As the summer heat begins to die down, flea market season starts revving up again! What draws customers to the more than 5,000 flea markets throughout the United States every year spans everything from looking for a fun day of nontraditional “window” shopping to wanting to find the most unique items to getting the best deals around.
While vendors prepare their booths and displays to sell their favorite finds, there are simple steps shoppers can take to prepare for their best flea market experiences this season. Whether you’ve been hitting up markets with your grandparents since childhood or recently decided to harness your inner Joanna Gaines to find secondhand treasures for your home, there is no reason you can’t shop like a pro and save money like one, too! It all comes down to two main things.
#1 Know Before You Go.
Make a list & prioritize.
Think about what specific items you are on the hunt for and write them down. Have you been wanting to replace the mirrors in your bathroom with something more funky or ornate? Are you looking for a few interesting pieces to stage a bookshelf in your office? Do a quick walk around your home or take inventory of your wardrobe and jewelry box to spark some inspiration of things you may be needing.
Set a budget.
You’d be surprised how quickly money goes when that shopping high takes over! Be smart and plan out your budget. Which items are you truly needing versus simply wanting to add to your collection? Put a dollar amount that you are willing to spend for your “need to find” items, so you already have a mindset of what price you are looking for. Calculate an overall budget for those spontaneous finds.
Research the market.
Once you know what you are looking for and how much you are willing to spend, do your due diligence and learn what you can about the flea market you are planning to attend. You can head to their website or find them on Facebook or Instagram to get an idea of the type of vendors and inventory being sold. While the beauty of these kinds of markets is the often one-of-a-kind finds, you will have an idea of what’s in store.
#2 Embrace the Art of Bartering.
Part of the flea market culture that takes some newbies to get accustomed to is the art of bartering! Whether the prices are marked or you need to inquire with the seller, do not be afraid to ask for a lower price where you see fit. Often times, flea market vendors embrace the bargaining and even mark prices higher, knowing their customers will request less and enjoy getting a “steal!”
Buy more and pay less.
You may find that some prices are non-negotiable; however, if you are purchasing multiple goods from one vendor and/or shopping where small goods like jewelry, fabric or notions are sold you may receive a discount for buying additional things. If at first you don’t succeed at bartering, you have the option to purchase more and try again.
Learn when to walk and when to buy.
While there are certainly times to walk away from a sale if the price isn’t matching your wants, there is also a time to accept the offer as is! If you’ve been on the hunt for years for a specific item and you feel that familiar excitement in your belly when you find it, don’t be quick to walk away due to price. Not everything is worth a bargain and the buyer’s remorse that will follow if you don’t purchase may just be too much!
Of course, if you want to be a real pro, don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes that can handle lots of indoor and outdoor walking depending on the location of your flea market destination of choice! You should also bring your own reusable bags to hold all of your exciting new finds as many vendors will not have plastic bags to provide. Above all, have fun and enjoy talking with the vendors as you explore their unique and curated booths that they put so much hard work and passion into.