLEA MARKET 101
- Stay away from the rich side of town. Avoid flea markets, thrift shops and antique stores in newer, expensive neighborhoods. The thrift shops will be more likely to have new stuff than old. Vendors will be expecting you to pay big bucks. Personally, I rarely pay more than $10 for a piece of furniture, unless it is really spectacular. I usually spend more money on fresh produce than on my junk.
- Research before you go. Sometimes flea markets will post the list of vendors. If all they have is Tupperware vendors, discount cell phones and used appliances, you won’t be finding as much good junk.
- Time it right. Early in the morning the sellers are less likely to come down on their prices. Even though the best stuff gets picked over, if you can hang around the last hour or two, they will be beginning to think about not wanting to haul it home. So get the stuff you really just have to have early, and wait until the end for things you are on the fence about.
- Don’t get taken! Watch out for fake stuff and reproductions. Check and make sure wood pieces are the real thing. Kitchen collectibles are often fakes, and a lot of pottery and china can fool you. Look for age, wear, and built up patina on pieces that can only come with age. When in doubt, Google it, or look it up on eBay.
- Always haggle. Sellers usually don’t expect you to pay their first price. If they do, they should be selling at an antiques store, not a flea market.
- Always bundle. You can almost always get a better price if you bundle and buy more than one item.
- Be nice and make friends! Form relationships with sellers who specialize in your favorite things. I have vendors who search me out at some of my regular places, and I get better prices with the people for whom I am a repeat buyer.
- Stay outside! Most of the good stuff is usually outside, not under the covered buildings. That is where the sunglasses, cell phones and incense are.
- Make a list! Take a list of the things that you are looking for so you don’t get distracted.
- Hold it! If you are looking for furniture, you definitely need to get there early, it goes fast. When you first get there, cruise through once looking at big items, and be prepared to make a quick decision. Most vendors will hold large items you purchase for you to come back later and pick up, but ask before you give them your money.
- Look high, and look low. I have found some great stuff hanging from the ceiling of a tent, in the back of their truck, and under tables. And under their rear ends. My husband and I have actually bought chairs out from underneath people.
- Bring cash. Extra cash. Make sure you have a ton of ones and quarters. No one ever has change.
- Be prepared! I take a folding wagon, a water bottle, tape measure, grocery bags for packing and padding, my list, cash, and I love to have my iPhone and/or iPad so I can look stuff up.
- Don’t be shallow! Don’t get caught up in color or dirt. Look at the shape and bones of a piece. Color can be fixed with paint, and things can be cleaned up.
- Go with your heart. I have been really lucky with my purchases. I have bought a $200 chest I sold for $2200. I spent about a quarter on a $1200 antique silver ladle. But I didn’t buy those things because I knew how much they were worth, I bought them because I loved them on sight! Buy with your heart and you can’t go wrong.
- Know when to walk away. When I ask how much something is, and they somehow insert “on eBay” in the answer, I immediately turn and walk away. I usually have in my mind what I am willing to pay for something. I am always prepared to bargain, but if it is way off I am not going to waste my breath. You wouldn’t believe how often they call after me when I leave, ready to be more reasonable. There are a ton of vendors at my regular haunts who have had some of the same merchandise for months because they are asking antique store prices at the flea market.