Tips and Tricks for Successful Flea Market ShoppingMarch 7th, 2009 in blog
Flea Market Shopping – The Rules of Engagement
1. Early Bird Special:
You already know how the saying goes, “The early bird gets the worm”! Many flea markets across the country offer an early entrance option for all of you leave it to eager- beaver junkers. This alternative is not for bargain boppers, but for those of you in search of the best selection.You will have to cough up some extra green, but the variety of junk is hm-hm-hm good. In a nut shell; early entrance fee (varies), coffee and doughnuts (five bucks), early bird experience, priceless.
2. Search First, Rescue Later:
We refer to this strategy as the “straight jacket“ defense to over paying. Take a loop-de- loo around the entire flea market before making any purchases. Although, there are some downsides (you may miss a snag or two) to this plan of attack, but more times than not you’ll be happy you employed it. Picture this: You are in search of a fan and you buy the first one that suits your fancy for a mere fifty bucks. Ten minutes later you come across another such fan, but oops, it’s only $25. This will leave you thinking, my bad. Patience is truly a virtue and you can take that bit of advice to the bank.
3. Where is the Real Junk?
After you’ve scoped out the market and retrieved your initial must haves get your boots a walkin’ to the back forty. What does this mean? Head out to the very back of the field and work your way back in. Vendors who have staked claim in the field are most likely to have what we consider to be the coolest of cool. You will find stuff in the rough with more potential than you can shake a stick at. What’s even cooler are the price tags or the lack there of, allowing you to inquire. What will you take for this thing with its ears cut short and its tail cut long?
4. Junkers on the Down Low:
While out in the back forty, leave know stone unturned. Vendors will display their favorite junk confectionery, but the sweetest of sweet may be tucked away for later. Listen to that sweet tooth and ask if their might be any hidden treats perhaps slipped under the table, or in the back of their truck or tailer. If you dare to ask, you may be in for a pleasant surprise. Scrounging in the underworld is what true junking is all about, so, go for it! This is something that will not require a trip to the dentist, quite possibly a welder, but most definitely not a dentist... thank goodness for small favors!
5. Let’s Talk Turkey, The Art of Negotiation:
Negotiating is indubitably an art form. At the end of the day you want everyone to be happy. Vendors work very hard searching high and low in order to bring out the best in show for you. Rule number one is not to offend the vendor. Rule number two is not to offend yourself, so pre-determine what you can afford to pay for something you like. Rule number three, combine rules one and two and you are set to go. If you can’t bear the expense, politely ask the vendor if he or she can do better. If the answer is no, be prepared to walk away and say whatever you were after is out of your price range. Don’t say I’ll be back because that will leave the vendor laughing.
6. Cash and Carry:
Cash, don’t leave home without it. Although some vendors are now accepting plastic, cash is still king at the flea markets. Before heading out the door make sure you have what you need in a variety of denominations. Twenties, tens, fives, and ones are best. Vendors always appreciate not having to break your honey bees. Oh, and by the way, make sure to keep it all in a safe and handy location. We’ve found that stuffing your back pockets is not all it’s cracked up to be.
7. Never Believe the Weatherman:
Be prepared for sunshine on your shoulders, the rainy day blues, and everything in between. A full day at the flea market can produce a potpourri of weather conditions. You’ll want to pack a sensible bag of necessities. Items like bottled water, sunscreen, lip balm, shades, and a hat are a must. You may also want to consider layering up your wardrobe. Don’t worry about being stylish, this is not an audition for America’s next top model. As the brisk morning air gives way to the smoldering afternoon sun you’ll be able to shed layers on the fly without missing a beat or a hot deal. In case of the dreaded inclement weather situation, make sure to have that rain poncho and gollashes in the car ready and waiting. Don’t let a little torrential down pour send you packing like everyone else. Keep in mind if the storm sends folks running for cover you will be left with the goodies all to yourself. We do not advocate, however, junking in a lightning storm. Even we have to draw the line somewhere!
8. Don’t Find Yourself Lost in Translation.
Some flea markets are expansive, some are small, and some are just right. In any case you’ll want to know where you are, where you’re going, and most importantly where you need to back to. If you’re planning a major haul kind of shopping experience you will probably find it necessary to leave some purchases with vendors for pick-up later in the day. If so, it is imperative to make a map of your junking journey. Some fleas have maps available, but if not, make sure to have a small notebook in your arsenal to make your own. You will want to jot down the vendor location (aisle, booth #, etc.), vendors name and contact information, and a list of the items left behind. The last thing you want to do is get home and realize that you forgot a favorite find.
9. Don’t Be a Hungry Junker.
Do you ever go to the grocery store when you are hungry? Mmm, mm, bad idea. Most of us have learned this valuable lesson through personal experience. Why did I spend $50 on twelve bags of munchies? If you don’t have a plan of attack you might just have a similar escapade at the flea market. This time instead of buying silly food, you’ll be buying silly junk. Prepare a list in this order, things you need, things you want, and maybe a few things you’ve been dreaming of for quite some time. If you do this you’ll feel more in control, you will be less likely to over-spend, and you won’t end up with a lot of impulse buys that will assuredly take up residence at your next garage sale.
10. Don’t Let Your Eyes be Bigger Than Your Volkswagon Bug
Remember the junk you buy throughout the course of the day needs a ride home. Easier said than done!
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