The first time I went to a flea market, I took my dog with me. I didn’t find any treasures, and my dog actually came home with fleas. But lately, I’ve been growing a new fondness for flea markets. I’m a photographer, and I love using vintage props. Flea markets are a perfect place to find them—and they are not too bad on the budget either.
So what’s the trick to bringing home treasures and not fleas?
Know what you are looking for. Sometimes, flea markets can seem, well, like overwhelming piles of stuff. Having a few things in mind as you browse can help the search seem less daunting. You don’t need to have specifics, but think more in general terms like home décor, vintage advertising, etc. When I head to flea markets, for example, I’m usually looking for photography props and vintage cameras.
Consider repurposing. Flea markets are great for finding items to use creatively. A pair of old shutters can become a note or photo holder on the wall, old windows can become picture frames—the possibilities are literately endless.
Set standards. A lot of flea market finds need a bit of love before they come into your home. How much work are you willing to put into one item? A good scrubbing? A few coats of paint? Knowing your limits can prevent you from purchasing something that just sits around in the garage.
Speak up. If a table or area is particularly messy or hard to dig through, don’t be afraid to ask the vendor if they have what you are looking for (or what area you might find it in). And along the same lines, be ready to negotiate a bargain.
Inspect items carefully. Look over each item carefully. Note things that are difficult to repair, like holes and tears. Inspect things closely enough that you’ll notice that what you thought was just dirt is actually mold.
Flea markets can be great places to find vintage items at bargain prices. Just navigate carefully, set some standards and speak up.