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Glynis
09-08-2005, 04:04 AM
Hi! I have a character who is currently working a "Flea Market" in New England. The market is more upscale than a typical out of the car trunk kind of sale. The wares border on antiques (junque.)

Have you ever worked one? Then I have mountains of questions for you. If you were willing to help out a friend in need of some details, I would be forever in your debt.

Do you go to them? What are you looking for/what do you buy?

What about the piece makes you buy it? Is it the aesthetics? The story behind the object? Functionality? A treasure hunt?

How much are you willing to spend on that special conversation piece?

I would love to hear any and all thoughts about Flea Markets.

Thank you in advance!

Glynis

Minister
09-08-2005, 06:57 PM
Well, I've never worked at one of these flea markets, but I've certainly been to a few, and made some purchases at them.

Do you go to them? What are you looking for/what do you buy?


I do (obviously) go and I actually go whenever I reasonably get the chance (not that this is all that often). I'm always on the specific lookout for two things, both minor quirks of mine. One, I'm always looking for arrowheads (or spearheads, scrapers, etc. -- American Indian artifacts). I collect these, and although I prefer to find them on my own, I'll purchase them when I find ones that appear to be genuine and affordable. An upside to purchasing these is that people who find them (generally hunters, farmers, or kids) often have no idea of their actual value. They're not especially easy to look up (not like a coin, for instance), so they're often underpriced. I suspect that this is a reason why a lot of people go to these flea markets; they hope to discover an antique or some such whose value they are more familiar with than the seller would be. The second thing I look for is any unique chess set. These are much harder to find in an affordable price range -- but I'm always looking anyhow.

Beyond those things, I'll browse and generally enjoy looking at all the neat stuff. I've bought books (surprise, huh?) and artwork (you can sometimes get very good artwork pretty cheap at flea markets, if you're shopping for a picture, not the name on the picture), and I think a few random gadgets and gizmos.


What about the piece makes you buy it? Is it the aesthetics? The story behind the object? Functionality? A treasure hunt?

Probably more the treasure hunt factor, although the functionality comes into play for anything other than the arrowheads and chess sets. The story behind the item is meaningless to me (although I'll usually try to find out where the arrowheads were found, who found them, etc.), because the seller can be, and likely is, just making it up to sound neat.


How much are you willing to spend on that special conversation piece?

No more than I can convince myself that I can afford. :Shrug: This is therefore a different amount at different times. Depending on how unique the piece is, I might try harder to convince myself to afford it. I try never to listen to the seller about how quickly this will probably disappear, and how I'll never again see anything like it for this cheap, cheap price of thirty percent off, just for me.

I really enjoy browsing flea markets, even if I leave without buying anything. I don't like shopping, but there is a different feel to wandering through the stalls/booths and looking at things you've never seen before, or thought you'd never see again. I wouldn't want to do it every weekend (though there are people, especially these antique treasure hunters, who do), but it's fun every once in a while. If you have any other questions, feel free to let me know. Hope this helps.

Pat~
09-08-2005, 07:18 PM
Hi! I have a character who is currently working a "Flea Market" in New England. The market is more upscale than a typical out of the car trunk kind of sale. The wares border on antiques (junque.)

Have you ever worked one? Then I have mountains of questions for you. If you were willing to help out a friend in need of some details, I would be forever in your debt.

Do you go to them? What are you looking for/what do you buy?

What about the piece makes you buy it? Is it the aesthetics? The story behind the object? Functionality? A treasure hunt?

How much are you willing to spend on that special conversation piece?

I would love to hear any and all thoughts about Flea Markets.

Thank you in advance!

Glynis

Hi Glynis--I've never worked a flea market, though I have been an antique dealer and can probably answer at least a few of your questions. As a dealer I frequented many flea markets--looking for anything that was a good buy and that was a good seller for me. (My specialty was antique and collectible costume jewelry--and I can still tell you the details of a good buy there!) I loved the jewelry because of the craftsmanship and history linked to it. (And dealers will usually specialize in what they love--because they may end up keeping some of the inventory!) I was willing to spend up to 50% of what I thought my customer would be willing to pay (if the purchase was for resale). Part of the appeal to me was getting a good deal, so I was never willing to pay 'market' or 'book value' for an item, whether personal or business. (There are yearly market guide books for almost every known type of antique/collectible.) I knew that most diehard collectors also shared that 'treasure hunt' mentality, so I bought with the idea of giving them a 'good buy' price as well. One little known fact about flea markets (at least here in the USA); many dealers take their slow-moving store stock to them, often setting them out for sale without reducing the price! So, they're not always the source of good deals. The best deals are usually snapped up by the dealers themselves, during the hours before the market officially opens to the public. The best time for a customer to get a good deal is:
1) the first hour the market is open (for what the dealers missed!)
2) the last afternoon the market is open (the dealers would rather not pack it all up)
3) a rainy or bad-weather day

Happy shopping! (PM me if you want any other info.)

johnnysannie
09-08-2005, 10:31 PM
I really haven't worked a flea market (although I have hung out in the past with friends who did) but I'm a veteran flea market shopper.

