It’s finally cooled off enough to hit flea markets. Are you looking for a one of a kind piece for your home or apartment? Flea markets are my favorite place to find those unique things that can set your home apart. A good mix of new and old will make your home feel more livable and designed.
Flea markets can be a great place to find one of a kind art, furniture, lighting and accessories. Unlike walking into a brick and mortar store, prices can vary drastically at flea markets.
Follow these tips to get the best prices on your flea market haul this fall. Find tips for how to make the most of your shopping trip and have fun since flea markets can be an all day event. They can be a bit overwhelming if you have never been before.
How to negotiate prices at a flea market
Flea market prices can vary significantly from one dealer to another. There are ways to ensure that you get the best deal possible. Follow these five tips to get the best prices at your flea market.
Shop on the last of the flea market
If you want the best prices and the flea market is a multiple day event, you will get the best prices on the last day. It’s a pain to haul all of the inventory to and from a flea market sale. Sellers are looking to take as little as possible back home, so they are more likely to cut deals on the last day.
ask for a discount
Sellers at these types of venues expect to haggle, but it’s not a garage sale. It’s best not to insult the seller by asking too little. Consider that for most of these folks, this is their livelihood and not just a fun hobby. Chances are that most dealers have some idea about the market value of their goods, so you don’t want to insult them by asking for too low of a price.
My favorite thing to say is “what’s your best price?” I got this tip from my mom. I think this works better than throwing out a number because they may give you a smaller number than you would have asked for. After you ask, wait for them to answer. Don’t jump in with a number.
Pay with cash instead of credit
Sellers have to pay a credit card fee if you pay card. This costs the seller roughly 3% on average. If you pay with cash sometimes they don’t charge sales tax (not really legal) and they are more willing to work with you on price. Most of the dealers don’t accept checks.
buy multiple things from one dealer
You might find as you walk around a flea market that one or two dealers really have a lot of stuff you like. This is always the case for me. I’ll find one dealer that has 10 things I really like and sometimes it’s just the way they display their goods. You are more likely to get a good price if you buy multiple items from one dealer. You can ask, something vague like “what can you do on the price if I take this and that?”
be willing to walk away
If there is something that you can’t live without, by all means DON’T walk away, but if you like something and can live without, be willing to walk away. If you have the time, come back an hour before the show shuts down and make your offer again.
Make the most of your flea market trip
Walk the whole flea market
I like to get to a flea market when they open, mostly because they are outside and in Texas it’s HOT. I walk through all of the stalls fairly quickly without buying anything. I bring a notebook and make a quick note of the locations of stalls I want to come back to and the item(s) I liked. I also snap a photo if the dealer doesn’t object.
Go back to Your top 5 booths
Once you know the lay of the land the odds are there will be a small handful of stalls that have things you like. There are usually only 4-5 that have things that I am considering buying. It’s best if you can group your purchases because you get a better deal if you buy more than one thing from a vendor.
Vendors tend to respond positively when you like a lot of their stuff, because they do too! You are complimenting them on their good eye, and who doesn’t appreciate a compliment? This makes them more likely to cut you a deal when you ask.
Last spring I went to Round Top Flea market and there was one stall where every piece in there was speaking my language. I struck up a conversation with the seller about where they were from before I started asking about prices. This is an example of one booth where I liked many things.
Have fun and enjoy the food
Many of the best flea markets are great places to get ideas for things you can make yourself even if you don’t buy anything. I took so many photos of things to remind myself of a project that I could DIY.
Here’s an example of a DIY project idea from Round Top. We came upon this booth where the seller had taken old buckets and added an upholstered seat to them to make a stool and a bench. Such a cute idea for a porch or outdoor living area and they wouldn’t be hard to make.
Many flea markets have food from from local churches or schools that is delicious. Be sure you take a break from your marathon shopping to enjoy some of the treats. At Round Top they even serve wine, which is genius because that’s a great way to get people to really start spending.
I can’t recommend flea market shopping enough. I think having a mix of new and old things can really shows off your home’s personality. Flea markets are a great way to find gently loved things at a reasonable price. Try these tips for getting the best prices and having some fun.