Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Girl's Guide to The Flea Market

On Saturday I had the opportunity to hit our local monthly flea/vintage market at DeAnza College in Cupertino. This is one of those higher-end markets that has regular vendors as well as artisans and can be a lot of fun.


 It's the first Saturday of every month, but in winter there are less sellers. The weather has been pretty mild, so a few friends and I decided to grab coffees and venture out early last weekend to see what finds were out there. I try to hit it a few times a year to see what treasures can be found. I am always surprised at those who never go, or ask questions about it.

Here's a few tips for those newbies who would like to, "flea," as my pal Jen and I say, but have no clue about it.

Scope out the particular market online and see what others tips are, where to park, etc. (For example, the De Anza flea has parking for $5 and you need to arrive early to access it.)

Dress in layers. I have rarely been to a flea market where I didn't freeze in the early morning hours and cook later.



On my way out the door, wearing layers of a lightweight North Face down jacket, a flannel shirt, warm scarf, plus a large, lightweight tote to carry purchases.


Hats are smart for warmth early on and sun protection later. You are out in the elements! Sunscreen and sunglasses are often forgotten when you start early in the a.m.. Be smart in the summer months. You'd be surprised how fast you can burn.

Comfy shoes are a must as well and I prefer warm boots or sneakers. Sandals in the summer look cute, but your feet can fry and yes you will walk a ton!

Bring along:

Water and a snack like almonds are nice to tuck into your bag.

Bags to hold your purchases. I carry a large tote that is light and have few smaller ones tucked inside.

Cash. You'll need small bills and a few $20s. Basically, I carry what I want to spend. This time I brought $60 and spent around $40. I also carry a check for more expensive items I might find like furniture.



My water, gloves, money and more-ready to go.

 Shopping Tips:

Keep your eye out for specific items. Certain vendors often specialize in things like silver or rugs. On this trip, I was looking for a tiny silver tea pot. No one had it, but I spoke with a gentleman who frequently has them and is there regularly. If you are keen to collect a particular item, it helps to chat up with sellers. They are often knowledgeable and can help you find what you are looking for.



Be nice to vendors. It helps to be friendly, and you may get a better price.

That said, be ready to haggle. It is after all a flea. If something is $28, you might ask if they will take $20, and often they will say they can do $23 or something. It usually goes like that. If something is especially inexpensive, like my print I scored for $3, I do not haggle. Be decent and use good judgement. If something seems priced too high for it's worth, move on.

It helps to examine potential purchases carefully. Has something been repaired or mended? Look for wear and tear and stains on clothing. The print I got (see below), was pristine, but I did look at it from many angles to see if there was an warping, water damage or fading from sun.

Be ready to nab a great find when you see it. Some of my biggest flea regrets were not grabbing something the first time I walked by it. I've hesitated on some authentic designer bags, antique cane chairs and other things that I kicked myself for later. Remember these are mostly one of a kind things, so grab something that you think you could love. It's usually gone when you go back.


This trip I was lucky to get a very pretty antique print of a German garden and home for $3 in wonderful condition with a very nice frame.



I also found a black dress I loved with pockets for $7 that I think will be great for summer and spring.

Another great vendor was a chic girl who made her own jewels.  I bought a cute necklace that was gold and very American Hustle looking. My friends purchased necklaces too. We spent the most dollars there, but her pieces had quality and were way below what they would be retail.




My favorite item was a scarf made of Yak wool! Who knew it was so soft, warm and beautiful? It was made in Nepal and cost me $10. The seller wanted me to pick another and sell me both for a total of $15. I wish I did so, but I wasn't sure. Now I'm bummed I didn't. The colors were lovely and it could have made super gift too.




Great items to look for at a flea market:

Vintage coats and bags- Many vendors specialize in cool ones from the 60s especially.

Books- They are always a bargain and there are sellers that have current titles as well as antique books. I have rarely come home without a book from one. Children's titles are especially a deal and copious.