As others have indicated, I have several specific kinds of things I am looking for - the treasure hunt type mind set. It's my thought that most flea market shoppers (as well as many rummage sale hounds) have their own short list of what they are seeking.

In my case, it's old LP's - specific ones, namely Johnny Horton. The albums must be in good (or excellent) condition or I won't buy them. I collect a few other vintage C&W albums, also some carnival glass, tea pots, and vintage 40's and 50's items. I also buy a lot of my paperback books - if they're clean and not too used - at flea markets. I read a lot so I go through a lot of books and they are much cheaper at flea markets.

My husband has bought tools, hubcaps, and various "guy" things.

I am also prone to buying something I see and really like even if it's not on my list.

Hope that helps!

Oh, my friends who did work flea markets bought stuff everywhere - garage sales, rummage sales, goodwills, scrounged around in friends' attics, closets, basements, etc. They asked for anything someone didn't want or need and wanted to be rid of.

Glynis
09-09-2005, 04:57 AM
Wow, you guys are great! The wheels in my head are already turning.

PB10220, I do have a few questions for you. Not too many I promise! I will put them together and PM you. Thanks!

Glynis

Saanen
09-10-2005, 03:48 AM
A few Saturdays ago I made a cool $300 at our local flea market (and cleaned out the closets to boot). I've sold there before as well from time to time, when the clutter gets too great and I have a Saturday morning free with the need for some quick cash. So if you want to shoot me a PM feel free. I don't know how much my experiences will apply, since I live in East TN, but our flea market is a very large, established one and runs the gamut from junk to antiques.

I don't know if anyone else has mentioned it, but the best dealers are at the site long before dawn. The other week we arrived at 6am and the place was packed. The dealers surrounded the truck as we were unpacking, and since it was still dark they had flashlights. We sold probably half our stuff before the actual public started coming by, because we had priced everything rock bottom just to get rid of it and we had some quite nice things (including antiques and some furniture) and were happy to take even lower offers. Many people resold our stuff for a profit--but that was fine with us, we had our money and didn't have to worry about taking anything home with us. :)

Glynis
09-10-2005, 04:29 AM
I don't know if anyone else has mentioned it, but the best dealers are at the site long before dawn. The other week we arrived at 6am and the place was packed. The dealers surrounded the truck as we were unpacking, and since it was still dark they had flashlights. We sold probably half our stuff before the actual public started coming by, because we had priced everything rock bottom just to get rid of it and we had some quite nice things (including antiques and some furniture) and were happy to take even lower offers. Many people resold our stuff for a profit--but that was fine with us, we had our money and didn't have to worry about taking anything home with us. :)

Thanks! That is really great to know.

Glynis

Munchkin
09-10-2005, 08:43 AM
I love to go to Flea Markets. My home town has two of them and neither are of the behind the truck kind.

The first one is an old Wal Mart that someone decided to turn into a flea market. In the back, what I assume was once a store room, is now a dance hall that people can rent to throw parties or hold dances. There is a Mary Kay booth, a booth with those kind of purses that have picture of classic movie stars which also sells items that promote gay pride. One booth sells leather items, like purses, belts, and wallets, while another sells Native American items.

The second one looks like an old ware house and sells everything from toys and clothes, to computers and cell phone plans. In fact both Sprint and T-mobile have a booth there. You can even buy your wedding dress there, by ordering out of a catalog in one of the booths.

Also in the back, they seels tons of treats like Mexican candy, snowcones, and pickles.

One year I did my Christmas shopping at the flea market. What I like most about isn't so much the prices. It's the atmosphere. It's like being in a carnvial with the music in the back ground, and every body trying to get you to go in thier booth. You run into people you haven't seen in a while. You remember events you haven't thought about in a long time, as you look up and see a giant Smurf doll hanging from one of the booths.

I'm not sure if this will help you much. I'm from South Texas, and I'm sure that is tons different then the area you are talking about, but every little bit helps. :)

Glynis
09-10-2005, 05:36 PM
I love to go to Flea Markets. My home town has two of them and neither are of the behind the truck kind. :)

Thanks Munchkin.

You draw a very nice picture of what you experience. The fact that the markets are different in structure isn't as important as what the experience of going conjures. In fact you have given me some great ideas to run with!

triceretops
09-10-2005, 05:44 PM
Glynis--not to too my own horn on the subject but since I wrote the first book on the topic, I will toot-toot. It's called Garage Sale Mania, which covers everything from yard sales, tag, garage sales, liquidations, indoor/outdoor swap meets and flea markets, auctions, moving sales, estates sales....well the list goes on. It answers every question you posed. It's on Amazon for 2 or 3 dollars. My full name is Chris H. Stevenson. I hope you find it. It's used but topical on the subject.

Triceratops

threedogpeople
09-10-2005, 11:13 PM
One of the oldest is First Monday Trade Days in Canton, Texas. Here are some web sites that may help with your research.

www.firstmondaycanton.com (http://www.firstmondaycanton.com)

www.cantontradedays.com (http://www.cantontradedays.com)