One Vendor's 6 Top Tips For Having Your Best Possible Outdoor Flea Market Shopping Experience

As a vendor, I am much more likely to give you a discount or special treatment if you're nice.
Publish date:
September 29, 2014
vintage, shopping, flea markets

Fall is a beautiful time of year to get out on the road and explore some outdoor flea markets. Whether you’re looking for mid-century décor or the perfect fit-and-flare fifties dress, I've got tips that will help you get the most out of your experience.

Weather protection is key.

This seems obvious, but I have made the mistake of getting uncomfortably hot or sunburned too many times! Be sure to put on your sunscreen, no matter the season. Floppy hats are also good, and if there is even a chance of rain, keep a small umbrella or plastic poncho in your bag.

Outdoor markets are a lot of fun, but sometimes braving the elements can be a challenge -- though it can absolutely be worth it for a good deal!

Bring snacks and drinks.

Most outdoor flea markets offer good and drink options, but there may be long lines or they may not have options that appeal to you. Keeping some snacks and a bottle of water in your bag will keep you hydrated and keep your energy up, which you need for all that shopping.

Wear layers or close-fitting garments, and bring socks if you're a germophobe.

Most booths will allow you to try things on, depending on your own level of comfort. A pair of shorts or leggings and a close-fitting tank or tee are your best bets without having to strip down to your undies to estimate the best fit. If you want to try on boots and shoes, consider bringing a pair of lightweight socks if you're not already wearing some.

And if you're really anxious about trying things on, bring a tape measure and know your measurements (bust, waist, hips). Remember: Tag sizes on vintage clothing are nothing like modern sizing!

Make a reasonable offer.

Many sellers are willing to bargain with you on prices, but remember that this is more than just a hobby for many of them. If items are not tagged, there is more wiggle room to barter with the sellers, but if they are, a reasonable low bid is not more than $5-$10, depending on the price of the item (if it’s over $50, you can probably ask for more of a discount).

Smile. Say hello. Make eye contact.

Sellers may spend hours sitting in a booth -- sometimes in bad weather, sometimes despite bad sales. Sometimes we're just desperate for a little human contact or an opportunity to talk about things we love. Don't be shy! Most sellers are not going to push you to buy something you don't want.

And here's a secret, since I’ve been a seller at an outdoor market: I am much more likely to give you a discount or special treatment if you're nice.

Reusable bags are a great idea.

If you are planning on going to a flea market and buying stuff, consider bringing a reusable bag or two (or at the very least, carry a big tote as your purse). It saves money on packaging for sellers and saves the planet, too.

Any other tips from seasoned buyers/sellers? Please, share!