Furniture- The best pieces get sold early so make haste!

Bikes and sporting goods- I found all my vintage wooden tennis and squash racquets there for less than $3 each and they sell on One King's Lane for $70 and up!


 

Jewelry- Vintage and designers with their own stands are ubiquitous.

Art- New as well as old are very popular.

Scarves and hats- Always a great deal here and new.

Plants!- Succulents were all over the place last weekend, but I have also bought some great olive trees as well as topiaries. Sellers with roses and citrus were quite busy..



Some of the succulents last weekend selling 2 for $1.50. She also had pots for terrific prices.

 I'd love to hear your experiences flea marketing. I really dig the thrill of finding that unique piece.  Stumbling across a market while traveling can also be a treat. I have been to Portobello Road in London, where I found the vendors a bit harsh, and a Hawaiian one, which was a real gem. One day, I'd love to get to a French one, (or as they say, marche aux puces), and closer to home, the Rose Bowl market someday.

For more inspiration see what the amazing treasure-hunting Terri, from the lovely blog, LA Dolfina, did with her finds from flea markets. She turned her son's bedroom into a Ralph Lauren-inspired haberdashery, and created the most glamorous dining room. Her home is beyond lovely. You'll adore her blog which sometimes shows the goods at the Alameda Point market which is the best in the Bay Area!


A very good guide and fun read to flea markets and such, is Good Morning Americas' Lara Spencer's book, here. Loved seeing what she does with her finds in her gorgeous home as well.






Happy fleaing!

Kim


My favorite fleaing bud and dear friend Jen, with me on the hunt last spring.

30 comments :

  1. How funny! I didn't know Lara Spencer has a book now - I miss her on the Hollywood shows. :) Also - you're so smart to layer up because there is nothing worse than shopping in the freezing cold. Those vintage tennis rackets are so cool!

    Great tips too

    xoDale
    www.savvyspice.com

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    1. Thanks Dale! Love her too! Yes, I cannot ever do cold and would rather look like the Michelin Man (is that aging myself?) than be chilly!! xx

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  2. It is so funny because I have been to a few markets where the people don't have a bag and bargain with someone to buy something for 12 dollars and give the guy a 100 dollar bill!! So this is a great guide and you have thought of everything! You are obviously a pro - what a score with that 3 dollar print! It would have been more expensive to find a frame for it hehe The portobello vendors you mentioned are funny enough not there for tourists but to trade like itnerior designers or for shops who are out in the countryside or in europe so they don't like to deal with retail clients as much. They just happen to be in Europe's busy markets is all! xx

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    1. Naomi, thanks I think I will have to try Portobello Rd again. I so loved all the amazing antiques and silver! I had kids with me and they didn't like that there.. Yes, some folks are so inconsiderate and they will never get a good deal being like that!

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  3. PS I can't believe your age!!! you look at least 10 years younger!!

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    1. Oh I love you Naomi! (You do know I only post fuzzy pics right? Lol) xxoo

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    2. Thanks and I like being old! It means you're getting wiser! ;)

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  4. I love going to flea markets! Your scarf looks fabulous and soft and what a great price....I would have trouble choosing just one. Looks like a fun day.

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    1. Hostess, it was tough choosing. Yes, super fun especially with pals!

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  5. Hey Kim,
    Sorry I have been MIA... You are too sweet for words!
    Thank you so much for the shout out.
    Now when are we hooking up to flea? That is the question:)
    Hope you have been well!
    Lots of Love,

    Terri

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    1. Terri, Thanks for letting me share your amazing talent and home!! Yes, meeting up with you is on my list!..Hoping this Spring maybe?? xo

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  6. Kim a lovely post my dear! As a fellow treasure hunter … you nailed this guide … so well done!

