Weekend Do: Vintage Flea Markets

Take these tips into account when heading out to your local flea market this weekend — soon you’ll find yourself on the ultimate treasure hunt…

I grew up in a family that antiqued. Long weekends always meant canceling any plans we had and piling into the car as a family to venture, sometimes for hours, to a new location to scout out antique and vintage flea markets. I remember running through aisles of dusty glass and patched furniture, eagerly looking for the strangest old hat to make my sister laugh. Flash forward a decade and I’m still running around those markets with vigor in search of the rarest finds, only now with different intentions. The thrill of the hunt takes over as I search to uncover one-of-a-kind pieces that never fail to add personality to my abode.

I’m lucky to usually have my Mom beside me, a seasoned professional in finding the extraordinary in what others may see as old odds and ends. But if it’s your first outing, or even if you’ve been to your fair share of markets, read up on these tips to not only shop, but conquer your next flea market. Soon you’ll find yourself on the ultimate treasure hunt…

Arrive early.

You can — absolutely — roll in at 2pm and still walk away with your new favorite find (after all, everyone’s needs and tastes are different!) but the best, most obviously amazing stuff will be the first to go. Map out your plan the night before so you don’t miss out on anything exceptional. But, keep in mind you will get the best discounts later in the day.

Take a lap.

Sometimes the sheer immensity of all the stuff can be overwhelming, so it can be helpful to take a lap around the venue and get a feel for what is has to offer. Snap photos of things that catch your eye, but move on if it’s not a “need.” You can always come back to it. And who knows, the perfect piece might be just around the corner, so don’t get held up on your first pass.

But…don’t pass up a treasure when you see one.

Don’t wait on that peacock chair going for less than $100 or the gorgeous turquoise ring that happens to make your collection feel (almost) complete. As I mentioned, the most incredible pieces won’t wait around for you. Many markets or vendors will hold a piece for you if you spot it early on, but some only will if you actually purchase the item. Just keep in mind — if you don’t snatch it, someone else will. 

Leave your expectations at home.

Did you come shopping for a vintage Vogue magazine collection or the perfect 80s band tee? No. Will you be leaving with them? Absolutely. Although it can be a good idea to come with something in mind to look for, don’t hold yourself back from discovery. Shopping with a purpose can leave you feeling defeated if you are unsuccessful, even with so many other possibilities surrounding you. Accept that you may uncover hidden gems and be open to the search!

Bring someone along.

Because it’s more fun that way! Vintage flea market shopping is really about the adventure of it all. My mom is my favorite person to bring along – we’re both driven to look for those one-of-a-kind items and like to dream up what we can do with what we find. Whether it’s an old door we make into a headboard or vintage suitcases we stack as a coffee table, we’re always on the hunt for our next project. What’s more, there are usually local food vendors and live music present at bigger events, so take the opportunity to embrace the experience. 

Do your research!

Many of the best sales happen on a weekly, monthly or yearly basis, and oftentimes word of mouth advertising can lead you to your new favorite event. Whether you are looking for flea markets, thrift shops or antique shows, websites like FleaQuest let you search for events and shops in your area, while live auctions, estate sales and yard sales can often be found in your local publications. Happy hunting!

+ Do you have any vintage shopping secrets? Let us know in the comments below!

Shop our Vintage Loves collection here!

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I second never passing up on something! You might not find it again after you leave it… if you love it, get it!

Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

Momma T
4 years ago

Like Mother, like daughter! Thanks for the shoutouts! Wish you were here to go shopping with me more often.

4 years ago

Cool <3

4 years ago

Great suggestion! Thank you! I love flea markets.

4 years ago

Shout out to the moms that raised antiquing daughters. The apple never falls far from the tree.
Your list is great, but I would definitely add Bring Cash! Vendors are always more likely to haggle if cash is in front of them!