Buying antiques at a flea market is similar to buying antiques at an antiques show which I wrote about in another post. Sometimes it is just a matter of calling it a flea market or an antiques show. But flea markets usually have many more things than just antiques. Unfortunately, some flea markets are having fewer and fewer antiques. Another name for flea market, especially in Texas, is trade day or trade days. Later, I will give a brief history lesson on Texas trade days. Flea markets are usually held on a monthly basis and there is usually a flea market close to any major city, and many smaller towns also. So check online for a flea market guide and see if there are any in your area. Antique prices are typically lower at a flea market compared to antiques shows because it is much less expensive to set up at a flea market as a dealer. But shopping for antiques can be more difficult because of all of the other merchandise the flea market vendors offer.
Part of the fun of going to a flea market is meeting all of the colorful flea market vendors. They tend to be a breed all of their own, and this is where we started as antique dealers, so I count myself one of them. Most flea markets have a reserved section where the regular dealers set up and an unreserved section where the vendors that don’t come every month set up. Although there are some regular dealers that prefer to set up in the unreserved section. This makes it more convenient for the antique shoppers. If you find an antique dealer that carries the type of things you like, whether it’s Roseville pottery or American oak furniture, you will know where to find them each month. Some flea markets will even have maps to help you find your way around the grounds. Now I am talking about the large outdoor flea markets that are spread out over acres.
Some flea markets just run over the weekend where others will last five or more days. The bigger they are, the more time you need to shop. Some are so big that it is impossible to see all of it in one day. So be sure and dress comfortably. Most offer scooters for those that have problems walking. The casual antique shopper will really enjoy the flea market atmosphere. There is usually all sorts of local foods offered at various stands. And you never know what you will find at a local flea market. There are the professional flea market vendors that might be offering the latest in home decor. Around all of the major holidays, you will always find all sorts of imaginative decorations. You will find crafts of all kinds, jewelry, clothes, toys, electronics, and nearly anything you can imagine. Some even have a section where people sell animals.
Now if you are a serious antique buyer, this almost carnival atmosphere might be frustrating. But you are more likely to uncover a gem at a flea market than at an antiques show. You are likely to see some of your local antique dealers at these local markets trying to find inventory they can buy and resell. After you have been to a flea market a few times, you will learn where the dealers are that you want to see. So you can skip all of the other things if they don’t appeal to you. But keep your eye out for some of the things that might help you in your quest for antiques. There might be a antiques restoration vendor that had hardware that you might need for that old antique trunk you bought that is missing a handle. There might even be a book dealer that has antique reference guides at reduced prices. If you are visiting an area, be sure and check online for the flea markets in that area. In another post I will be writing about the world’s largest flea market. That is where I will give the history of why some flea markets are called “trade days.” Here is the link to my description and story about the “World’s Largest Trade Days.”