I’m a big flea market shopper. When I first moved into my new home, I was at the flea market almost every month looking for one-of-a-kind pieces to give my space personality. There’s something thrilling about searching for that perfect piece of art, vintage serving dish, or furniture item—almost like a treasure hunt! I also find inspiration for my Paper Crown line in the vintage clothing section. But if you’ve never shopped a flea market before, it can be a bit overwhelming at first. So since I consider myself a seasoned pro, I’ve decided to share my top flea market shopping tips…
It’s a bummer to wake up at 6am on a Sunday, but all the good stuff really does go first. Keep in mind that when you shop a flea market, you’re competing against interior designers, antique dealers, vintage shop owners, and other professionals who consider it their job to get there at the crack of dawn. So if you’re hoping to score a truly amazing flea market find, you’re going to want to arrive as close to opening time as possible. On the other hand, there is one benefit to making your purchases toward the end of day: Just like with the farmers market, vendors are more likely to give you a deal near closing so that they don’t have to haul their goods back home with them.
You wouldn’t purchase a non-returnable item of clothing online without knowing your proper size and measurements. The same goes for shopping for furniture at the flea market. When you’re shopping for a specific piece (ie. a coffee table), make sure you pre-measure your space so you know the item will fit. It also helps to bring paint swatches or pictures of the room to coordinate color.
Pack a Snack
This might seem like a tip your mom would tell you, but packing a snack is a real necessity for flea market shopping. Shopping a big market might take several hours, and typical flea market food offerings include hot dogs, greasy nachos, and $5 water bottles. So, I always make sure to bring some healthy snacks (like this homemade trail mix) and a reusable water bottle with me. It allows me to keep my energy up and shop longer without giving into junk food.
Keep in mind that you’re not strolling down Rodeo Drive or attending a fashion show when you shop a flea market. You’re walking through aisles upon aisles of crowded booths in search of a unique item or two. So make sure to dress comfortably. Wear comfy shoes especially, and always layer your clothing if you’re starting early. That way you can shed a couple layers if it heats up in the afternoon.
Don’t Be Afraid to Barter
Most vendors at the flea market are expecting to haggle—especially as the day goes on. So while you should certainly be polite about it, it never hurts to ask if a seller will come down in price a bit. And even if the response is no when you first ask, you may get a different answer if you return near closing time and the piece is still there.
I hope these tips help! And for those wondering, my favorite flea market to shop in Los Angeles is the Rose Bowl Flea Market. It’s the biggest one, and while it tends to be a little pricier (admission alone costs $15 if you get there during the ‘early bird’ hours), I’ve found some amazing treasures there. I also recommend the Melrose Trading Post, Pasadena City College, and Long Beach fleas.
Have you ever been to a flea market? What is your favorite flea market find?
P.S. Enjoyed this blog post? Here’s how to master your local farmer’s market.