Thursday, September 5, 2013

Walk Till You Drop and Shop, Shop, Shop

Flea markets, love 'em or hate 'em. I have vast experience with flea markets because my mother loved them.  My mother was a driver for an antique dealer in the late forties and early fifties.  It was one of the few jobs that allowed her to bring a baby to work with her.  So I grew up playing in numerous farmyards around the county while the antique dealer searched the occupant’s house for treasures they were willing to sell. Often we made several stops on the way home for the dealer to sell certain items that she bought that day. 

Later on my mother had a full time job, but we often spent our weekends looking for antiques. My mother’s love for the hunt never really changed but her entourage got bigger, as my children became part of this weekend activity. They  also learned to love the hunt and to cherish the great finds they collected. 
As for me, my mother has long since passed, but this hobby still continues. I have searched flea markets across the United States and even wandered through a few markets in foreign destinations.  The theme is always the same……walk till you drop and shop, shop, shop.
Over the years, I have developed some basic flea market get ready habits.  The night before the market I assemble my things.  I have a very light weight shoulder bag, not too big with my sunglasses, Kleenex, hand sanitizer, an aspirin (sometimes my feet hurt), and a bottle of water. The day of, I dress in layers, wear my sturdy hiking boots and carry cash. I arrive at the market early, usually on the first day while the dealers are setting up. I scout the area as best I can and note where there are items that I might be interested in buying.  After that it’s walk and shop.
Other people have different routines.  I have seen people ride their bikes or scooters around the perimeter to acquaint themselves with the grounds and the dealers.  Scooters and bikes are a real nuisance if the market is crowded and the drivers are trying to maneuver between the rows or in booths.  Equally annoying are the people dragging large basket carts because they clog up the aisles and prevent you from moving around the seller’s booth. These people are sometimes dangerous cart drivers, running into your legs and ankles.
Some people believe that the best time to attend a flea market is on the last day several hours before the market ends. The dealers are tired and starting to pack up their wares and they are often willing to bargain for a better price. Whenever you go to make a purchase, don't be afraid to haggle for a better price, but always do so in a respectful, courteous manner, these vendors are real people often selling their own possessions.
Do your homework before you go to a flea market, this is the only way you will know you are getting a good deal. If you need to, make lists; what your looking for and prices you are willing to pay. Try to avoid impulse shopping, by making sure you have a place or use for the items you are going to buy. You don't want to become a hoarder. Also, be careful not to fall into the trap of buying too many items that need to be fixed. Chances are, they never will get fixed. When I’m at the flea market, I look at the booths that display the items that I love the most, early American pattern glass, EAPG, but I rarely buy anything at these booths.  The dealers know what they have and their prices reflect that knowledge. To me their booth is just wonderful eye candy.
Over the years I have found some wonderful things at bargain prices at the flea markets.  And I guess that is why I still get up early, freeze in the cool morning and sweat in the hot afternoon sun.  The challenge is still there and like my mother, I love the hunt.
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