Oh the excitement of a Sunday morning at the flea market!!
The air is buzzing, vendors unloading their treasures, people rushing about hoping to find something amazing -for a good deal of course!
I live for this- maybe it’s the thrill of the hunt, the excitement of never knowing what you might find, the fun of the banter in the wheel and deal game. Maybe it’s all of it!
If your new to the flea market arena, well, it can be a bit intimidating.
First off- where do you begin? It seems so chaotic!!
Second- what the heck am I looking for and how do I find it?
Third- once I find “It” how do I know what it’s worth and I’m not getting ripped off? Many questions!! Take a deep breath… this should be fun and with a few pointers and some practice you’ll be a pro in no time!! Honest.
Most flea markets are set up in a somewhat organized fashion- believe it or not. Usually in rows. It may take a few trips to a particular flea market to find this pattern but believe me - it’s there. Personally, I beeline to the furthest corner flying by and scanning the booths along the way only stopping if I spot the ‘OMG must have it item’ I’ve been searching for otherwise… onward!! Once there I can take a more relaxed pace. Why do I do this you might wonder? Well, because if I’m having a really great day and I’m loaded up with items- I’m working my way back towards the car instead of away from it. That’s my logic and I’m sticking to it!
Everyones taste varies and at the flea market there is usually something for everyone. Just remember ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ So unless your a collector of a specific type of thing such as railroad items or Fenton glass etc-Enjoy the thrill of the hunt!! You’ll know what your looking for when you see it. Just remember if you really love something- buy it!! If you walk away to ‘think about it’ it might be gone when you get back.
Knowing what it’s worth is a bit harder. The antique market fluctuates - what was of value ten years ago could have depreciated today. Why? Supply and demand my friend. Unless you do your homework and research antiques or frequent antique shops and flea markets this can be tricky. These vendors usually (but not always) know their stuff but just because something is old does not make it worth a million. One side note-If your into things from the 1800’s and you see a patent date on the item- expect it to cost a bit more. This is legitimate. They aren’t trying to rip you off - it means it really really old!! Grab it if you like or love it. Some will play the “it’s going for $XXX on eBay” game. That’s nice. And those vendors just lost my sale even if I desperately want it - that is a sure sign they think they have something worth a lot more than it is and will not move far from there asking price. My suggestion is to walk away.
You’ll find some vendors are helpful and willing to educate and talk about their items which is great when starting out- save those little nuggets of wisdom… these guys/ladies have usually been around awhile. If you haven’t had time to research or have no idea where to begin… pull out your iPhone - everyone has one! God Bless Google!!! I do attempt to be discreet since it’s rude to do right in the vendors face. On my site you may have noticed the picture of a bust of L’Ete- Summer. I spotted her and fell in love -she was hauntingly beautiful but the asking price was $75.00!! So I walked away…pulled out my phone and looked her up. She was from a french sculptor in the late 1800’s and was a display at the Worlds Fair. She goes for $475!!!! You bet your sweet tootie I whipped myself around and scooped her up!! lol Oh and then there is the haggling!!! Always maintain a poker face- Do not under any circumstances give yourself away! If you dare to show excitement or emotion - you know that “OMG I love this!!” you might as well just had over a blank check- they got ya and they know it! Play hard to get- at least a little. Use lines like- “What were you asking for this?” “What’s your best price?” These are my two key phrases I always use and they work.
Example- You: “What were you asking for this?” Vendor: “$25” You: “Is that your best price?” or “Will you take $$$ ?”( more on throwing out a $$ in a bit) Even if I know what something is worth - I play dumb at least until the deal is done or if they’re overpriced I’ll let them know I’m aware of what the item goes for and sometimes that helps. This trick comes with time. Haggling is part of the game - they expect it- if you don’t haggle it’s no fun.
Most of the time the price is a little more to give them haggle room - so haggle haggle haggle!!! With that being said- do not insult them. Remember they are trying to make a living and for some this is their only income. So please be nice. How would you insult them? By low balling them on the price during the haggle. If they say $20 - Do Not counter with $10!! That is an insult and the price will probably not drop but the pleasant attitude will. A reasonable counter would be $15- don’t always expect to get it -but sometimes you will. I usually go approximately $5.00 below asking price to be fair.
So in a nut shell- Take a deep breath -Buy what you love- Maintain a poker face- Haggle fairly -
Most of all…Enjoy the day!!