With over 35 years of shopping, buying and selling at flea markets all over the country, Paul and Debbie Michael are happy to share a few good tips on how to find the best stuff. All flea markets have a really small community of antique dealers and vendors who travel the country and show up together to attend the circuit of shows that usually occur from Spring all the way through Fall. It is easy to look online to find a flea market near you!
Step 1 – Get there early; beat the crowds. If the event starts on a Friday and it is a larger size show, it is a good idea to arrive a day or two early. Lots of trading among dealers take place as they unload their trucks and trailers. The early bird catches the worm.
Step 2 – If there is a site map available, it is a great idea to get one. Familiarize yourself with the grounds, and ask where the best dealers usually set up. Be specific about what you are hunting for. Whether it be antique buttons, military items, vintage clothing, crafts, etc., keep your eye on the prize. The dealers generally set up in the same spots which ends up being like a community or little neighborhood. If you are really in it for the hunt, and are just looking for whatever catches your eye, find the areas where dealers set up that do not come on a regular basis. Some markets refer to this as the unreserved area. Their tables will be filled with anything and everything. This is the spot where you just might find your hidden gem.
Step 3 – It is always a good idea to have a specific item in mind when you begin your hunt. Do a little research if you are on the hunt for specific items so you will have a good idea of the current market price. Paul says, “the most important ingredient of buying an item, is deciding in your mind what you are willing to pay, and what the true market value is.” Keep in mind that the price the dealer is asking will be at market value or a little above. Half the fun of attending the flea market to find your treasure is not only the hunt but also the negotiation. Dealers appreciate the art of a negotiation! Be prepared, and do NOT Google an item in the presence of a dealer. There are definite rules of etiquette to follow when making a deal, and this is a big insult to a dealer. They tend to be a little cranky anyway, and this could ruin your chances of buying your merchandise at a lower price. Once you have spotted the item of interest, you need to decide in your mind what you are willing to pay for it. Feel free to check it out as much as you like and ask as many questions as you have. You will find that most of the dealers are honest, knowledgeable, and enjoy sharing any and all the information they have.