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Tips for Visiting the Flea Market: A Complete Guide

Are you a lover of all things vintage or do you like to find some unique piece of home decor that no one else has?  While you can try thrift stores, garage sales or FB marketplace your local flea market just might be the adventure you need to take on with the whole family! I’ve been shopping and selling at flea markets for over 12 years, and there is definitely a right and wrong way to do it!  It’s a great way to spend a Saturday or Sunday! I wanted to share with you some Tips for Visiting the Flea Market: A Complete Guide. Interested in being a vendor at a market or show? Check out this post!

Booth space at the flea market


Do you need a wood carved mermaid? You can  most likely find one  or something else just as interesting at the flea market! That’s the beauty of visiting. You can find some really unique items for almost any style. Vendors so some markets travel from out of state. If you’re lucky enough you live somewhere where there is an open year-round market. Something to keep in mind however before even starting to shop, and after putting on those comfortable shoes, is what you need to bring with you and keep in mind for a successful and fun day.
Mermaid statues at the Flea Market

Bring weather-ready necessities to bring with you to the Flea Market

First of all, always check the weather especially for outdoor markets. Hopefully it’s a sunny day and all you need is sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses and extra water, but the weather does and can turn quickly. I was selling at one Flea Market where the winds suddenly turned, we had about 10 inches of rain in an hour, a tornado touched down near by and some of the outdoor vendors entire tents blew away. So check the weather and bring things for quickly changing weather like an umbrella, rubber boots, a jacket or a change of shoes.

Ready for a day at the flea market the guide you need!

You can bargain at Flea Markets with sellers, but not always, and it’s not required for them to haggle back

One thing to remember while you’re on the hunt is it’s ways great to snag a good bargain. However, looking at it from the vendors point of view, they’ve carefully hunted for their goods, cleaned them, hauled them, and are spending 1-2 days so someone can hopefully buy them, It’s ok to ask, but if they say no don’t be insulted. Some vendors love to haggle, but for many the price is the price and real bargain hunters aren’t welcome to low ball. So if they say no, let it go. For instance, this table was listed at $39 and  I asked the vendor if she would go to $33. It was a firm no, and that’s ok. One trick though to get a lower price at the flea market is if you re buying multiple items at one vendors booth. They may be willing to give you kind of a bulk discount.  OR, if you really want to grab a bargain, wait until the last few hours of the market. Especially if it’s something big. Many vendors do not want to take large items home and are more willing to haggle so they don’t have to load it up.
Table at the flea market

While a Flea Market can be like a treasure hunt, there can also amazing art, new goods, a lot of oddities and sometimes real junk.

I mean I use the term junk loosely because beauty is in the eye of the beholder. There is something for everyone from barn picked goods to local merchants who open mini-stores at the market.  There is also at times literally stuff that is just garbage you have to pick through. For me these little statues below are going home with someone. We passed on the nose picking dwarfs though; I already have enough of those at home.
Bring a cart or wagon for large purchases

Bring something to carry your goods around  in such as a cart or wagon

You might not plan on buying something big, but the minute you see it and have to carry it, you’re going to regret not having something to pull it in.  While some vendors might hold your item until the end of the day, some do not want that responsibility. A fold up cart is a great way to be able to buy larger items and not break your back. Even in indoors markets a fold up luggage cart is a great option. Also, know that the expectation is if you bought it you are bringing it home with you that day, even if it’s a huge item like a cabinet. If you’re lucky, they are a local vendor and you can possibly arrange delivery or ship for a cost. Chances are you will need to load it up that day, so bring your truck and some muscle or be prepared to rent some.
Nose picking concrete statues at the flea market

Is it okay to take pictures of booth at the Flea Market?

The right answer is to always ask first.  Vintage vendors are okay with it, but many artists,  or people who create original designs or crafts may not be. There was nothing worse than someone who would  walk by take a picture of something I made and then would say “I’m going to have….make this for me”.  So always ask if you can take a picture of their merchandise before you do so.
VIntage and new mixed together at the flea market

Dose everyone take a credit card?

While anyone who sells and is a legitimate business normally does, many vendors who ae smaller or hobby sellers may only take cash, so make sure to bring extra cash with you. And, depending on your state, vendors may also be collecting sales tax like we are required to in Illinois. If you are bringing cashe, please don’t stop at the ATm on the way to the market and bring crisp $20s. Even though I  tried to being enough change, sometimes I barely had enough when confronted with $20 after $20 dollar bill. I loved this booth with the chandeliers. They started at $200 and they didn’t take credit cards and I didn’t have enough cash, so unfortunately I went home without one.

Chandeliers at the Flea Market

Buyer beware with certain items like lighting, upholstered goods and more

Realistically speaking, you don’t know where someone acquired something at. With items such as lighting, planning on having it rewired after purchase is always a good idea, as well as having soft goods such as rugs or upholstered furniture either cleaned or recovered as well. And I always give my items a “sniff test” before buying. If I smell cat or dog pee, mustiness, mold or any off smells it’s a no go for me.
Furniture at the Flea Market

Is it ok to bring your pet or kids in a stroller to a flea market?

I’m going to be 100% honest. A single stroller is fine or a wagon. Do not bring a double wide stroller and if your kids aren’t good with crowds or the heat it’s not a good place for them. I have seen more miserable parents than happy ones at the market. If you go, realize you might not be able to make it all day or do the entire market. Bathroom lines are many times out the door and a long wait and the heat makes everyone crabby. As for pets, unless they are in a closed carrier I would say no. I’ve seen too many near misses of dogs biting someone or people tripping over them.
Wood carved stamps the the flea market

Is there food at the Flea Market?

It really depends on the market.  Some have full size turkey legs and others barely have bags of ships. But even is there are lots of food vendors, if it’s crowded or hot, many time the wait for just a drink can be 15-20 minutes. It a good plan to bring your own water and snacks just in case. The flea market is not a great experience if you are hangry.

Vintage finds and furniture at the flea market

If hope you found a few nuggets in this Tips for Visiting he Flea Market: A Complete Guide. If you plan ahead, the flea market can be a great and fun experience for all if you are prepared and ready for a treasure hunt!
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