9 Flea Markets You Must Visit Before You Die
Put on your walking shoes and stop in at America's premier marketplaces -- you'll find country primitives, midcentury modern furniture, vintage fashions, upcycled treasures, and more. Here are a few insider tips for wending your way through each market.
Location: Brooklyn, New York; Saturday markets at Fort Greene, Sunday markets in Williamsburg
When to go: April to October. The market will move indoors in November at a location to be determined.
What to look for: Search beyond the finer antiques to find one-of-a-kind artisan pieces, such as contemporary stools and farm tables fashioned from reclaimed wood, retro clogs made by fifth-generation shoemakers, and succulent gardens planted in salvaged bricks and 1940s pottery.
Shop like a local: On Saturdays, grab a seat on the park stairs behind food-vendor booths to people-watch and snack on an array of tasty ethnic dishes. Plan a visit to the Williamsburg market on a Sunday when a free concert is scheduled.
Randolph Street Market
Location: Chicago, Illinois; Beaux Arts Plumbers Hall, 1340 W. Washington Street
When to go: One weekend each month, year-round.
What to look for: Vintage buttons, mirrors salvaged from grand hotels, and antique garden furniture are just a few examples of what you'll find from the 300-plus dealers at this market. Be sure to make time to take in a special DIY event, the beer garden, and complimentary appraisal services.
Shop like a local: During the summer markets, arrive at 8 a.m. and pay $25 early admission to get first dibs on the coolest stuff. Check the market's website for info about free trolleys that take shoppers from Chicago's Loop and Mag Mile to the market.
Lincoln Road Outdoor Antique and Collectible Market
Location: Miami Beach, Florida; Lincoln Road Mall
When to go: October to May, a few Sundays each month
What to look for: Midcentury design first bloomed in nearby South Beach, so keep your eye out for retro Danish Modern and Art Deco furnishings. Look for kitschy assets culled from Miami's high-society homes; vendors offer loads of memorabilia, bar ware, and couture fashions from the 1900s to the 1960s.
Shop like a local: Since Miami Beach is a laid-back town, crowds don't start shopping this street-side market until mid-to-late morning. For the best selection and plenty of elbow room, hit market tents when they open at 8 a.m.
Mile High Flea Market
Location: Henderson, Colorado; 7007 E 88th Ave.
When to go: Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays year-round
What to look for: Shop for treasures such as polished antiques, upcycled furniture, and handcrafted items. Stop by temporary garage sale spaces to browse for all sorts of fun and functional goods.
Shop like a local: Be an early bird! Arrive between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. to find tunique items. Schedule at least four hours to roam the market's 26-acre span.
Springfield Ohio Auction and Flea Market
Location: Springfield, Ohio; Clark County Fairgrounds
When to go: March to December, usually the third weekend of the month
What to look for: Regarded as a premier buying show, the market offers highly desirable Western-Expansion-era pieces at affordable prices. It is one of the first tiers in the antiques-buying chain, supplying furnishings and collectibles pulled from local barns and century-old homes.
Shop like a local: Wander over to the Vintage Marketplace for repurposed wares arranged in gallery-like settings. Like to shop a lot? Attend a May or September "Extravaganza" when more than 2,000 vendors gather.
Shipshewana Auction and Flea Market
Location: Shipshewana, Indiana; 325 S Van Buren St
When to go: May to October
What to look for: You're in Amish country, so keep your eyes open for handcrafted furniture as you make your way through the booths of 900 vendors.
Shop like a local: Expand your buying reach by attending Wednesday auctions, where up to 10 auctioneers sell miscellaneous items and antiques, and shopping at the antique mall across the street from the flea market.
Round Top Antiques Show
Location: Multiple towns around Round Top, Texas
When to go: Late March to early April and September to October
What to look for: This market supplies something that appeals to every collector. Americana antiquities and Western gear are plentiful, but you'll also find hip industrial-era relics and international dealers selling vintage French, Asian, and English furnishings.
Shop like a local: The Original Round Top Antiques Fair that started at the Big Red Barn 40-some years ago sparked the show's expansion. Today, thousands of dealers set up at 60 selling sites within a 9-mile radius of Round Top. Before you head out, check www.roundtop.org for a list of show sites, schedules, and maps. Check the website of each selling site to get an idea of who is selling so you can optimize your shopping time.
Rose Bowl Flea Market
Location: Pasadena, California
When to go: January to December, second Sunday of every month
What to look for: The show hosts more than 3,500 vendors in five different selling areas, so don't waste time perusing the new stuff. Keep your eye out for Hollywood celebrities as you head to the antiques and collectibles, vintage clothing, and arts-and-crafts areas to hunt for unique finds.
Shop like a local: Bring plenty of money! Dealers will bargain when cash is on the table; dealers are also likely to offer better discounts at the end of the selling day.
Brimfield Antiques and Collectibles Show
Location: Brimfield, Massachusetts
When to go: 6-day markets are held in May, July, and September
What to look for: Between 4,000 and 6,000 vendors set up at 21 independently operated shows (fields) along a one-mile stretch of Route 20. You'll find a wealth of antiques, vintage oddities, and collectibles from around the world. Country decorators flock to the market for the Early-American primitives and period farmyard trappings.
Shop like a local: Show or field opening times are staggered during the first few days of the market. Check out the show schedule so you can be first in line as shows open, which is when you'll find the largest selection of items. Respectful bargaining and cash will get you the best deals.