21 Frequent Errors to Keep away from Whereas Procuring at Flea Markets and Vintage Exhibits

Photograph: Lisa Maughmer/Springfield Vintage Present & Flea Market

Merchandise on show in a sales space on the Springfield Vintage Present and Flea Market, together with a {hardware} storage cupboard, an unique portray, and a pair of Hollywood Regency brass desk lamps.

Individuals go to flea markets for a wide range of causes: some out of economic necessity, others for the joys of the hunt, or so as to add to a set, or to sustainably supply distinctive objects to furnish their properties or put on themselves. Rising up, most of my journeys to thrift shops, rummage gross sales, and flea markets fell into the primary class. By no means one to overlook a chance to show an on a regular basis exercise right into a studying expertise, my mom taught me and my sister learn how to sift via piles and bins of secondhand merchandise in search of higher-quality objects, as a result of, as she put it, “It’s not a cut price if it’s cheaply made and goes to disintegrate tomorrow.”

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As we dug deep for buried treasures, she’d level out kitchen instruments that had been as soon as present in each house earlier than changing into largely out of date, the distinction between furnishings made from particle board and stable wooden, and when an merchandise of classic clothes was first in type—together with imparting different tidbits of retail knowledge she known as “being a sensible shopper.”

Whereas these early classes have served me properly, I’ve additionally realized a number of others in my maturity, together with learn how to haggle after years of paying full value at flea markets with out trying to get a greater deal. Should you’ve had an analogous expertise, you’re in luck, as a result of I spoke with 5 business specialists who revealed learn how to keep away from this and different frequent flea market and vintage present errors. Right here’s learn how to benefit from your procuring excursions forward of the busy fall season.

Earlier than you get there

Taking a bit of time to plan forward goes a good distance when making a visit to a flea market or vintage present, says Jon Jenkins, proprietor and promoter of the Springfield Vintage Present and Flea Market, which has been drawing vintage and classic lovers from all components of the world to central Ohio since 1969. As he additional explains, “You’ve got individuals who’ll drive 5 hours to get to a present, however gained’t suppose to verify the climate or do a little bit of legwork earlier than coming. Exhibits like Springfield usually occur rain or shine—so carry sunscreen, put on clothes acceptable for the climate, carry layers, and put on comfy sneakers.” Along with not checking the climate forecast, different frequent errors embrace:

Coming with out money

Although some distributors settle for bank cards, checks, or apps like Venmo or PayPal, “money continues to be king” in accordance with Jon, who has owned the Springfield present since 1999. “Distributors love money as a result of it’s speedy gratification: They don’t have to attend for a verify to clear, or for [money from] bank cards to hit their account,” he provides.

Even when you realize a selected flea market usually has ATMs out there, that’s not a assure that they’ll all be working or have cash left while you want it. Lastly, money may help you keep on price range. Should you can solely afford to spend a specific amount, bringing all of it in money will pressure you to concentrate to the place your cash goes, and when it’s gone, it’s gone.

Sporting the fallacious outfit

Together with dressing for the climate, when you plan to buy classic clothes at a flea market, Jamil proprietor Neko Jamilla recommends sporting one thing “comfy however tight” so that you’re in a position to attempt objects on earlier than buying them.

“With classic clothes, match is all the pieces, and it’s higher to throw a gown on over your outfit fairly than simply eyeing it,” she says. “Most flea markets don’t have becoming rooms out there, which implies you threat shopping for one thing you gained’t be capable of slot in or return.”

Forgetting to take measurements

Whether or not you’re purchasing for a particular piece of furnishings on a deadline or have a listing of things that you’d finally like so as to add to your private home (however are holding out for the right ones), take any measurements you want earlier than going to a flea market or vintage present. Jot down each the utmost and minimal dimensions for every potential buy, so that you don’t fall in love with one thing solely to carry it house to seek out that it doesn’t match.

