Flea markets, yard sales and antique fairs are wonderful places! They make great weekend activities and the perfect environment for modern “hunters and gatherers”. Since I can remember I visited flea markets and love hunting for unique items with history and precious pieces I can add to my collections. Here are my 10 Tips, on how to make the best bargains:
1. Always dress down!
I cannot emphasize this point enough. A flea market, yard sale or antique fair might be the natural habitat of your vintage clothes and the perfect occasion to wear them, but DO NOT! As soon as the seller identifies you as a retrophile and a vintage fan, the asked prices will rise, because vintage stuff is more expensive then plain old stuff!Most of the time I wear some washed out jeans, old boat shoes and some non- branded polo shirts and when I am especially hunting for watches, I do not wear a wristwatch myself.
2. Greet the seller when you come to the table or stand and be respectful.
The sellers don not have to sell you their pieces and you do not have to buy them, so a friendly contact is one of the essentials to get a good deal.
You might get a bigger discount if you are nice and it is the first chance to recon the sellers character.
3. Always haggle.
Most of the time sellers expect haggling, so they adjust the prices and in some cultures bargaining is even a mandatory part of the sale.
Always offer less then you want to pay, but enough, not to insult the seller and don´t forget to stay friendly!
4. Have the money in hand.
When making an offer and showing the seller the money it is harder for him to resist and he is more likely to accept the offer. I always split up my money to different pockets, so I can pull out the right amounts of cash without exposing too much money.
5. Buy in bulk.
If it is possible to buy more items at the same table, ask for a bulk price.
Most of the times that price will be lower than what the seller would have asked for the single items.
As a matter of fact, I have already bought some pieces I was not interested in, to snug in the item I really wanted for a good price.
6. Be willing to walk away.
Sometimes this is a very hard advice to follow, but don´t get too attached to an item you see.
If the price is not right and the seller is not willing to haggle, just walk away. Sooner or later you will find something better, fitting all of your criteria and in the worst case, you can always come back later in the day if the item hasn’t sold.
7. Pick the right times.
The best times to make a bargain are very early, when the tables are set up and very late just before the sellers pack their things.
Early: You have the largest selection, because the other “hunters” have not yet picked the best pieces. (Best Selection)
Late: The sellers are tired, and they would rather sell something for less than pack it. (Best Price)
8. Have your tools at hand.
When I visit markets, I always carry:
A magnifying lens, to check hallmarks, writings and other details, the naked eye won´t see.
My mobile phone to browse on Ebay and other sites to check for medium prices and other details on items I am interested in.
Tape measure for sizing clothes, measuring furniture and a lot of other things.
(When shopping for clothes, always have your measurements in mind.)
And wet wipes, to clean the hands after a closer inspection of yukky pieces.
If you are planning to buy furniture, keep some tools to dismantle them in your car.
9. Trust your instincts!
If something seems too good to be true, it probably is!
When the prize is much too low and you get the feeling the seller tells you a phony story, to sell a piece, just don´t take it!
10. Have fun and treasure your purchases!
I think this is one of the most important tips on this list!
It does not matter if you find the same piece later somewhere cheaper or you have missed some details, which are not to your liking, you have hunted down this individual trophy.
You had a hopefully pleasant experience and some well spent hours and that cannot be priced.
What do you think is the most useful tip in this list, do you have other tips for fellow hunters and gatherers, or do you like to share your greatest flea market findings?
Just leave it in the comments!