Pro shoppers know that flea markets can be goldmines for rare items and bargains. However, finding these hidden gems takes skill. Prior to your next flea market excursion, arm yourself with these tips to help you shop like a pro and find the best deals.
1. Timing is Everything “The early bird gets the worm” is an understatement when it comes to flea markets. The pro shoppers know that in order to get the best selection, you need to arrive early. As the day comes to a close, prices often come down, but so does the quality of the merchandise.
2. Have a Plan Shop with a list. In order to shop like a pro at a flea market, you must stay focused as to what you need but be open to that rare, unexpected find that you just cannot pass up. A detailed oriented list complete with a measured floor plan of your home, dimensions of available space, room photos, swatches of fabric and paint color cards of different rooms are all very helpful in avoiding purchasing items that will not work. Throw a tape measure in to your handbag to do your own assessment of potential flea market finds.
3. Do a Once-Over Since you followed the “shop like a pro” mantra of arriving early at the flea market, you should have plenty of time to do a brief walk-through of the site. Grab a map if they offer one and get a feel for what vendors you would like to return to and in what order.
4. Scrutinize Items Those who shop flea markets like a pro know that most items are sold “as is” and there is rarely a return policy at a flea market. Carefully inspect items for damage, missing pieces and poor craftsmanship.
5. Be Skeptical Flea markets are often a place for dishonest vendors to showcase imitation items and antique reproductions, without coming clean. Do your homework on how to spot fakes of particular, often high-priced, items that you are interested in. Remember another tip of those who shop flea markets like a pro “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
6. Bargain…but with Respect A big tip when it comes to shopping at a flea market like a pro is- Don’t be afraid to bargain, but do so with consideration of the vendor. In some cases, the vendor has spent hours searching and acquiring these items. Often times. they are the craftsman themselves who have devoted their time and energy in creating the piece. Whatever the case, use phrases like “Is the price firm?” and “What is your best price?” Often, if you are purchasing multiple items, you can arrange for better prices.
7. Bring the Large Car…with the Proper Supplies- You can always spot those who shop a flea market like a pro for they often pull up in a moving truck! They know that if you can’t get it home, you can’t take it. There is no free shipping here. Bring a large car if you can. Pack it with items to help safely transport your items home including: boxes, bubble wrap, blankets, a tarp and rope/bungee cords (to secure items to the roof).
8. Bring a Rolling Cart….or at least a Shoulder Tote- This tip may sound silly to a novice but you would never catch someone who shops a flea market like a pro running back and forth to their car to drop off items. Their time-saving solution is to push a large rolling cart as they efficiently divide and conquer the bargains. If this seems too over the top for you, seriously consider at least carrying a large shoulder tote to transport you flea market finds.
9. Bring Cash- No checks or credit cards accepted here. Those who shop flea markets like a pro know that “Cash is king.” Bring more than you plan to spend just in case.
10. Have Fun! – Flea markets are filled with items and personalities you won’t see anywhere else. After you have followed these “shop like a pro” tips and completed your serious shopping, take some time out to people watch. Also, chatting with vendors is fascinating and can often score you items they may not have had room to take and can get them to you at a later date.