I was not always a master of the flea market.
Like many things in my life, learning how to conquer a flea market took time. I learned from the best (my friend Danielle) who truly had a knack for it. We would go every Saturday to a crazy flea market in Chicago (think jewelry to car parts) in search of nothing more then something awesome. I would watch her sift and easily find gems hidden among the crazy piles of what looked like crap to me. But she saw something different. She saw the diamond in the ruff, she saw the sparkle, she saw the prize. This is where I began to hone my flea market shopping skills. First lesson learned, don’t go looking for anything in particular, go looking for everything. Your treasure will find you.
Flea markets often look just like the picture above. They are overwhelming, un-merchandised mazes of everything from old shoes to cool records (you remember those, don’t you?). Sometimes it seems endless, there are tables upon tables with piles of “junk” scaring the average shopper into giving up. Don’t give up, follow these simple rules for becoming your own mater of flea market finds:
1: Accessories, mostly baubles, are the easiest thing to sift through. Your treasure hunter skills should be honed at any jewelry vendor that catches your fancy. Additionally, this is typically where you will find the coolest stuff that is in the best condition. There are so many amazing vintage pieces waiting to be loved by you, both real and costume. Price points can range, but this is a pretty inexpensive way to build your collection. And it is easy to sift through without having a coronary.
2. Fur is plentiful and the lovely ladies of the 50′s have lots to give. Some of my best vintage pieces involve some sort of fur. If a full fur coat isn’t your thing, check out the amazing hats and scarves. Yes they may smell a little funny, but at a quarter of the price they would be sold for in a store, you can get it dry cleaned!
3. Patience is a virtue. One of the reasons I LOVE flea markets is because you are not looking for anything in particular and there is a great joy in moseying along. My whole life is built around shopping off a list for clients so during my own shopping time being free of that makes me really happy. Remember, going to a flea market is about the experience and rushing through defeats that. Rest assured your treasure will find you if you let it….
4. Bargaining is fun. Nothing is ever what they say it is, so negotiate. It is almost offensive if you don’t! Half the fun of finding your new treasure is telling everyone what a steal you got it for. Like any good negotiation, you should not throw out the first number. But once they do, play ball.
This is one of my favorite pieces I own from a flea market. It is totally vintage and it is totally awesome. I practice yelling, “It’s fake!” to people who are about to throw paint on me, but it is actually very real. I figure some grandma really wanted me to have it and since I am buying it second hand, I am saving it from filling up unnecessary space in a landfill. Plus, I look really fabulous in it.
This dress was brand new and still had the tags on it when I found it. She is by DVF and only cost me 50 bucks. Occasionally you do come across these rare gems, but it is once in a blue moon. I am pretty sure this was a sample that never found a home…. Until I met her. It took an entire roll of double stick tape to hold it on (which is most likely why it was a sample), but I know for a fact that all of the older gentleman at the wedding loved me. Apparently they still call me, “The girl in the dress”. Boo yea.
This is just a small compilation of some of my favorite pieces I have acquired over the years from flea markets all over the world. I have not only traveled this great country in search of my latest and greatest treasure, but I have crossed oceans. The BEST flea market I have ever been to is in London and it is called Portobello market. Seriously, it is dope and I could have sifted my way through that thing for 2 days straight. Once you fully become a master of the flea market, you will actually get a high from your finds.
So now is the time for all of you who want to cheat the system. Those who want to look like they are genius flea market shoppers, but truly are not prepared for the tizzy it may cause. The collage above is filled with great look-a-like options to purchase directly from the internet. You can look like a master of the flea market without ever leaving your couch. I won’t tell:)