Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Top 5 Flea Market Shopping Tips For Florida and Beyond

I've taken my vintage hunt beyond the comfort of air conditioned thrift stores to the Hot-as-Hades heat of Florida flea markets and hole-in-the wall thrifts this summer. Many others are staying inside the avoid the heat stroke. That's fine, that means more goodies for us

If you're brave enough to risk the elements, you'll be rewarded with vintage treasures. Here are some tips for vintage hunting at the flea market!

1. Market Carts Come in Handy 

If you're lucky you'll find so many vintage goodies for cheap that you'll need a flea market cart. You won't be able to juggle all those finds in your arms, trust me.

Don't be a fool like me, line those carts. I lost a couple of items last week (2 Demeter perfumes, bargained and got 'em for free, but still!) because they fell out of a bag and the cart had no liner.

Cash and Change, You'll Need It

Break out the fanny packs, change purses, and wrislets, you want your cash accessible so you can pay quickly and easily, then move on to more vintage finds. Keep plenty of small bills quarters, nickels, and dimes on hand. Isn't it nice to buy things for nickels and dimes again? Good times...

3. Haggle, It's the Name of the Game

I rarely pay the asking price. Always ask for deals and discounts. Don't be shy, they'll just say "no," if it's no-deal and you just move on to the next score or swallow their price. Don't worry, they almost always say "yes!" They want the sale!

4. Pack Sturdy Boxes, Newspaper, Water, Hand Sanitizer, and Handkerchiefs...

Sturdy boxes and newspaper in your cars to keep your finds safe on the ride home. Water to keep yourself hydrated outside in the heat, hand sanitizer and handkerchiefs 'cause you're going to get sweaty and dirty. (You're not hunting right if you don't get dirty.) If you're hitting multiple fleas, you might want to pack snacks or a lunch, too.

5. Wear Something Comfortable for the Hunt

Dress appropriately for the weather since you're outdoors. Dress in layers in the cooler months, dress in thin clothes in the summer. Wear things you won't mind getting dirty and don't forget sunblock, sunglasses, and hats to protect yourself from the brutal sun.

Bring your camera, bring your friends, and have fun! The flea market is full of unique items (Hello Golden Vagina!) to amuse you, like a wunderkammer outdoor museum of awesome. Just make sure to only bring willing victims with you. Other vintage-nuts will hunt with the same rapture you do and make the trip funner!

What are your flea market hunting tips?
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  1. Those are great tips! I was amazed at the Worlds Longest Yardsale how many people were trying to trek over the fields in flip flops! Hand sanitizer is great - not just to clean your hands by also to cool off the back of your neck. I take a mold retardant spray or plastic boxes that can be sealed just in case I find something musty I can't resist - don't want my car trunk smelling like that forever!

  2. <3 love the tips but now im depressed where are the good flea markets when you need them?? apparently in Florida lol

  3. My son's favorite toy airplane is in that .25 pile, and I would totally buy him a second for that price (his sister is always stealing it)! I've never been to a real flea market -- thanks for sharing tips and pics.

  4. I always bring a list of things I'm personally hunting for....I get an idea for something really cool for my house and then I "get lost" in the fascination of all the treasures in front of me. My list keeps me focused. I also pack a tape measure because I am terrible at knowing space limits...things seem really small when they are displayed in big outdoor spaces.

    Are these pics from Ramona? I haven't been there in ages....looks like fun!

  5. Helen: I LOVE your mold retardant spray idea! And speaking of keeping cool, I always forget to bring a spray bottle of water with a bit of mint oil in it to stay refreshed. Flea Markets are hot, sweaty work! (But so fun!)

  6. Miss Lou: Florida is a Flea Market haven! I wonder if there are any good ones in Puerto Rico at all with the lack of 2nd hand shopping culture in the area. Boo! ;P

  7. Anonymous: Get thee to a flea market. You'll love it! (It's a real "25 Cent Land!")

    Carla: I always bring a "thrift list" and tiny tape measure with me to thrifts and flea markets, too. (When I can find it...)

