Flea markets are often disorganized, short on space yet crammed with objects, and filled with others trying to do exactly what you are: find the perfect item at the lowest price! Realistically, though, these qualities are exactly what many of us love about them. Never knowing which cluttered corner will contain the perfect addition to your collection makes the trip more like a treasure hunt than a chore. That said, experts across the web have chimed in with their advice as to how to make the most of your trip to a flea market – and we’ve compiled a few tips from the best of the best, as well as our own experience, which are certain to help you score exactly the collectible you’ve been searching for:
1. Go early. Get to a flea market the hour it opens and you’ll see collectors, store owners and creative types already loaded up with armfuls of goods. That’s because they know the best stuff goes fast! While the day is hardly shot if you can’t make it until the afternoon, you can increase your chances of finding exactly what you’re looking for – or what you didn’t know you were looking for – if you beat the crowds. On the downside, haggling may be more difficult when vendors know that they have the whole day ahead of them… but it could be worth it for that one perfect piece.
2. Find your rhythm. This one takes time and a bit of experience, but it can help you figure out your perfect M.O. faster if you consciously try out different methods of exploring a flea market. Some people like to do the rounds of the market several times with a new object solely in mind for each circuit – furniture the first, jewelry the second, knickknacks the third, etc. – while others like to go stand-by-stand with a list in hand to remind them what they may be looking for within that vendor’s particular type of goods. Whichever method gives you the best results, stick with it!
3. Bring a digital camera, and use it. Sometimes we anticipate our memory will be better than it is. Unfortunately, though, in the heat of the moment we often forget or overlook crucial details that may determine whether or not we choose one item over another. If you’re truly in love with an object but want to keep shopping before you commit (either for a better deal on a similar model, or to let your emotions settle for a minute), take a picture and use it to save yourself the legwork when comparing other options. You may find that that crack you failed to notice, or that patch of peeling paint that bothers you now more than before, will help save you from a disappointing impulse buy.
We know many of our collectors are hardly new to the art of perusing flea markets themselves, so we invite anyone with creative advice of their own to chime in in the comments section below! If you’ve got a growing collection and are concerned with ensuring its longevity and value, contact us for a collectible or classic car insurance quote.