Aug 31, 2011

Anatomy of a flea market shopper

Hey, all! Hope you're having a fantastic week so far!

As I mentioned last week, I was hoping to make it to the flea market this weekend -- and I did! I swear, I could go every weekend and still stroll through that place for hours...the allure of finding some secret treasure and turning it into something fabulous for your house -- it's just so appealing! But my wallet keeps me from going back every weekend...'cause then I'd be broke. Which is no fun.

I'm fairly new to this whole thrifting/flea market thing, but I thought I'd share some tips for hunting for treasures -- a few things I've picked up along the way.

First up -- what to wear. If you've never been to Maine, I'm gonna let you in on a little secret: we're a pretty casual bunch. For some people in more hip urban places, a day of thrifting might mean a day on the town in a cute sundress and heels. I guess I shouldn't generalize about Maine, so let's just say that is not how I roll.

I like to wear something simple, but not schleppy -- you want people to take you seriously when you're haggling, so looking put together is important. (I feel kind of icky saying this, but looking nice can also help you get some good deals, especially if the dealer happens to be a guy! It can't hurt...). But, since I usually end up crouched on the floor, digging through dusty piles, I don't wear anything I'm too worried about getting dirty. On this particular day, I picked a simple gray V-neck tee from Banana Republic and a (not too short)! Gap denim skirt, and accessorized with some big, fun silver earrings. I like to skip anything bulky or flowy, like scarves, that might get in my way while I'm browsing.

Full disclosure: It was super muggy on Saturday, and the place isn't air conditioned, so I ended up losing the tee and just wearing the black tank I had on underneath and pulling my hair back.

I've thrifted in heels, and after an hour or two, it's no fun, and all I can think about are my aching feet! I love these metallic flip-flops, also from Gap -- they add a little glam, but they're comfy too.

As for my purse, I try to go small, so I don't have to worry about it banging around and knocking stuff over. Bonus points if you can find something that's cute AND has a strap that you can wear across your body, so you don't have to constantly try and keep it on your shoulder. This brown purse is from Maurice's.

What's in the cutie purse, you ask? Here's what I always like to bring:

A list of what I'm looking for. I don't always stick to it, but it helps focus me and keep me from coming home with a bunch of stuff I don't need or want.

A notepad -- either to keep a list of things you want to look for, or a place to write down a dealer's contact information if you want to get in touch later, or even something you see and want to remember to circle back for. I like this one from Wellspring.

A tape measure, especially if you're looking for something to fit in a specific spot.

I always bring a snack, because sometimes I just get so caught up thrifting that I can't tear myself away for food, and I'm super cranky when my blood sugar gets low. The Quaker Oats guy is optional.

Cash. It's best to have a variety of bill sizes, because nothing irks a dealer more than you haggling the price down from $20 to $10 and then asking for change (trust me!). It goes without saying that you shouldn't bring more than you actually want to spend, because, well, if you're anything like me, you'd spend it all. :)

And, of course, I always bring a camera, so I can snap photos of things I like and may want to buy before I leave. If a dealer looks a little uncomfortable with you taking photos, be polite and ask if it's okay.

So, now for the really exciting part -- what I came home with!

Per my list, I brought home three glass bottles. The two clear ones I plan to fill with sand from our various beach trips this summer, and the big green one was just too cool to pass up. The two little ones were $5 for the pair, and the big green one was $2. They all need a good cleaning.

Wondering where our shed window boxes are? We had already brought them inside in preparation of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene when I took this photo, and we laid our birch arbor down too to keep it from blowing over in the wind and getting damaged.

And, an impulse buy -- this apple barrel that the dealer bought from an orchard. I love how it still says Cortland! It was $10, and I'm thinking it'll look great on our porch with some fall-themed decor. I was thinking about building it a top and then stacking gourds and pumpkins on it. Anyone have any other ideas?

I picked up something else, but I'm keeping it a secret for now. :)

Find anything good at a flea market or thrift store lately? Got any tips on thrifting to share -- I'd love to hear them!

Linking up to Home Stories A 2 Z's Tutorials and Tips Tuesday!

Check out my first round-up of flea market finds here!


Kelley said...

I love that big green bottle....cute! I think we are lucky to have the indoor flea market so close to us....its a nice way to spend a few weekend hours! We should do a girls trip there soon ... I wanna redo the family room and needs some inspiration!

Mindy @ Heart Maine Home said...

Thank you! I will definitely go again!

Stephanie said...

Hi Mindy! Thanks so much for stopping by! I LOVE the apple barrel you found! That really will look so cute decorate with fall...I'm going to search craigslist for one now! Thanks for the inspiration!