    I also went to the Portobello Road market … but the prices weren't as much of a treasure as I was hoping … especially the brooch lady :)) The Rose Bowl is good … but the first time it can be a bit overwhelming until you get your bearings. My favorite still is the Irvine Antique Market, it has many of the Rose Bowl vendors … but in a very comfortable venue.

    Next on my list to attend, is the Long Beach Market … I've heard really good things!

    xoxo
    Tamera

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    1. Tamera, we need to hunt together! Love to see what finds you get, you have such an amazing eye! Oh also just heard about Long Beach and that it's great!! xxoo

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  7. WOW! Great finds Kim:) I like to list here .. I'd add a Starbucks, especially on a freezing morning! (It's 20 degrees today!) ;);) Yes, you can find some wonderful pieces. Looks like you had a wonderful time! xxleslie

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    1. Leslie, we concur completely. A Starbucks stop was first priority and I don't know how I left it off this list!!! Wow, you are getting some cold up there. Stay cozy friend! xx

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  8. What a fun post! It makes me want to go a-flea-ing! Love the yak wool scarf and wish you had bought the second one for me! Hee! :D Great finds, and sounds like a good time!

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    1. Yes Dawn, I was out of my mind not scoring the other. DUH! See you learn from these trips and get better at it. Yes, we should def so a trip! Thanks so very much for the kind link to this dear. xoxo

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  9. This is so fun! I found the most amazing tea pots at Portobello Road, love it! Ive been meaning to check out the Alameda Flea market, this give me inspiration to go!

    xx, Tiffany { http://www.sunshinedaydreamphotography.com }

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    1. Tiffany, You fot a teapot at Portobello? So cool! Yes, Alameda seems to be the best and golly I'd love your photos of it!! Would be a beautiful post I bet! xx

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  10. Hello Kim-What a fantastic post on flea market strategies. You have some excellent markets in your area and you have some finds there. Love the scarf and jewelry numbers. My favorite was flea-ing in Paris at Clignancourt. We shipped a small container home for our booth at an antique collective. It was beyond fascinating...dripping with history. This is a perfect list to prep and I'll be keeping this.
    xx, H
    PS-you looked pretty in pink on HIWM today :)

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  11. Great read!!!!This makes me want to go to a flea market! Love the vintage racquet s!!

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  12. I really enjoyed this!! It makes me want to go to a flea market tomorrow. I also loved your finds of old tennis raquets- what a clever idea they look great and I also really love the painting that you found too good for you!

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    1. Joan, Thanks I think it was a good buy! Yes, was going to ask your designer opinion of the best thing to do with my racquets...Love them just in the umbrella stand, but have also seen them on a wall. Might be cute for one of the guys' rooms? xx

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  13. You are so organised and certainly go there prepared - great tips. I'm not good at haggling at all but you managed to find some bargains especially the scarf. What a gorgeous colour! When shopping in general I sometimes hesitate, think about it and it's always disappointing to go back and find it's gone. You are right to snap things up when you first see them. Wandering down Portobello Road in London is always fascinating. Enjoy your weekend, Kim!

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    1. Thanks Miss b. Yes, it took me a while to get brave enough to haggle! Love to get back to Portobello one day! Have a nice weekend too! xx

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  14. So fun! I'm addicted to flea markets and antiques shows. I always get really excited in the parking lot. Love your yak wool scarf!

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    1. Loi you sound like fun to shop with! Yes, thinking of buying more yak scarves! Thanks for stopping by!

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  15. I love flea markets and these are some great tips! Thanks for sharing.

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  16. Two cute photos of you today - love them. And you always have such good packing and now loving what's in your purse. Inspired me to have nicer pieces. You got some lovely things today in Cupertino - that black and white dress with pockets is just brilliant and those fabrics would (almost) make me want to sew.

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  17. Love the vintage racquets! You are lucky you found them! :-)
    It is fun to go to flea markets.
    I like in Chicago flea market on Maxwell Street.
    Lovely post!

    Margaret
    http://www.decordesireforbeauty.com/blog.html

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