Scoring the Best Flea Market Finds

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Posted on 01/15/2013

We've all heard about someone's brother's co-worker who bought a dusty lamp at a flea market that turned out to be worth thousands. Flea markets are full of hidden treasures and great value. But you've got to know what to look for and how to negotiate in order to score the best flea market finds.


Show Up Early
Shopping day is no time to sleep in. Get to the flea market early in order to avoid losing any treasures to other pickers. You'll have the best selection even if you are a little tired.

Know the Lingo
Flea markets have their own language. Learn who's a picker and who's a dealer, why you may want to look for "smalls" and what bric-a-brac is. Head to PBS.org for a quick lesson, known for successful shows like Antiques Roadshow and Market Warriors.

Look Past Condition
Condition matters, but try looking past it. Consider restoration costs before making a purchase. If you can score a diamond in the rough for bottom dollar and invest a little extra in fixing the item up you may be able to cash in, making a nice profit.

Keep Pairs Together
If you see a pair of something at the flea market it's best to go ahead and buy both. In terms of resale, you'll likely have better luck when you can offer a matching set rather than a solo item.

Bring Some Tools
If you're in the market for silver, bring along a polishing cloth. Pick one up for just $4.10 on Amazon.com. When inspecting tarnished silver it will help you uncover important markings. You may also want to bring along a flashlight for identifying cracks, flaws or markings.

Don't Be Afraid to Haggle
If you really want a bargain don't pay retail. Offer the dealer what you're willing to pay (or a little under) and be prepared for some back and forth. Prices are always negotiable at a flea market which means if you're good at it the bargains will be even more plentiful.

By Alison Storm

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