5 Tips for Flea Market Rookies

Three times a year, the itty bitty, sleepy New England town of Brimfield, Massachusetts becomes an it place to be. For one week in May, July and September, vendors from all over the world (and a breadth of backgrounds!) pour into massive green fields, set up tents and fill them with antiques and one-of-a-kind wares. And lord do the people come. They spend hours upon hours baking in the hot sun  between browsing and haggling down prices from tent to tent. Then, they saunter across the very-much-open-to-traffic road with their filled-to-the-brim granny carts,  chair legs jutting out and chandelier crystals dangling. So if you live in Brimfield, or in a bordering town as I did growing up, or will be passing through during a flea market week, stay away or you WILL be late for work, school, lunch, or whatever it is you are headed to do! But of course, I can’t blame them. Most are insanely talented designers, artists and DIYers looking to find a few special pieces of history to bring back to life in one way or another. And that kind of rocks.


Photo Credit: Brimfield Exchange (www.brimfieldexchange.com)

But next week, instead of heeding my own advice, for the first time in my life, I will be headed toward the madness. Dragging my new friend and co-worker Nick along for the DIY, “trash to treasure” adventure.


Guys, meet Nick. A photography/product member of our team!

We’re not looking for anything in particular. Just something that would make a fun DIY project. We’ll haul it back to the office and use products and fabrics from Online Fabric Store to help restore it to a beautiful and/or cool piece. It might be re-upholstery project. It might be something else. But I’m excited to find out and share with you. And hopefully we’ll stick to the many flea market expert tips I’ve been reading through this week. Here are a few of them to keep in mind if you’re planning on heading to an antique show this season too.

  1. Dress Down. That means comfortable clothes and shoes to walk around in all day, and ones that don’t give off the impression “I can pay anything you want for that piece.”
  2. Mind Your pockets. Don’t keep your money or wallet in your back pocket or in a purse hanging loosely on your shoulder. Ideally, wear a small messenger or hand bag across your body so your money’s secure and you don’t have to think too much about it.
  3. Don’t be afraid to barter. Vendors price items knowing you’ll ask for a better deal. Name your price and go from there. If the price point is still just too high, start to walk away slowly and see what happens. They may just come after you with a nicer dollar amount.
  4. Think logistics. Bring a tape measure, a big old vehicle and a sturdy friend to ensure you can actually  load up and transport home whatever it is you end up buying.
  5. Bring cash. Many, but not all, vendors take cash. Wouldn’t it be a shame if that piece you really wanted couldn’t be bought with plastic? Other experts say having cash gives you a definitive limit to your shopping spree!

You can find more flea market tips from veterans over at Apartment Therapy and Elle Decor. If you have any good advice, leave us a comment below. And please share this post with your DIY &  flea market newbie friends by clicking one of the icons below!