Have you discovered the joy of shopping at flea markets? Whether you are going for the first time or have been many times, read these flea market shopping tips for new ideas.
See our handy tool to find out if there are flea markets now open near you and the new rules from open flea markets on safe shopping.
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Use this handy Flea Market Finder and just enter your zip code. I love to visit flea markets when I am traveling so it is a great resource to bookmark for later.
Flea Market Shopping
Before I share the tips I’ve learned, I want to explain what a flea market is. So, what is a flea market?
A flea market is a place or event where vendors set up tables and sell or barter merchandise. Typically, items are gently used or sold at really low prices. But you might also find tables of antiques and collectibles.
There is the chance that you can find really fantastic deals – but there is also the risk that you will pay too much for something not worth much.
Follow these 7 tips before you spend money at your next flea market.
1.) Look for Unique Items That Can Be Reused
Often the most random things are sold for really low prices. Look for things that can be reused. For example, an ice bucket that can be used to hold K-Cups. Don’t overlook the quirky things that are priced low – they might just provide the home decor or storage solution you need.
2.) Bring Cash
Vendors will be more likely to barter with you if you use cash. Cards charge the vendors a small fee. But if you offer a lower price – with cash – they will be more likely to take it.
Another thing – when you bring cash, bring small bills and coins. If the vendor doesn’t have to use all their small bills to give you change, they will be more likely to give you a fantastic deal. When I am expressing interest in an item and discussing the price, I like to “show the money” coming out of my wallet so the vendor knows I am serious.
3.) Use the Map
You’ll save more money if you only go to the booths that sell the items that interest you. Most flea markets will have a map at the entrance. Grab it and circle the booths that you want to visit. Stopping by every single booth will take up more time and possibly distract you from your original shopping goals. You can also look online ahead of time so you can map out your strategy.
4.) When Bartering, Try to Buy Things in Groups
Sometimes you will have better luck getting a lower price when you buy things in groups. So instead of trying to buy just a picture frame, offer to buy the frame and the nightstand for a bargain price.
5.) Arrive Early or Stay Late
You’ll have the most access to the best deals if you arrive before the crowds. Plus, the vendors will be in the best moods, ready for more bartering. Plan on showing up at least 30 minutes early if it is a popular flea market.
If you cannot arrive early, your next best option is to stick around until closing time and make your best offer right before all the unsold items need to be packed up.
6.) Learn how to bargain
There is a right and a wrong way to bargain and doing it wrong can mean getting no discounts at all. The main rule is – be kind. Ask if the price listed is firm. Suggest buying things in groups for a discount. Don’t demand your way, be open to their prices and show respect.
If you have the right attitude, you will be more likely to get a lower price.
If a price is too high, I have had success with leaving my phone number on a business card with the name of the item I am interested in and asking the vendor to call or text me if the price drops while I am still shopping. Often when the flea market opens,, the vendor wants to gauge interest in their items and may be willing to negotiate a little more after some time has passed.
7.) Prepare With a List
Take color swatches with you and photos of what you want to buy. Most purchases will not be eligible for returns. You’ll save money if you buy exactly what you need.
As you prepare to shop, use tips from Flea Market Insiders too. They have insider tips on haggling, shipping items, and how to find the treasures. Another site to check is Worth Point. It tells you how much stuff is worth so you don’t overpay. You can try it for free and there is a fee for a subscription. You will save money by not paying more than things are worth.
What to bring to the flea market
Another tip is to bring a wagon, collapsible shopping cart or bags with handles. You will need to cart around your treasures and often it is a long hike back to the car.
Where Are Your Favorite Flea Markets?
Now that you know how to shop at flea markets and save money, where are your favorite flea markets located?
The last one that I went to the Rose Bowl Flea Market in Pasadena, CA. It has not reopened at the time of posting. Although my friend and I had fun poking around and people watching, I thought the majority of the merchandise was over-priced.
Obviously, thousands of people disagreed with me because it was packed with shoppers that day.
Another source to find a directory of all flea markets in the entire US and Canada is Flea Market Zone. It’s really user-friendly.
Do you have a favorite Flea Market in your area? Share your secret sources with us!
Find Estate Sales Near You
I’ve recently discovered EstateSales.net and they list local estate sales and online estate sales usually with a lot of photos. It has become a new addiction!
See some of our favorite flea market/garage sale makeovers:
Turn a teapot and teacups into a centerpiece – beautiful!
A popular designer trick is to use old books to “elevate” your decor.
Turn a glass bowl into a terrarium. Just add dirt, pebbles, and a small plant. My terrarium has been going strong for several months now.
I made these for a Mother’s Day gift a few years ago. Plant herbs inside old teacups and mist them as needed for a lovely Tea Cup Herb Garden
Turn an Old Lamp Into Nautical Decor with rope.
Learn how to Make a Cool Retro Clock from an Old Vinyl Record
Turn an old bottle into a Nautical Theme Bottle Vase
More Frugal Living Tips
Are you on a quest to live better on less? I’m here to help! Here are some more fantastic ways to save money and still live your best life.
- How to Have a Successful Garage Sale
- Upcycling Ideas to Repurpose Old Objects
- Places to Recycle or Sell Old Gadgets
PIN for Later!