Alongside the identical strains, if there’s any risk that you simply’ll buy bigger objects, measure your automobile’s trunk or cargo house earlier than you begin procuring. This fashion you’ll know what you’ll (and gained’t) be capable of match inside and produce house. However don’t put that tape measure away: Toss it in your bag so that you’re in a position to take measurements earlier than getting severe about shopping for any larger items.

Bringing individuals who aren’t into flea markets

As a lot as you would possibly wish to spend your Saturday along with your good friend or vital different, in the event that they’re not going to benefit from the expertise, Neko thinks you’re higher off leaving them at house. “It’s so vital that you’ve got somebody as excited and as you might be,” she says. “If [you don’t], you find yourself feeling rushed, discouraged, or drained by the top of the day. Have a supportive shopper in your aspect!”

Getting into with out fundamental info on the occasion

There’s no have to do in depth analysis on a present earlier than you go, however no less than take a couple of minutes to supply fundamental info (just like the hours of operation) so that you don’t make the journey solely to reach as distributors are packing up for the day. Equally, when you plan to carry your canine (which usually isn’t an important concept, until it’s a service animal), verify the present’s pet coverage.

When you’re on the web site, take a screenshot of the map of the occasion, if one is offered. This fashion you’ll know the place the varied entrances and exits—and maybe extra importantly, the restrooms—are situated.

Not taking timing into consideration

For some flea market and vintage present attendees, it is sensible to base their arrival time on their procuring targets for the day. Should you’re on the hunt for a particular merchandise—particularly if it’s one thing that’s presently on-trend or perennially well-liked and can possible promote rapidly—getting there early provides you the perfect likelihood of snagging it.

But when your precedence is getting the deepest reductions attainable, chances are you’ll be higher off ready till the tail finish of the day, says Mel Studach, affiliate editor at AD PRO and a frequent flea market shopper, who additionally sells her classic finds via her on-line store, The Collected Items. “A few of my finest offers have come from procuring gross sales which might be close to closing time, when the vendor is able to lighten their masses earlier than it’s time to pack up,” she notes.

On the identical time, each flea market and vintage present is completely different, and Jon says that there aren’t any hard-and-fast guidelines about the perfect and worst instances to buy. “Go when it’s handy for you,” he advises.

Assuming you’ll be capable of carry all of your purchases

Not like large field shops and supermarkets, flea markets and vintage exhibits usually don’t present clients with free carts or baskets to assist tote round their purchases as they store. That’s why Kenneth Henry and Dee Leger—cohosts of the Antiques Freaks podcast, who, between them, have a number of a long time of expertise within the antiques business—advocate bringing a folding wagon, cart with wheels, or perhaps a backpack to make your procuring expertise simpler.

“I feel lots of people underestimate the bodily toll that strolling round these big exhibits will tackle their physique,” Kenneth explains. “Even when you solely plan on shopping for smaller objects, you’re nonetheless going to be carrying them round for some time.” He additionally stresses the significance of paying consideration whereas sporting a backpack or rolling a cart round. “You don’t wish to run over anybody’s foot or a Victorian desk or take a fast flip that finally ends up smashing a show of teacups,” he provides.

You may additionally wish to carry just a few disposable plastic baggage, items of newspaper, or different packing supplies so you possibly can wrap up any fragile (or soiled) objects earlier than placing them in with the remainder of your haul. In some circumstances, distributors might have these provides available, nevertheless it’s commonplace for them to expire.

Coming with out water and snacks

Whereas many flea markets have meals distributors, when you’re planning on placing in a full day of procuring, you’re higher off coming ready with a refillable water bottle (most have free water fountains) and snacks to maintain you. You’ll keep away from lengthy strains, distributors promoting out, and any conditions the place you’re actually hungry or thirsty and nowhere close to the meals stations.

“Bigger vintage exhibits and markets may be daunting while you notice you’re teetering on being hangry,” Neko provides. “Having water and a few protein available helps me take a second to floor myself fairly than get overwhelmed and threat getting sensory overload from low blood sugar.”

