The Best Time To Arrive at The Flea Market

Written By Steve

If you are a shopper, the best time to arrive at the flea market is before all the other shoppers show up.  This means arriving while it is still dark and the sellers are unloading and setting up their displays.  After all, the sage advice is correct:  “The early bird gets the worm.”  Unfortunately, no matter how early you arrive, others are already there shopping.  Often the shoppers before you are actually sellers hoping to snag a bargain or two from fellow sellers.

Here’s a tip, be respectful when approaching a seller who’s in the process of unloading the vehicle and placing boxes in the selling space or putting items on the table.  Don’t rush into the space and begin picking up items.  Pause and stare for a bit.  This hesitation gives the seller sufficient time to comment.  He or she will either invite you in to look around or tell you that they aren’t ready to sell as yet.  If you see an item you might want to buy, it’s okay to inquire about this item.  Often time this breaks the ice and puts you in good standing with the seller.  Never, ever, irritate a seller.  It ruins your bargaining position later in the morning.

Also be aware of the different categories of early buyers and where you fit in.  Early buyers consist of rabid collectors, other flea market sellers, online eBay and etsy sellers looking for bargains, people looking for special gifts for others, the occasional shopper currently involved in remodeling a home or office, and the early risers out for a stroll.  What differentiates these different buyers is the amount they are willing to spend on any item and their hunger for inventory.  It often makes sense to befriend these other early buyers as in the future you’ll find these people tend to help each other spotting items you are interested in buying.  This is why it is important to always have your cell phone with you and turned on.

Bring lots of cash and plenty of smaller bills.  There’s little more aggravating than wanting to buy the $15 vintage toy car and pulling out the crisp $100 bill to pay for it.  This is rude!

Just remember that most sellers have a love/hate relationship with you early-bird shoppers.  They hate being pestered while setting up yet they are there to sell.  So the more early sales they make, the better.  Just be careful about bargaining so early in the morning.  If you spot that rare Van Briggle vase marked $35, think long and hard before asking for a lower price or offering $25.  It’s still dark — they know it must be a good item or you wouldn’t be there in the dark trying to buy it before others get to it.  One of the prices you pay for shopping in the dark is paying higher prices.  Get used to it.

Also, bring a bright flashlight, your own wrapping paper, and a big cloth bag to carry your early-morning treasures.  Be prepared.

Finally, if there is a fee for entering the flea market and you didn’t pay when you arrived because the pay table was not set-up as yet, make sure you stop by the pay table when it is being manned and pay the fee.  They’ll appreciate it and it’s the right thing to do.  Remember, they could always crack-down on early shoppers and you’d be out of luck in the future.

Forget the stupid advice from people like Martha Stewart who’ll advise you to arrive just before closing to get the absolute best buys.  This is dumb advice.  Arriving late means you get the items that didn’t sell all day.  They are either over-priced or items not in demand.

Serious flea market shoppers arrive early, with plenty of cash, a flashlight, a friendly, positive attitude, and a willingness to pay the asking price.




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