Shopping at a good flea market is a blast. You can get some really amazing deals. But there are a few things that are not a smart purchase at a flea market, no matter how much you may need it. Many things are great bought from a flea market. Let’s start with some of the things that are good to buy at a flea market if the price is right.
Now this is not an all-inclusive list. It’s only ten really great things to look for when you go to the flea market next.
1. Furniture – You can find some already refurbished completed pieces at a flea market, but where you’re going to get your real bargain is with something that needs a little TLC. Be careful, though. Look for furniture that is solid wood, as opposed to particle board and make sure you can fix it up with a little effort and paint and sanding.
2. Tools – Power tools and hand tools.
3. Bikes – Old vintage bikes might not be able to be salvaged as a bike again, but you can use the parts to create something really unique.
4. Home decor – Picture frames, glasses, bowls, or a table cloth. This isn’t a bad place to get a bargain on some pretty unique and possibly even antique items.
5. Books – You really never know what hidden treasures you might find amongst books. A first edition copy of A Tale of Two Cities, perhaps? Who knows, but don’t pass up looking through books.
6. Media – Really any sort of media, whether it’s old records or 8-track tapes. Make sure you check it out first, though.
7. Sports equipment – Even exercise equipment. Buying this stuff brand new can cost a fortune, so if your kid is interested in tee ball, then check out the local flea market or some tag sales to see what you can find.
8. Clothes – Vintage is in and if you’re looking for some vintage style clothing that’s the real deal, then this is a great place to find what you’re looking for. Just make sure your item does not smell of smoke (because you’ll never get that smell out no matter how many times it’s laundered or dry cleaned), and wash it before you wear it.
9. Gold and jewelry – Make sure you know what you’re looking at in this category. You can get taken for a ride, but if you know how to tell if something is really gold or really silver and not just gold or silver plated, then you might have more success.
10. Toys – Be very careful in the area, though. You probably don’t want to buy toys for very young children to play with from a flea market or yard sale, especially if you think it was made earlier than the 1980s or it wasn’t made in the United States. You don’t want a child getting lead poisoning from playing with these older toys. But when it comes to collector’s items, this is a great place to find some old-fashioned toys.
Now that you know what to buy at a flea market or yard sale, here are the things you definitely do not want to buy. Some may seem very obvious to you, some maybe not so much.
Ten Things Not to Buy at a Flea Market
1. Bathing suit and underwear – Unless the underwear items are sealed in their original package and the bathing suit has tags still on it, do not buy these items at a flea market. You just never know where they’ve been.
2. Hair ties – Whether it’s a pony tail holder or a bobby pin, just buy these new. They’re not that expensive to begin with.
3. Bike helmet – Unless you don’t plan on using it for its intended purpose, you just don’t know if it has been in an accident before. Don’t risk it.
4. Car seats – Same as with bike helmets. If a car seat has been involved in a motor vehicle accident, even if it’s minor and the child wasn’t in the seat, the manufacturers recommend replacing it because they can’t guarantee that it did not sustain any cracks or damage to its shell.
5. Small kitchen appliances – With can openers, toasters, coffee makers, just buy new. These likely don’t work or don’t work well and it’s just not worth trying to repair.
6. Mattresses – This is just something you really should buy new. A used mattress could be infested with bed bugs or just simply be too worn for it to be worth the savings.
7. Tires – There are things about tires that unless you are a tire specialist, you just might not see. So again, unless you are using them for something besides their intended use, then go to a tire specialist to buy tires.
8. Cribs – Due to ever-changing regulations meant to make cribs a safe sleep space, purchasing a used crib to use with your baby could pose a danger to your child. While a vintage baby crib might be a great find, you should only buy one if you don’t intend on using it with a baby.
9. A breast pump – Yes, pumps are expensive, but the flea market is not the place you want to get one. This is a product much like underwear that you simply must buy new.
10. A toothbrush – It goes without saying why.
So there you have it – the do’s and don’ts of flea market shopping.