What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the term “flea market”? For those who actually patronize flea markets, it’s all about getting antiques, second hand furniture or other finds at low, low prices. Those who haven’t been to a flea market may not necessarily know what to expect, which is where our information proves to be handy.
First, where did the term flea market originate? According to those who run actual flea markets, the term was first used in the 1880s when a bargain hunter dubbed a market selling rags and old furniture as ‘le marche aux puces’ or the market of fleas. It was a perception back then that because of the age of the items being sold, some of them could easily have fleas. The term was officially listed down on the Oxford English Dictionary’s 1922 edition. There are other variations to the story but over the years, the term flea market has stuck.
According to Dictionary.com, a flea market is a market, typically outdoors, which consist of a number of individual stalls selling old or used articles, curios, antiques, cut-rate merchandise, etc. The renters of flea markets are called vendors and can be held on an annual, bi-annul, monthly, weekend or even daily basis.
Why Shop at Flea Markets
Now that you already have an idea about the origin of flea markets, what are the advantages of seeking them out? As compared to the brand new merchandise that you will find in malls, supermarkets and typical business establishments, flea markets usually have unique items for sale. Flea market experts sell items for lower prices than vintage stores at typical markets. If you’re persistent enough, you can find items that can complete the set of someone collecting Asian art or art pieces.
The good news is that instead of catering to collectors of vintage items, a younger clientele has become attracted to flea market shopping as well. As such, you can easily find funky furniture pieces, vintage-looking appliances, and fashion finds from the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Whether it’s your first time or if you are already an expert at flea market shopping, you are bound to have a good time looking for unique items at bargain prices.
How to Find a Good Flea Market in Your Area & Other Tips to Remember
Now, when going flea market shopping, how do you know which ones are open in your area? And what are the things to remember when going on a flea market shopping spree? Take a look at the following tips:
Know what to look for in the first place.
Your goal when shopping at a flea market is to look for great finds at affordable prices. If you’d like to be an expert shopper, you should know which items to look for in the first place so that you can get the best value for your money. For instance, sunglasses are sold as legal knock-offs or you can buy inexpensive, generic ones. Depending on where you’re located, there are some areas which sell legal knock-offs more than inexpensive generic sunglasses; while other locations sell a combination of the two.
Other great finds at flea markets include customized t-shirts, inexpensive toys, athletic footwear, baseball caps, covers or cases for personal electronic items, fresh produce, prints, posters, handmade jewelry, DVD movies, etc.
Learn how to locate the best closeout, wholesale and flea market sources in your area.
There are plenty of websites which allows you to locate the nearest flea market, wholesale or closeout markets in your area. Here are a few examples:
Visit Yelp.com and type flea market on the “Find” box, as well as your exact location on the “Near” box. This will give you pretty accurate results on which flea markets can be best visited within the vicinity. Aside from the address and contact information, Yelp.com also publishes the specialty of the business establishment, online reviews, price range of items and other pertinent information about the flea market.
As indicated on their website, FleaMarket.com publishes detailed profiles of flea markets across the country. You can find one close to home, or plan a bargain hunting road trip. The site also provides the inside scoop on vendors, merchandise, when to shop and what not to miss.
Of course, you can always use the classic way of looking for anything online through Google.com. You can look for wholesale sources, closeout sources and flea markets by searching for something like this: wholesale flea market + the name of your city; closeout merchandise + the name of your city; closeout merchandise + the product you are looking for; wholesale + the type of product you are looking for.
Know which items are usually counterfeited.
Flea markets are a haven for counterfeit items so instead of wasting your money on them, you should have bought something else entirely. To prevent being tricked into buying counterfeited items, here are a few questions to ask yourself before buying:
- Is the price too good to be true?
- What’s the quality of the item?
- When I check on the details of the workmanship, does it look poorly-made?
- Does the item still include all parts that should come with the product?
The top ten most counterfeited items are footwear, consumer electronics, handbags, wallets, apparel, computers, hardware, watches, media, pharmaceuticals, jewelry and electronic games. When you see these items sold at bargain prices in flea markets, make sure that you are getting the real thing. Otherwise, you are better off spending your money for other unique finds.
Splurge on unique pieces.
If you must spend your hard-earned money, see to it that the item is a unique piece. For this, it’s all a matter of taste and personality. If you stumble upon a vintage jewelry piece that you really love, then you definitely should splurge on it. If a painting or a crazy-shaped furniture catches your eye, that is what you should buy. There are no right or wrong choices here – it’s all a matter of looking for items which are a good fit for you and your home.
Make a list and be prepared when going flea market shopping.
If it’s your first time to visit a flea market, you will get distracted by the variety of items that you will see. To make sure that you will not overspend because your goal is to save money in the first place, make a list of the things that you should be looking for. If you are redecorating your living room, write down the specific items that you need like lamp, side table or any other item that you will find useful in your home improvement project. If you stumble upon a relatively new sofa and you’re not sure if it will fit with your decorating scheme, picture it in another color. Would the shape of the furniture still look great? If yes, then you can proceed to the next step which is haggling or bargaining for a lower price.
When buying items that need to be reupholstered, consider the costs involved.
You saw this gorgeously shaped divan at a flea market but you know that it has to be reupholstered. After learning about the asking price, do add the $600 to $800 that you will spend on the labor of the upholstery, plus the cost of the fabric that you will use on it. There’s also the delivery charges of the divan from the upholsterer to the store then back to your house after it’s done. What is the total cost? If it involves too much work and a lot of extra cash, you should definitely think twice about buying it unless you really love how it would look inside your home.
Do not hoard items from flea markets.
Sure, you will find plenty of great vintage finds at flea markets for $30 or less. But the question is, do you really need it, do you want it or do you still have space in it for your house? If the item costs $100, will you still buy it? The answer is most probably “no”. If you are only buying an item because it’s cheap, then you are not saving money at all. Instead, you might just be adding more junk into your place – which would not do at all.
Flea market finds are great items to put your money in because they’re cheap and they are fun to collect. However, if you are expecting to find china that’s worth hundreds of dollars because they’re very old, you might be out of luck. The whole point of looking for a good flea market in your area is to have the opportunity and place to shop for unique-looking items, and probably very old ones, without having to spend too much. Have fun shopping at a flea market near you!