When on the hunt for something special for your home, flea markets are a great option. But it is best to be prepared. Know what you are getting into, what you want and enjoy your day looking for treasure. Here are some hints and tips for a satisfying trip to a flea market or happy season of tag sale stops.
One: Always plan ahead. First off, wear comfortable shoes and know that come late afternoon many vendors might lower prices,. However waiting too long might mean that the ‘perfect’ item is no longer available. Think about the pieces you are looking for, the rooms you want to decorate and the feel you want to create in the space. Bring measurements of the rooms, the spaces you want to fill and measurements for and fixtures you might want to replace. Take photos of the rooms or spaces that you want to concentrate on; this will help visualize the items and colors in combination with the space. Bring along a notebook with all the information and photos as well as a pen or two so that you can record details on anything you want to think about and contact information for dealers that impress you. You also might run across items that you think you might be able to recreate on your own and want to jot down
Two: Do not be afraid to ask questions. When an item catches your eye, take a good look at it and judge its condition. Sit on it, pick it up, turn it over, open and close it, what ever is necessary and appropriate to judge its condition and usefulness for your purpose. Check the item for dry rot, termites, flaking paint and any parts or pieces that are either missing or do not function. Keep any repair or replacement costs in mind when you weigh your interest in any item. Asking about materials, source, condition, maintaince or more of the same item are common questions and the answers should be easy for a reliable seller to answer. Any reputable dealer will expect some questions, and will be happy to answer. If the seller does not have the information or reasonable answers then it is time to more on. Flea markets, antique shops and tag sales are no place to be shy, so if you can not see a price tag or have any question about a piece you need to ask. Even if you this the question is odd or sounds silly, it is better to ask than to be disappointed with a purchase after bringing it home. This includes trying to negotiate on price. Many sellers will offer discounts late in the day or if you are purchasing several items from the same source. However, if the seller has signage posted stating that prices are firm, respect that and do not push for price deals.
Three: Do not be limited by an item’s initial use. Feel free to use a toy chest that is just the right size to sit nicely at the foot of your bed for linens or towel. Keep your eyes and mind open and consider the shape and size of what you need rather than the initial purpose of any item. Piano benches and flat-topped trucks can make splendid coffee tables. Buffets can make great vanities, medicine cabinets can make great shelving, ice buckets and other containers can make charming planters. Your imagination and ingenuity is the limit. Old fabrics, linens, steels, bedspreads and other materials can be used to make curtains, pillows, wall hangings, or other accents for your home. The possibilities really are as endless and varied as the array of items that you might find.
Four: Consider money and the prices you might pay. Do not forget to bring plenty of cash for sellers that do not accept checks or credit cards. More importantly have a plan and budget in mind. Spending one dollar on one little thing that you had not planned on does not seem like a big deal, but multiply that by a few items and you might not be happy with the look of your bank account. If you luck out and get an incredible deal on something you planned on and are left with more money that you had expected then feel free to pick up and accent piece or two that you really like but do not desperately need. However, do not fall into the trap of spending everything you had budgeted to spend on any single trip. The extra money might come in very handy when another trip might not go as planned or when one of life’s little surprises comes up and brings havoc to your life and wallet.
Five: Take your time and enjoy yourself. Do not spend your flea market visit stressing out about finding that one perfect item. While finding the perfect piece of furniture that will complete the look of a room might be your mission, your purpose for being there in the first place, you need to let go and enjoy. Have your information and ideas ready, but do not forget to have fun on the hunt. Searching and browsing can be great fun if you let it. You will be happiest with the pieces that “click” with or “speak to” you. However, if you are tense and too closed off to other options you might miss the ideal item for you. Look for things that speak to your heart, as well as your wallet. Items that fit your style, wallet and lifestyle will be the ones that you will really love and enjoy for years to come. Look around and enjoy the search for items that your family can really use and admire. If you are relaxed and enjoying the search, you are much more likely to be open to unique ideas and will know the perfect item, or items, for you when you see it.