I'm slightly addicted to thrifting – to finding a great deal on items, either at thrift stores, tag sales, or sometimes even for free curbside.
Yes, I will brake for a yard sale, and my husband and son are used to me looking for sale signs and our car coming to a sudden stop on the weekend.
My kind of heaven is going to a flea market, because I also collect vintage linens, mason jars, bottles, children's books, home decor, and small furniture. I like to decorate our home with beautiful, eclectic things on a budget and sell others on my Etsy store. And flea markets are full of great deals. Here are some of my favorite tips to make your visits a success.
Always, Always Haggle
Flea market vendors don't expect to get full price on their items, and it's rare that a vendor will not budge if you ask him for a better deal. If you've never asked for a better deal, then a flea market is the place to learn that skill!
My tip: start with asking for about 30 percent less – you might be surprised and get a yes. If the vendor doesn't budge much after your first offer, offer a little bit more and then decide if you like the item enough to accept the next offer he makes you. Always, always ask if that is the best he can do – why pay more for an item if you don't have to?
Get creative when it comes to getting the best deal: if there are a few other items you like from the same vendor, ask her for the best price she'll give you for the whole lot. Vendors want to get rid of their items, so buying in bulk can help to get an amazing steal.
Also, if you just have to have that mirror because you've been looking for one just like it for months – tell the vendor! Sometimes your enthusiasm or your story about how her item is that one missing link in your collection will make her want to give it to you for less.
For the Best Deals, Go Near Closing Time
For the best selection, you'll have to arrive early – some dedicated shoppers even arrive early before opening hours of the flea market.
But the best deals are to be had an hour or so before closing time.
That's why I do the opposite of the early birds: I arrive at the end of the day because I know that the vendors don't want to pack up and lug their wares home again, making them more willing to slash prices.
Find Out If the Flea Market Has Sections for Items You're Most Interested In
When I go to a flea market I'm not interested in new merchandise, and sometimes there is a lot of that. Large flea markets sometimes make a point to separate merchants, and that helps you to concentrate on what you are most interested in.
I recently visited the Stormville Airport Flea Market in Dutchess County, NY, and they have a dedicated section for merchants with antique items, so that's the section I focused on. I found out where it was and parked near it so I could drop off larger items at my car and go back for more, maximizing my time.
Strike Up a Relationship With Your Favorite Merchants
If you are wowed by all of the items by a certain vendor because her items are just your style, or if you find that you keep buying items from the same booth week after week, it might be a great idea to tell them what you are specifically interested in and ask them to look out for them on their buying trips.
I recently gave a “picker” my email address because he offered to be on the lookout for deals on vintage mason jars and linens for me. It's a win/win for both sides.
A successful flea market trip is one that sends you home with items you love that you didn't pay a lot of money for. These are just 5 of my tips to make that happen. Dressing for the weather, keeping in mind that you might be lugging a few items for a while, and bringing a backpack or even a rolling shopping bag are a few other tips. Happy thrifting!
Have you even been to a flea market? Do you have tips to add that helped you get the best deals?
Image via Flickr/JasonParis