Flea market season is here and I am sharing really great advice. Here’s my top 10 tips to follow when shopping flea markets.
One of my very favorite things to do during the spring and summer is to shop flea markets. It’s the whole thrill of the hunt, finding that special something that I have had in my mind, and just poking around in the packed booths. It’s my jam. I’ve learned a few things over the years that have now become beneficial to me when I’m shopping flea markets. Some tips are common tried and true tips, while a few are from my school of hard knocks. I’m also listing a few of my favorite flea markets in the Northeast, along with my favorite flea market essentials, at the bottom of this post.
Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
Top 10 Tips To Follow When Shopping Flea Markets
1). Prepare a handy bag with hand sanitizer, wipes and tissues. Everything you touch at flea markets is inevitably dirty, so it’s a good idea to have hand sanitizer at the ready. Hand wipes and clorox wipes are also helpful as the port-a-potties are never spotless (to put it mildly) either. Hands down, wicked important to have this stuff with you when shopping flea markets.
2). Bring water and light snacks. Most every market sells food and beverages, but I’ve found that it’s always good to bring at least one bottle of water as a safety net. And since I’m always trying to stay away from junk food (trying being the operative word), I like to bring a protein bar with me.
3). Wear comfortable shoes and sun blocking hat, cool clothes. Your feet take a beating. Think about it – flea markets are never on truly level turf and, depending how long you’re shopping and walking around, your dogs will start barking pretty quickly. Wear comfortable shoes with a lot of support. Hopefully, your flea market shopping day is a sunny one rather than rainy. For this, make sure you bring a sun blocking hat and wear cool clothing. When you’re not wearing comfortable clothes and shoes, then your thrifting experience won’t be as pleasurable.
4). Bring a measuring tape!! Like, totally! For sure! Numbers don’t lie and if you find something that you “think” is going to fit, measure it to be sure. There is a measuring app that you can download on to your phone, but I’ve found that a tried and true measuring tape is much easier to use, and more precise.
5). Cash! Cash! Cash! Though I have found a few vendors here and there that accept venmo, most prefer good old cash. So, my updated advice here is, bring cash and then be pleasantly surprised if you find something and the vendor accepts venmo.
6). A couple sturdy, long handled bags, and even a rolling cart if you have one. I never shop flea markets without a couple sturdy, long handled bags. Some vendors do have some sort of bag, sometimes, but I prefer to have my own. If you do buy something breakable, ask the vendor for packing paper or newspaper to wrap it in, then put it in your bag. As for the rolling cart, it certainly comes in handy. One of my favorite things to shop for at flea markets is garden decor and accessories. None of which are light. That buggy has been a lifesaver for my shoulders. It’s definitely good to have, especially if you have a list of things you’re hoping to find. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that rolling buggies can be a bit cumbersome, especially when trying to navigate narrow booths. A lot of vendors will let you park your buggy/cart off to the side while you shop.
Now we’re getting into the school of hard knocks tips…
7). Don’t buy just to buy. This will get you in trouble. If you see something you think is cute or cool or whatever, don’t buy it just to buy it and go with the idea that you’ll find a use for it or a space for it later. I say this because nine times out of ten, it’ll get stashed in a corner or the attic for years to come. I tell ya, I’ve got a few things in the attic that I found at flea markets that I loved at the time but had zero use or space for them. Kind of a waste of money. To Sean’s delight, I’m having a tag sale in a couple weeks though most likely won’t recoup my costs. Don’t buy just to buy.
8). If you have something in mind, research the price on ebay and other auction websites to get a ballpark price. There have been plenty of times in my earlier flea market shopping days where I overpaid for things just because I was ignorant of their value. Made me feel like an idiot. I learned pretty quickly to do my research first and stick with that ballpark of price.
9). Stick to your budget! When you see something you want, ask yourself the most you’d spend on it. If the vendor comes in higher than your limit, walk away. Last year, I found a small obelisk for a planter that I loved. My limit was $20. I asked the vendor if he would take $20 and he declined saying that he just bought it for that two booths down and needed to make something on it. I had to walk because it was the principle of the whole thing. Three months later I was at the same flea market and came across the same vendor. That perfect obelisk was there with a $25 tag on it. I asked what was the best he could do. He looked at me and said he’d “let me have it for $24”. No thanks. That’s like leaving a penny for a waitress. The moral of the story, unless you really, really, really, really, really love it, and the vendor doesn’t annoy you beyond, walk away.
10) If you find something that you want and it’s in your price range, buy it right then. If you do choose to walk, then be willing to take the risk that it won’t be there when you come back for it. Boy, did I learn this the hard way, and I still think about that concrete urn that was priced at a song.
My Favorite Flea Market Essentials
I’ve sourced all of my favorite flea market essentials for you and I am providing links to make everything easier for you.
- Sturdy, long-handled bag, option 1
- Sturdy, long-handled bag, option 2
- Sturdy, long-handled bag, option 3
- Best rolling cart
- Measuring tape
- Most comfortable shoes ever with the best support
- Wide brimmed hat
My Favorite Flea Markets In The Northeast
Here are the links to a few of my favorite flea markets here in the northeast.
Stormville Flea Market, Stormville, New York
The Elephant’s Trunk, New Milford, Connecticut
Brimfield Flea Market, Brimfield, Massachusetts
Beacon Flea Market, Beacon, New York
Brooklyn Flea, Brooklyn, New York
Wilmington Antique and Flea Market, Wilmington, Vermont
This post contains affiliate links. I do receive a very small commission on items purchased, at no cost to you. As always, thank you so much for your support.