Photograph: Lisa Maughmer/Springfield Vintage Present & Flea Market

The Springfield Vintage Present and Flea Market is thought for its astounding array of vintage and classic furnishings, like these American Empire country-style paint-decorated chairs (ca. 1840—1870), and this institutional work desk (repurposed as a eating desk).

While you arrive

These are just a few frequent errors to keep away from after you’ve made your manner via the gates and into the flea market:

Anticipating an expertise like those you’ve seen on TV

In case your solely flea market expertise comes from watching TV exhibits like Flea Market Flip and Market Warriors, you’re in all probability in for a impolite awakening the primary time you attend one in individual. “The TV exhibits that exist are good for the enterprise and good for people who find themselves from an publicity and schooling standpoint, however they’re not primarily based in actuality,” Jon says. “There are components of reality, however, on the finish of the day, they’re making tv exhibits, so the typical individual’s expertise in search of issues at a market goes to look utterly completely different.”

For instance, individuals watching Flea Market Flip might assume that the kind of haggling seen on the present—the place a contestant convinces a vendor to simply accept $15 for an merchandise marked $100—is the norm, when in reality, it’s the uncommon exception. “And the sensationalism of these exceptions dominate the best way that the enterprise is portrayed,” Jon provides.

Going and not using a aim

One flea market mistake that Neko admits to creating herself goes in and not using a recreation plan. “Should you’re purchasing for one thing particular, understand how a lot you wish to spend and what compromises you’ll make by way of high quality and value, then follow that,” she advises. “Budgeting prematurely will allow you to keep on observe.”

Having a singular focus

On the identical time, whereas getting in with a mission may be useful, Jon stresses the significance of approaching a flea market or vintage present with an open thoughts. “Should you go in with the preconceived notion that you simply’re solely going to purchase a set of chairs or solely need a cool classic T-shirt, it’s so limiting, as a result of the entire level of the present is that you simply don’t know what you’re going to see and have the opportunity of falling in love with one thing that you simply in all probability didn’t know existed,” he says.

Getting the perfect value

Like different procuring venues, the costs at flea markets and vintage exhibits can differ enormously relying on elements like their geographic location, clientele, and the merchandise they promote. As an example, don’t assume that each one flea market costs are nice offers, or that, as a result of your native vintage retailer is prohibitively costly, all the pieces at an vintage present goes to be out of your value vary as properly. Listed here are another errors to keep away from when trying to attain the perfect offers—together with what to not do when haggling.

Being impolite

Typically individuals who aren’t comfy or lack expertise haggling might resort to aggressive and offensive negotiating techniques, not not like these related to used automobile dealerships. That is 100% the fallacious transfer to make. “There’s a sure type of haggling that works at flea markets and vintage exhibits, and it’s not kicking the tires,” Kenneth provides.

To be clear, the act of haggling itself isn’t impolite. Jon clarifies that “it’s a part of the enterprise, nevertheless it needs to be finished respectfully.” In truth, Dee factors out that many sellers set their costs for flea markets and vintage exhibits with the understanding that haggling will happen, noting that the apply is ​​“an agreed-upon and mutually satisfying recreation.”

So what, precisely, does well mannered haggling seem like? When unsure, Jon says that merely asking how a lot an merchandise prices is an effective technique to get the ball rolling. Should you’re actually severe about it, he suggests following that up with, “What’s your finest value?”

An alternative choice is approaching a vendor with the merchandise you’re fascinated by and asking, “Would you be insulted if I made you a suggestion?” In accordance with Jon, if they are saying that the worth is agency, then that’s it, and also you shouldn’t push it. “If they are saying [that they’re open to offers], you possibly can go forward and make them a suggestion whereas nonetheless being well mannered and respectful,” he says.

This brings up one other big mistake that Jon has ceaselessly witnessed at flea markets and vintage exhibits. “Should you make a suggestion, and the seller accepts it, you should be ready to purchase the merchandise,” he says. “Don’t speak them all the way down to a value after which say that you need to give it some thought. It will be like asking anyone out on a date, they are saying sure, and then you definately saying, ‘Properly, let me get again to you on that.’”

