There are bargains to be had at the flea market — and you know all the tricks to scoring them. So we dug deep to find ones that may surprise even seasoned shoppers!
Ask for summer deals.
While it’s common to haggle on prices at flea markets, you’ll have more luck getting a price break when you simply ask for it now. “The summer months are usually when dealers start to buy inventory for their busy fall and holiday season”, explains antiques dealer Lidy Baars of French Garden House. As a result, they need cash to purchase new stock as well as to make room in their stall to put it. “For buyers, this can mean dealers are more likely to lower their prices when asked or accept reasonable offers, especially if you’ve seen the same item in their booth before.”
Plan to arrive early.
Sure, you know about snagging lower prices late in the day because vendors would rather sell merchandise for less than lug it back home. But you could save even more by arriving when the market opens. Why? At the start of the day, vendors look for low-priced merchandise being sold by other vendors, then buy them and resell them at higher prices. Says Baars: “Once, while shopping at a flea market, my friend and I saw a pair of antique cement dogs he was interested in get bought early in the morning by another vendor who sold them in his own booth for six times as much!”
Dress not to impress.
With so much walking, bending, and reaching, you’ll want to dress comfortably to avoid aches. And to save cash, you’ll also want to dress down, for example, with jeans and a T-shirt. “When I began my career as an antiques dealer, I noticed right away that vendors quoted higher prices to customers who wore expensive clothes”, notes Baars. “If you’re well-dressed, vendors assume you have plenty of money to spend.” Also smart: Leave your “good” handbag at home since it can send a price-hiking signal to sellers too.
Look for a mess.
“If a table is highly organized and the products look clean, it means the vendor put a lot of work into them and will ask for a higher price”, says flea market whiz Chris Shey, host of the YouTube channel Chop With Chris. “I look for cluttered, messy booths because those prices are lower.” Hunting for a specific item, like dishes? Scour booths that don’t specialize in what you want, he advises. “If a vendor sells mostly toys but has a few dishes mixed in, they’ll be cheaper than ones at a dish-filled booth.” The reason? Sellers who focus on a certain product are more knowledgeable about it, so they will ask for more.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.