How to Shop a Flea Market

Want your home to have an eclectic look? Hit the local flea market.

True Style

Shopping for home décor becomes an ultra-fun sport when you search for flea market deals. Here's how to play the game.

Timing is everything.

If you're on the prowl for a particular type of item, arrive early for the best selection. On the other hand, if bargain hunting is the name of your game, head out later in the afternoon, when sellers are more likely to make a deal. And while sunny, warm days make shopping more pleasant, inclement weather means less competition.


Ryan Homes in Richmond County

New Homes in Richmond County

A new house really feels like home after you've given it your personal style. And don't you just love home décor with some character and history? Once you've purchased one of our new homes in Richmond County, Virginia, stop by an area flea market for one-of-a-kind furniture, accessories and accents.

Prepare for the day.

Bring a bottle of water and stash some healthy, non-perishable snacks in your bag. Dress in layers, as temps will change throughout the day. Also, two words: comfortable shoes.

Scope it out.

It's tempting to snap up the first bauble that catches your eye, but hold off until you've had a chance to walk the booths and get an overview of who's selling what. You might find a better version at a lower price.

Negotiate with moxie.

Some tips for effective haggling:

  • Underdress for success. Keep it casual and low-key; no expensive-looking clothes, jewelry or accessories. This way, you'll avoid giving away cues about your style and budget.
  • Manners go a long way. Asking whether the seller will accept a lower price is a better tactic than a blunt “I'll give you ten dollars” when the tag says $30. Aim for two-thirds to three-quarters of the original asking price.
  • Buy in multiples. Sellers may be more inclined to give you a good deal—and less likely to focus on their asking price for any one item—when you offer to purchase a group or collection.
  • Maintain your poker face. Don't ooh and ahh over an item, no matter how much you covet it. At the same time, if you've got your heart set on something, don't let another shopper walk off with it, even if it means you don't score the best possible deal.
  • Don't be a pushover. If a seller doesn't respect your know-how or tries to press you into paying more than you believe an item is worth, walk away. (And don't be surprised if they call you to come back.)

Envision the possibilities.

Often, the best flea market items offer extra possibilities beyond their original use or condition. If a piece of furniture catches your fancy with a unique shape but is looking a bit dingy, transform it with a fresh coat of paint or updated fabric.

Don't rely on plastic.

While some flea market vendors are set up to accept credit cards, most require cash—and you're less likely to obliterate your budget if you're forking over actual bills.

Ryan Homes Tip: If you're heading out in search of larger pieces of furniture, artwork or outdoor items, plan your transportation accordingly. Line up an extra pair of hands (or three) for help with heavy lifting.