Tips for a Successful Flea Market Shopping Trip

1. Dress casually and comfortably

Flea markets often require miles of walking, and some are outdoors in almost any weather. You want to be as comfortable as possible while not looking like you have too much money to haggle with the vendors. Try to fit in with the vendors and other shoppers. Comfortable shoes will keep sore feet at bay and keep your impression low-key. 

2. Be ready to haggle

If you feel uncomfortable haggling, you will lose out at flea markets. Some vendors do have firm prices, but many are willing to haggle, especially if you are buying several items. Start about 25% below the labelled price and be willing to be flexible on the deal you finally get. 

3. Show up early; leave late.

Deals go quickly at the flea market, and you may miss out on that great deal if you show up later in the day. It pays off to wait until the end of the day as well. Vendors may let go of items at a low price-if you are willing to wait it out. 

4. Eat first and bring snacks

Since you are walking all day, you want to be fortified for the day. Eat a high protein breakfast and an energetic drink of choice. Bring a refillable water bottle and a bag of snacks, so you don’t need to stop at a food truck. 

5. Make your plans before you leave and bring a pen. 

Make lists of any items you are hoping to find before you leave for the day. This helps you focus and prevents forgetting what you came for and wasting time. You could make separate lists of items you plan to spend money on and items you'd like to find or the future. Also, bring a paper and pen or your smartphone and take notes of potential future purchases and vendor names as you go.

7. Cash only

Make sure you bring cash, in small bills. Not every vendor has a credit card processing system, and ATMs can charge high usage fees. By carrying small, you can easily buy without worrying and keep track of your budget. 

8. Bring your own bag or cart 

Be prepared for bulky or large items by bringing your own gear to carry them. A backpack or cart allows you to buy in larger quantities or items without having to go back to your car constantly. 

9. Bring a friend. 

If you bring a friend or shopping buddy, you can share your lists and plans and expand your ability to find that bargain. You can split up and cover a wider range of tables or stick together and sort quickly through piles of records, books, or clothes. 

10. Don't procrastinate but be willing to walk away. 

When you see that perfect item, decide right then, or you might lose out. At the same time, be able to walk away if you feel pressured by the vendor.

11. Know your collectibles and ask questions. 

Make sure you know the background and details of collector's items you might be searching out. If you can't tell a reproduction or a fake, you may be taken in by what seems like a bargain but is just a rip off. Taking your phone along helps here, as you can look up pictures and details of rare or specialized collector's items.