Magnolia trees are unfurling tender blossoms and daffodils are poking their heads through cold soil. Soon we’ll be treated to a parade of white, magenta, and yellow blooms. Sweet fragrances will carry on the breeze like notes of a flute. Another reason to welcome spring is the profusion of flea and antiques markets. Whether you’re planning on hitting the Lincoln Road antique and collectible market in Miami, the Brooklyn Flea, the Rose Bowl market in Pasadena, the New Caladonian antiques and flea market (also known as Bermondsey) in London, the puces in Paris and Provence, or any other flea market worldwide, follow these 6 suggestions and you’ll be prepared to go elbow-to-elbow with the pros.
1. Arrive early. The good stuff goes fast. No matter how early you get there, you probably won’t be alone. Ardent shoppers armed with flashlights and tanked up on caffeine hunt down the best treasures before the sun fully rises.
2. Wear comfortable shoes. Flea markets usually involve a lot of walking. Many take place on grassy areas (for example, the spectacular Brimfield antique show in western Massachusetts which spans several fields). When that’s the case, leave the sandals behind and wear a closed-style shoe. You don’t want to be chilled or damp or stepping in yucky debris when your attention should be focused on having a good time.
3. Keep hydrated. No matter how much water I bring, I usually run out and wish I’d brought more. Your mood and endurance will stay stronger if you’re not thirsty.
4. Expect to be overwhelmed. Flea markets are, by their nature, dizzying with the array of goods on display. Go into the experience knowing that it’s impossible to see everything.
5. Bring cash—and in small denominations. Your negotiating leverage goes up if you’re able to pay cash, not credit or check. Also, to make the case for a better price, it’s more convincing if you’re not pulling out a wad of large-denomination currency.
6. Also bring: a cart or stroller (or at least a sturdy rucksack), hand sanitizer, and Kleenex (think PortaJohns). Sunscreen and a hat are indispensable for outdoor flea markets.
Happy hunting and happy spring!