If you have never been to a flea market, it can seem intimidating at first to peruse the hundreds of booths in search of the right item at the right price. However, don’t let apprehension hold you back. Instead, here are a few quick tips to help you browse your first flea market with success.
Where to Find Flea Markets In Your Area
Perhaps the first matter of business when shopping a flea market is knowing where to find one. While there are many large and well-known markets throughout the country, even the smaller ones can be a treasure trove of items. An Internet search indicating “flea markets” or “swap meet” along with “your state” can help you find current events. Your local chamber of commerce should also be of help in this area.
What to Bring
Comfortable shoes and several layers of clothing are a must. You’ll be walking for a long time and will need the support for your feet. Carry a windbreaker you can easily take off, as well as a tee shirt and sweatshirt to help you adjust to changing weather. Don’t forget the sunscreen and a hat to protect you from the sun.
In addition, a pull cart or recyclable shopping bag will save you from trekking back to the car with your purchases. Don’t forget to measure various areas of your house to make sure any furniture you buy will fit. Most of all bring plenty of cash (with lots of smaller bills), as most vendors won’t accept checks or credit cards.
If you see something you like, don’t be afraid to ask the vendor if the price marked is the best he or she can do. They expect negotiation from customers at flea markets. Make sure you don’t show too much excitement when looking at the item, or they will know you are already going to buy it. Instead, keep your face neutral and be prepared to offer an alternative price.
There are two schools of thought when it comes to flea markets. The most popular (and most successful) advice is to arrive early – when the flea market first opens its doors. This will mean getting up in the wee hours of the morning to allow for driving and parking time. Being one of the first customers through the door will give you first shot at the items for sale.
As you become a more experienced shopper, however, you may want to consider arriving just before the market closes. This approach is likely to net you the best deals, as sellers are trying to pack up for the night. Most vendors would rather sell an item than have to travel with it back to their stores. However, by arriving late you will also run the risk that items you desire will already be sold.
Swap meets are a great way to find unique and reasonable items for your home or collection. They offer an exciting shopping experience because you never quite know what you’ll find. Keep these tips in mind and enjoy shopping your first flea market.