Harassing a vendor for a cheaper price

Some persons are so satisfied that they’ll—and, for some cause, are entitled to—get an merchandise at a deep low cost, that they preserve attempting to push the vendor to cut back the worth even when they’ve already stated that they’ll’t go any decrease. Along with being annoying, it additionally takes up the seller’s time, and, doubtlessly, their likelihood to make different gross sales.

“One of the simplest ways to really play hardball is to simply go away,” Dee says. “If the seller has already given you their finest value, you possibly can say, ‘Properly, I can’t try this,’ which is a well mannered technique to say ‘Your merchandise is nice, however I can’t pay that.’ In the event that they’re keen to go decrease, they’ll let you realize.” In any other case, transfer on.

Making an offensively low supply

One of many quickest methods to get on a vendor’s unhealthy aspect is to make them a suggestion that’s so low, it’s offensive. “You’ve received to respect the truth that these individuals have put in numerous time and power and energy,” Jon emphasizes. “Merchandise isn’t free.”

As a basic rule, by no means supply lower than half the worth of an merchandise. “Should you’re providing half, you’re already treading on very shaky territory,” Dee says. “While you go decrease than that, that’s actually insulting.” When making a suggestion, Neko urges customers to contemplate the period of time and ability it takes to supply a high-quality classic merchandise. (Along with the numerous hours flea market distributors put in “to scrub it, value it, pack it up, arrange at a sales space, after which take it down” on the finish of the day.)

“Scoffing at a value or chatting with a good friend loudly sufficient for the seller to listen to isn’t going to get you the worth you [want],” she says. “For lots of us, that is our livelihood, and we’ve spent years honing the ability.” Should you’d wish to ask a vendor for a reduction, Neko suggests that you simply “begin with how a lot you recognize the piece, after which go from there.”

Stating an merchandise’s flaws

One other haggling mistake that, in accordance with Kenneth and Dee, is each offensive and much too frequent, is mentioning what you suppose is fallacious with a bit of a vendor’s merchandise when attempting to persuade them to present it to you for a reduced value.

“While you try this, it’s in a bizarre manner determined, since you’re gifting away that each one you’re attempting to do is drive down the worth of one thing that they’ve already thought-about the standard of,” Dee says. And, as Kenneth factors out, sellers usually put numerous thought into hand-selecting their merchandise. “They’re in all probability objects that they care deeply about and wish to move on to the proper individual,” he says. “So telling all of them the explanations you suppose their piece sucks gained’t essentially assist.”

As a result of antiques and classic objects are virtually all the time used items, it’s additionally unrealistic to anticipate that they’d be out there at an affordable value in pristine situation. “There are going to be scratches and chips,” Kenneth provides. “While you purchase an vintage, you realize that you simply’re getting one thing that’s been round for some time.”

The one exception is when you suppose you see some sort of harm or flaw—like a crack in a plate—and don’t imagine that it’s mirrored in an merchandise’s value. “A well mannered technique to carry that up is to ask, ‘Are you conscious of this crack?’ If they’re, they’ll often clarify what it’s that makes the piece helpful, like if it got here from a sure maker or has a uncommon sample,” Dee explains. “In the event that they weren’t conscious, which does occur, [because] even the perfect sellers can miss issues, then they may decrease the worth for you.”

Coming with out smaller payments (or money generally)

There are additionally just a few haggling-specific the reason why it is best to carry money to a flea market or vintage present. First, as a result of distributors usually should pay a processing price on any bank card gross sales, you might have higher luck negotiating the worth on an merchandise when you make it clear that you simply’re going to pay in money, Dee notes. Equally, by paying in money, chances are you’ll be serving to out a vendor who is brief on change—particularly when you ask whether or not they might use some smaller payments. “Within the present financial local weather, change is enormously appreciated,” Dee tells Intelligent. “Smaller payments may be fairly arduous to return by now.”

