I think the reason why The Little Mermaid is one of my favorite movies is because I have a lot in common with Ariel — particularly the fact that we both have an affinity for collecting
crap stuff. As a kid, my mom would take me to flea markets, antique/thrift stores, and estate sales nearly every weekend (we still go every now and then). I went through a bunch of collecting phases: Disney/DC Comics toys, poodle stuff, deer figurines, vintage compacts, costume jewelry… and so and on so forth. When I was in high school, we started a tradition of going to the Lodi Street Faire every May and October, but since I moved to Daly City 2 years ago, I’ve missed quite a few. But since I moved back, I got to go today. HUZZAH! I love seeing all the trinkets that vendors bring with them. You never know what you’re going to find — like a pipe with a pirate’s face carved into it.
I’d like to think that I’m a bit of a pro when it comes to flea markets and street faires, so here are my 10 tips for shopping at flea markets and street faires:
- Carry smaller bills (or cash in general): It helps to have single dollar bills and fives on your person. Vendors/sellers appreciate it oh-so-much when you give them exact change.
- Don’t be afraid to negotiate: My mom is a pro at negotiating! She usually asks the seller if they can knock a couple dollars off. Some are willing to offer a better price, while others are firm on how much they want. If an item is a bit busted, see if you can get it at a lower price. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
- Inspect before buying: A majority of things at flea markets and street faires are secondhand items – I don’t understand why people sell new things at those types of places, but alas. Take a good look at the merchandise – with jewelry, make sure there aren’t any stones or beads missing, if the clasp works, etc. With purses, make sure there aren’t any holes. You get the idea. If you feel that you can repair, or don’t care that an item has some flaws, and you want, go for it.
- If you’re not sure, walk away: I’ve seen so many things that I wanted, but never fell in love with on the spot. If I wasn’t sure, I’d walk away and think about it, and I’d tell myself, “If I don’t want, fine. If I do want it, I’ll get it, but if it’s not there when I get back, then it wasn’t meant to be.”
- If you are sure, BUY IT!: If you are 110% sure that you want something, go for it. If you walk away and find yourself pining for something you just saw, thinking of all the things you could do with it, and whatnot, for the love of God just get it! Y’know… if you feel that you can afford it.
- Poker Face: My mom always told me to not look too excited when I find something I REALLY like, because the seller may see how much I want what they’re selling and hike the price up. Do they really do that? I don’t know for sure, but wear that Poker Face.
- Give yourself a budget: It helps to give yourself a budget so you don’t go overboard. If you’re looking for certain things, think about how much you’re willing to spend. Be realistic.
- Be reasonable: Try and think about how you’re going to use the item you’re interested in buying. Do you need it that bad? Are you going to use it a lot? Is it going to collect dust? Is it worth that much? Is there room for it? Also, if something is set at a good price, it doesn’t mean you have to buy it. I have gone down that road one too many times, and I’m stuck with a bunch of things I don’t want or use! Buyer’s remorse is horrible.
- Have an idea of what you’re looking for: Going into the flea market without a game plan is like a gladiator stepping into the arena without a battle strategy. I like to shop with purpose. I find that it helps if you have an idea of what you want to buy. I’m always on the lookout for jewelry.
- Get there early: Even though events like street faires say they start at a certain time, it doesn’t mean you have to go right when it officially starts. Vendors have to get there early to set up. Getting there early also means you have first dibs on the merchandise, and chances of getting good deals are high. Plus, there aren’t any large crowds so you don’t have to wiggle your way in and out.
- Audrey Hepburn book: $5 (couldn’t pass it up!)
- gold ring w/orange stone: $1
- cameo pin: $5
- necklace: $26
- jacket: Don’t recall, but I got it at Ross
- top: Forever 21
- jeggings: H&M
- boots: Charles Albert
- purse: M. Rossetti