Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Frugal Shopping: Flea Markets

I know a lot of people that cringe at the words “Flea Market”. Flea markets are often thought of as where the “trailer trash” goes to shop, but that is so not the case. True, you will run into some interesting characters at Flea Markets. However, it is SO worth it for some of the deals you can find. I have bought everything from cheap fresh produce to a large pack of Sharpies for $3. There are some general rules you should know going in.

1. Haggle! Sellers expect you to haggle with them. They often mark the prices a little higher than what they want in anticipation of this. If the product is something cheaper than $10, ask for a dollar off. If it is something that is $50, ask them to take $40. The worst they could say is no. 

2. Shop around! Often the stall beside you will have the same thing for cheaper. Also, I have found that you get better deals outside if there are both inside and outside stalls. The people outside pay less to rent their space/ stall so they are cheaper. They are also more likely to want to sell fast and get out of there. The people inside are normally regulars. Keep in mind; if you find something rare…buy it right away. The shop around policy is for common items (razors, sharpies, sham-wow’s, etc).

3. Don’t be afraid to ask! A lot of the time items will not have prices on them. Ask! You will more than likely like what you have to hear.

4. Do not go late! A lot of the vendors will start packing up around noon. Just because the flea market is open until 5pm, does not mean vendors are there until 5pm! It is best to go first thing in the morning. The temperature is cooler; there is fresh inventory and a few less people. 

5. Expect to spend a few hours in crowded, probably hot areas. Flea markets are not for the faint hearted. Often you will walk a lot, you will sweat, and it will be crowded. Suck it up.

6. Use common sense when buying. I do not buy video games, DVD’s or CD’s unless you can test them out. If you get home and it does not work, you are out of your money. I also would not buy any appliances or electronics without contact info and a guarantee you can return it if it doesn’t work. Again, think hard before you purchase something that breaks easily.

Some cheap things to look out for:
*Fresh Produce
*Homemade Dog Treats/ Biscuits
*Anything that is on a TV infomercial
*cheap kitchen appliances
*Fishing equipment / tools

I hope my tips help! Let me know what you find at your local flea market.

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