Each Kenneth and Dee advocate bringing numerous one-dollar payments with you to a flea market or vintage present. One cause for this, which they defined in a 2018 episode of their podcast about haggling, is that when you speak a vendor all the way down to $3 on a $5 merchandise—telling them that you simply solely have $3 left—after which pay with a $20 invoice, the vendor will discover, and doubtless be much less more likely to work with you on costs when you store with them once more.

Shopping for a number of objects from the identical vendor with out “bundling”

Should you’re going to attempt to haggle with a vendor, Mel says that it will probably assist to group a number of objects collectively and ask what they’d be keen to do for the set—a way sometimes called bundling. This can be a tactic she recommends at flea markets and vintage exhibits, in addition to property gross sales, the place the much less product the sellers should cope with on the finish of the day, the higher. “If I’m on the sale with a good friend, I’ll additionally often put our objects collectively as one buy in hopes of getting a bigger low cost that we are able to then divide amongst our objects,” she explains.

After all, not all distributors supply reductions on a number of objects, so it’s higher to ask than to imagine that they do. A easy “Do you bundle objects?” often works, or you would go the flattery route by saying one thing like, “You’ve got such wonderful stuff and I’m having bother narrowing down my purchases. If I purchase a number of objects, would you be open to negotiating the whole value?”

Photograph: Lisa Maughmer/Springfield Vintage Present & Flea Market

Objects on show on the Springfield Vintage Present and Flea Market, together with a metallic sugar canister, forged iron rooster, copper boiler, and several other items of architectural salvage. Along with the seven common exhibits of the season, the Springfield Vintage Present and Flea Market hosts two “Extravaganza” weekends annually that includes greater than 2,000 distributors, and usually drawing roughly 20,000 customers over the course of the three-day occasion.

Earlier than you permit

And at last, listed here are some examples of errors to keep away from at flea markets and vintage exhibits earlier than calling it a day:

Leaving one thing you like (and may afford) behind

Anybody who frequents flea markets and vintage exhibits in all probability has a narrative in regards to the “one which received away”—a one-of-a-kind merchandise that they opted to not purchase, solely to remorse it later. “Should you’re nonetheless fascinated about an merchandise you handed just a few cubicles in the past, simply purchase it,” Neko says. “Nothing haunts you just like the classic [goods] you permit behind.”

Should you’re on the fence about one thing, Neko recommends getting the seller’s contact info. “I attempt to supply customers an opportunity to DM me in the event that they’re nonetheless pondering of an merchandise they’ve left behind, however there’s no assure that it gained’t promote by the top of the day,” she provides.

Assuming distributors will ship giant objects

Not like brick-and-mortar vintage shops the place there’s an opportunity you possibly can put giant, unplanned purchases on maintain for just a few days whereas you determine learn how to get it house, that is very hardly ever an possibility at flea markets and vintage exhibits. “Should you purchase one thing giant, have the technique of taking it with you that day,” Dee warns. “At flea markets and different out of doors exhibits, individuals, for essentially the most half, can’t maintain or transport your objects. They want them gone that day.”

Leaving with out the story

A part of the attraction of classic procuring is understanding {that a} piece had a earlier life earlier than you ever picked it up. In some circumstances, if a vendor sees that you simply’re fascinated by a selected merchandise, they might supply some particulars on its backstory. In the event that they don’t, and also you’ve already dedicated to buying the piece, or are no less than severely contemplating it, it doesn’t harm to ask.

“I all the time attempt to ask the vendor the historical past of the items I’m shopping for—when and the place they originated, particulars about their maker or fabrication course of, and any recognized info in regards to the earlier homeowners,” Mel explains. “The knowledge helps perceive the worth of the piece—to not point out [that it] makes for an important story to share with friends.”

However take into account that whereas some distributors genuinely love sharing the historical past of their fastidiously curated merchandise with customers, they don’t essentially know the background of all the pieces they promote or all the time have the time to reply questions—particularly throughout busy intervals. Like some other interactions with sellers, keep in mind to be respectful of their time.

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