  8. My tip is to never carry all your money in the same pocket or pouch. If you are negotiating, you do not want the seller to see you have a wad of cash. Always keep singles around any larger bills. (At the end of day you'll either have singles left or you'll truly be down to your last dollar.)
    Do not be a fashionista when you shop. Sometimes it helps to show your character, but you don't want to look as if you can afford to pay top dollar.
    Smile and say hello. Be seen as a nice person.

  9. Great tips. I also like to have a blanket in my vehicle so if I get a larger dusty item, it doesn't get my vehicle too dirty. I try to remember my tape measure as well.
    Love your tips. I definitely think hand sanitizer is a MUST. Dressing down is important too.
    Thanks so much.

  10. Dogsmom: All EXCELLENT points! Feel like I need to write a "how to haggle at flea markets" type post next if anyone else wants to share tips!

    Karen: Good idea on the blanket. I like to wear thin (yet long, for when I bend down) sundresses because it's so hot. Keeps me cool and it's comfortable, too.

  11. All helpful tips, Van. When I go with a group of people, we tend to spread out and stay in contact via text messaging. But before we scatter, if one of us is looking for something specific, we're sure to mention it to everyone in the group. It never hurts to have a a few extra sets of eyes scanning through the piles of stuff!

    <3Jackie @ Let's Go Thrifting!

    PS: That golden vagina art is by far the strangest find I have ever seen, EVER. And I would not have hesitated to buy it, lol.

  12. Jackie: that is an excellent hunting strategy that I'd like to try someday. I like the comradery of hunting as a team, too, but you can cover more ground quickly and effectively your way!

    And I would have snatched up the vagina art in an INSTANT too. ;)

  13. I remember reading advice from Rachel Ashwell about shopping flea markets. Some of her ideas I follow: Wear sunscreen, bring water and maybe some fruit/yogurt to munch on, carry handiwipes, wear comfortable shoes, have a hat, and lots of $1s! Such good advice, but she never spoke about granny carts. I love bringing my cart with me. I always find a box that fits into the bottom and I also bring waterproof bags in case it rains. We had dye rub off on a doll some years ago while shopping, so we make sure to put items that might have dye transfer into reusable fabric bags. Some flea markets have the inserts you can buy for your cart, but I prefer using the snap on bag I had for my daughter's stroller. It's easier than carrying a purse. -Teresa R.

  14. Oh, and don't forget a measuring tape if you are buying anything big.

  15. Love your 5 top flea market tips! Some great tips in these comments as well. I'm now looking for a granny cart and then I'm ready to roll!

  16. i love that you used the word "haggle"... i use that word but not everyone gets it. it always, always reminds me of this bit from monty python. and now i'm suppressing a giggle fit :P

  17. TYRaines: Good idea with the snap-on-purse for the flea market cart, and a box at the bottom!

    Another thing: Keep your hand on your cart at all times. (I can be inattentive, sometimes I want to tie it to my wrist with a string.) It could just "Roll Off" with someone else...

  18. Tammy: You'll love them, they make flea market shopping so much easier!

    Anna: I have had flea market dealers seem disappointed when I pay asking price and don't haggle just like that skit. People are scared to do it, but most vendors down here love it!

  19. Amber: Oh, my too. They are gorgeous. I need to do some more photo shoots over there! :)

  20. Where are these Florida flea markets?? The ones by us (in Tampa) just seem to sell new dollar store junk!

  21. Tracy: I'm in Jacksonville, Ramona Flea Market is my go-to for vintage treasures. There are others in town that only have the new dollar store junk, I avoid them.

    I hear flea markets in Gainesville are good for vintage, too. Keep hunting, take day-trips to find ones near you that deliver the goods.

  22. I want that At-At!!!!

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