Even before we moved, we started going to flea markets and antique shops looking for pieces for our new house. I love old pieces with a bit of history to them. The worn vintage look is just my favorite and hunting down those types of bargains are actually fun for me. I would rather walk around 20 antique stores than go to mall any day.
Pick the Perfect Flea Market Piece
Going to the flea market can be both a joyous AND extremely overwhelming experience. Looking at all of those antique items —all things you would love to have for your home— but you can’t buy it all. So how do you find that special piece at the flea market? Here are five tips to picking out the perfect flea market item.
1. Don’t be Impulsive
Go early and peruse the market. Know what you’re looking for and don’t settle for anything less. There are other flea markets and other days. And there are other vendors, so make sure you look at everyone first to see what they have. Once you have scanned the whole place, then you can go back to the one that you think has the piece you are looking for. If it’s gone when you return, maybe it just wasn’t meant to be.
2. Really Look at It
Color can be changed but shape can’t, so make sure you love the shape of it. Knowing the space you have to put it in will be a plus, too, because you will need to know if it will fit or not. Every time I want something the first question out of Colby’s mouth is always, “Where will you put it?”
3. Quality Not Quantity
You want to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck. Ask the vendor questions about the piece. Do they know who owned it? Do they know what time period it’s from?
Don’t take their word for everything, though —you know they’re trying to sell you something. Check for signatures of who made it. Look inside drawers on dressers, or under the seat on chairs and on the bottom of a table. Feel it. Is it heavy? Then it’s likely a good quality piece of wood. If it’s lightweight, then it’s probably not worth your time. Give it a tap. Is it solid wood or just a veneer (a thin piece of wood on top)? Older pieces will be made of wood. Do a quick Google search and see what you find!
4. Bring Some Tools
No you won’t be building or taking apart anything, most likely — so not those kinds of tools. Perhaps things like a magnifying glass, magnet, or flashlight. With these items you can get a closer look at the authenticity of a piece.
If someone is selling something as silver, then you want to know that it truly is silver. Put a magnet up to it and if it doesn’t stick, then you’ll know it’s not iron or steel. Look at it closely with a magnifying glass so you can find markers like “sterling” or “925” which indicates the silver content.
A flashlight will help you see these things better, and also if you’re in an indoor flea market it helps you see it in a better light. Plus, sometimes you have to dig through bins to find what you’re really looking for. A little extra light will go a long way in helping you in your search for that perfect antique piece of jewelry.
5. Know Your Stuff
Study the time period of the objects you are looking for, so you know the kind of wood or metal or the color and type of fabrics mostly used during that time period. Don’t get sold the fake Rolex because you didn’t know enough about the real thing to know that Rolex is spelled with one x and not two.
These might seem like obvious details but the more you know, the better you’ll be able to haggle a good price or know if it’s even worth your effort. If you don’t know it all, though, then have someone with you or a quick phone call away who can tell you what to look for or if a piece is worth it. Checking the value of similar items on the internet with your smartphone will help you get the best deal you can find.
You might leave a few flea markets empty handed, but you will eventually find that unique and special item. Make sure you go in knowing what you’re doing and ooze confidence the moment you arrive.
Have you found the perfect piece at a flea market yet?
Check out my FAVORITE find that now sits in my front sitting room!