Tips for a Winning Flea Market Trip

When it comes to shopping for unique items for your home, there is just no better place to visit than the flea market. You never know what the heck you’re gonna find, and most prices are bound to be pretty dang low. Just where we like ’em.
Recently the rookies decided to trek up to the Kane County Flea Market in St. Charles, IL for some good ol’ fashioned bargain hunting. (*If you’re a Chi-town resident, definitely hit this place up. They’re only open on the first weekend of every month, so plan accordingly.)
bridget and casey love flea market trips even when it's cold out
Now, if you’re new to the “flea market game” don’t you worry. We’ve outlined all of the steps so you can make the most of your trip.
Warm up

Just like any good athlete, you need to warm up before the big game. In order to have a successful performance, you need to put in some time during this crucial preparation phase. Here’s what that entails before your first big flea market trip.

1. The Gameplan: Grab a small notebook that will fit in your purse or bag. We suggest you write down a list of all of the treasures that you’re keeping an eye out for. It’s also important to write down some measurements. For example, if you’re hunting for a new dresser, you’ll want to measure your space at home and have those measurements written down in your notebook.

cash is king at flea markets so make sure you come prepared

2. Cash is King: Some vendors do accept cash, debit, and credit cards. But trust us, you don’t want to be that person holding up the line. You’ll have more bargaining power if you have cash in your hand when negotiating with a vendor. Be sure to hit the ATM before the big day.

Some flea market trip essentials include a list, a tape measure, and some snacks for later

3. Equipment: You wouldn’t show up to play baseball without your bat, gloves, and cleats. Thrifting is the same. You need to have your “equipment” ready to go. Here’s a good list of supplies…
-tape measure
-newspaper (to wrap up any fragile purchases)
-an empty bag or small collapsible cart (for storing your finds)
-snack & water (keep hydrated and fuel up to keep on going!)

Bundle up with gloves scarves for outdoor flea market
4. Don’t Dress to Impress: Instead, be sure to dress for the weather. Some flea markets feature both indoor and outdoor vendors. We recently went at the beginning of March and there was still snow on the ground in Illinois. Get out your scarves, hats, mittens and bundle up! Be sure to wear the correct footwear too. Boots (especially ones that you can rinse off) are probably your best bet.
Here’s something we didn’t keep in mind on our last visit. Many big flea markets get extremely crowded. We’re talking shoulder to shoulder, suck it all in, squeeze between people kinda crowds. If you’re with a group, we suggest wearing something brightly colored so you can spot your fellow shoppers. Unfortunately we didn’t take this advice and were texting/calling every time we got lost. #rookiefail.
The only person we easily kept track of was Janimal and her brightly colored winter coat. #yougogirl
flea markets can get pretty busy so dress to stand out in a crowd
Game Time

Okay, so you followed the warm-up and you’re now ready for the game to begin. Here are some tips for a winning flea market trip.

Coffee is always necessary for early flea market trips

1. Set your Alarm: The saying “the early bird gets the worm,” definitely applies here. Get there early and beat the afternoon crowds.  Browsing with a coffee in hand is our favorite way to shop!

Colorful vintage picture frames at the flea market

2. Do a Lap (or 2): It may be a good idea to get the lay of the land at the flea market. Peruse each aisle just to see what is being offered. That way you can plan your day accordingly. This may not be applicable at every flea market (some are sooooo huge!), but if it’s a smaller space feel free to roam.

Large vintage decorative letters at the flea market

3. Don’t Hesitate: If you hesitate about a purchase, there is a good chance the piece won’t be there when you get back. If you’re in L-O-V-E…take the plunge, and go for it!

Vintage Dr. Pepper, Seven-Up, and Coca-Cola soda trays

4. Negotiate: Here’s something we really need to drill into your head. Flea market dealers expect you to negotiate…so go for it! We know it can seem strange to haggle over a few dollars, but we’re telling you most vendors really enjoy that part of the process! It may seem scary at first, but after bargaining a few times you will be a natural. Here are some tips for any negotiating newbies…
-Don’t show your excitement over a piece.
-Never admit how much you love something, because that weakens your negotiating power.
-Remain calm and casually ask for the price
-Here are 2 wonderful lines to have in your arsenal…
“Is that your best price?” & “Can you do any better?”

You're always going to find unique items like this dog figurine at the flea markets
Post Game

Great job…you’ve scored some fabulous deals and now have unique goodies for your home! We just have some final tips to really make your trip a home run.

Always come to the flea market with some extra helping hands

1. Bring the big “guns”: Look at Bridget’s dad being such a gentleman. He came along for our flea market shopping trip and kindly offered to carry all of our scores. What a guy! It never hurts to have an extra helper (or two) to help carry all of your new treasures.

Make sure you have enough room in your car to store your flea market finds

2. Sliding into Home: You need to make sure there is plenty of room in your car when hitting up a flea market. That may mean that you and your shopping buddy drive separate vehicles. It would be a shame to find the perfect item, and have to pass it up because your backseat is filled with people. Sorry friends…flea market finds take precedence over you today!

The teacher in Bridget fell in love with this vintage pencil sharpener she found at the flea market may even find your very own $4 pencil sharpener at the flea market. It must be a teacher thing??
So there you go…our list of tips and tricks to have a WINNING trip to the flea market. I’m sure we forgot many…so why don’t you help add to the list. Can you think of anything we forgot?
We hope everyone has a wonderful weekend… flea market shopping anyone? Can’t wait to see you back here Monday morning.