Flea Market Shopping 101

With money being tight, a flea market can be an excellent place to search for items you need. If you've never been to a flea market, you don't know what you're missing. There are so many treasures to be found! Don't let the rows and rows of tables intimidate you! You'll surely find some great deals but it does require a little effort and planning before you head out the door in search of treasure. Read on for some tips on how to shop at a flea market.

1) Do your homework. Find the right flea market depending on what you're looking for. Are you wanting to spruce up your living room on the cheap? Looking for kids clothes? Trying to find collectibles to resell? Sometimes different flea markets offer different items. Some have collectibles and antiques others offer newer items, clothing, electronics and whatnot, and then there are the ones that have a combination. Do an online search of "flea market and your state", ask friends and family and check local newspapers for flea market listings. There are also a lot of groups on Facebook for local yard sales and flea markets in your area. If you don't know how to get to a location, be sure to print out driving directions online.

2) Dress properly and be prepared for any kind of weather. Wear comfortable clothes. Jeans or shorts and a t-shirt will do nicely but make sure you have pockets for your cash. Comfortable shoes are a must as you'll be on your feet for long periods of time. If there's a chance of rain bring a raincoat with hood and if it's cooler bring a jacket. Leave the purse and umbrella behind because flea marketing is a hands on sport. Sunblock is very important as well so make sure you apply it and keep some in the car. Having a pair of sunglasses isn't a bad idea either.

3) Eat before going because flea market food is usually expensive, greasy and may give you the runs (sorry, it's true). Porta-potties aren't so great at flea markets either and some flea markets have no restrooms at all. You might want to pack a lunch because some flea markets have no concessions. Pack your cooler with sandwiches and drinks then leave it in your car. Consider a canteen style drinking container that attaches to your jeans or belt so your hands will be free to dig for treasures.

4) Arrive early if you're worried you'll miss out on the good stuff. It is common sense that being first in line will give you first pick at items. Don't discount arriving later in the day though. Many times you'll get a better deal toward the end of the day. A lot of sellers would rather let something go for cheap than pack it back up and lug it away.

5) Cash is king. Carry plenty of cash in all denominations. Most vendors won't accept personal checks or credit cards. Get a receipt when you buy a high ticket item to help you keep track of money spent.

6) Be careful who you take with you. You'll want as little distraction while you're bargain hunting as possible so if you do take someone, make sure they'll leave you alone and let you "snoop".

7) Learn to haggle. Don't be afraid to offer less for an item. Most flea market vendors expect it and usually mark items up just a bit for that reason. If something is already priced fairly, don't ask for too much off because it's insulting to the seller. Consider buying more than one item from a vendor and they will be more likely give you a discount. Don't feel bad about walking away if they won't deal with you. It's all part of playing the game.

8) Don't buy something just because it's cheap. Make sure you actually have a use for an item before handing over the cash. It's a shame to waste money on something that will end up in the attic or on a shelf at Goodwill. Ask yourself "Who will use this or where will it go?" If you can't answer, don't purchase.

9) Know what you're looking for and research it. If you're buying antiques and collectibles, have some idea of the value and condition. Consider making yourself a cheat sheet as a quick reference about the items you seek. I like to carry a running list of things that I want and need so I can keep my eyes open for those items.

10) If you're shopping to resell,use your cell phone to check completed listings on eBay.

11) Take a tape measure if you'll be buying clothing or trying to find a piece of furniture to fit in a specific space. Speaking of furniture, make sure you have a way to transport any larger pieces you may find.

What are your flea market shopping tips? Do you have any awesome finds to share? Tell us! =)

Disappointed in my fellow man

I went shopping today with my hubby and two youngest children. We saw my mother parked outside a local thrift shop and decided to stop and say hi. Inside the store, my husband sat our youngest inside a cart so I placed my purse inside the basket like I always do. I got distracted talking to my mother and chasing after my 2 year old daughter and when I looked up, hubby had taken my son out of the cart and was ready to leave. We were heading into the next store when I realized I didn't have my purse. At that point, I couldn't remember if I had left it inside the van or inside the thrift. My mom went to check the van and I went back into the thrift store. I checked where the carts were but the purse wasn't there. I saw an empty cart on the other side of the store and THERE was my purse. Phheewww! Was I relieved!

I went on over to the store next door where my hubby was waiting. As we got to the back of the store, I told him about how I thought he'd put the cart back with the others. He said he did. I then told him how I found the cart on the other side of the store. He insisted he put it back with the other carts so I thought I'd better check my wallet. Reaching into my purse I immediately noticed my wallet was upside down and hadn't been snapped. I knew something was up. My money was gone. My credit cards, cell phone and all were still there but all my cash was gone from the center of my wallet. In less than 5 minutes, someone came into the store, got the cart, saw that my purse was there, dug into my wallet and took my money, leaving my purse inside the cart. They even zipped my purse back up. How nice of them.

Now, I have to let you in on the ironic part. This person who stole my money made a huge mistake. They only took the ten dollars in ones I had in the center of my wallet. I had a 100 dollar bill rolled up inside the zippered compartment in back and it hadn't been touched. How sad for them that on the day they decided to steal something, they did a poor job of it. Not to mention, they were stealing money inside a Christian based thrift store. No wonder they did it in such a hurry, they probably 'felt' God watching them! I just tell myself they must have needed that money more than I do. I also believe in karma so I'm sure it will come back around to them. I'm just thankful they only got $10 and left my cell and cards alone.