Hear that thunder in the distance? It is the sound flea market fans rushing toward all the outdoor (and indoor, too) markets opening after more than a year of closures. Those holding the flea markets are just as excited as the visitors, with tables filled with wares that have been in storage instead of stalls.

We are excited as you are about a new season of bargains, antique and vintage household items, furniture, art and ceramics. But wait! We need to curb our enthusiasm and be smart shoppers. Here are our Top 10 tips to maximize the flea market experience.

1.  Look at all of the items on out of the way shelves and in the corners.  You could find an overlooked treasure.

2.  Be sure that you have all of your measurements before you go to buy any furniture, picture or other items. Measure your doorways and stairs to make sure any furniture that you buy will fit through the doorways and up or down stairs. If you forget to take a ruler don’t forget a dollar bill is 6” long.

3.  If buying clothes, wear tight outfits so you can easily put potential buys on.

4.  Be sure to check anything you buy carefully for damage, missing parts or tears.

5.  Bring batteries if you are looking for toys so you can make sure they work.

6.  Don’t buy a rug or coat or any thick fabric that has a smell as you may have a lot of difficulty getting it out.

7.  Look for furniture that will have a whole new look if you paint it.  It may not be a valuable antique, but it can become a sturdy or colorful piece of furniture for your room.

8.  Mix and match is in for furniture, clothes, rugs, pillows and walls.

9.  Look at the marks.  You may find a sought after maker. For jewelry check for gold or sterling marks as well.

10. Look in Kovels’ Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide or search online at Kovels.com to help price and identify your finds.


ralph and terry kovel at a flea market looking at a chair

Terry and Ralph Kovel at a flea market, examining an antique chair


ralph and terry kovel at a flea market

Ralph and Terry with a special find, a pair of pedestal stands



2 responses to “Top 10 Tips For Smart Flea Market Shopping”

  1. Pomona says:

    And definitely wear clothes that you don’t mind getting at least a bit dirty! You don’t want to miss the find of a lifetime because you can’t do a proper search of a promising booth for fear of getting your outfit grubby. (I once saw a photo illustration of an article about flea markets that featured a model dressed all in white! Ah, no. Just no!)

    Also, if you’re going to an outdoor flea market in the country and it’s rained in that area in the past few days, at least take some knee-high rain boots along. You don’t want to find yourself unable to access the most tempting vendors’ booths because one glance at the ground tells you that you can’t walk there or your nice shoes will be engulfed in mud past the ankles!

  2. msalicia11 says:

    So far looking thru this year’s Kovels I recognized a style of blown glass that I have and it is potentially worth 6-8k based on the example listed. Thank you for all the pictures. Without them I would not have made the connection

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