When I arrived, Billy, a favorite vendor had something special tucked away for me. It was a pair of Italian D'oro Wheat Sheaf sconces from the early 1960s. Mint condition and newly rewired.
This pair were investment pieces guaranteed to remain popular for decades to come.
Shop alone. Vendors know you are serious if you don't have a bunch of friends in tow. Bartering is easier if the vendor doesn't feel out numbered.
Carry an expensive handbag and wear good jewelry.
Flea market vendors believe people with money don't like to part with it. In fear that they may overprice an item and have you walk away, they low ball the price up front in hopes of getting your business.
For this reason, I carry a Prada bag to flea markets.
Always glance under the table. A friend who works at Tiffany's collects antique jewelry. He found a platinum necklace tucked under a table for 50 dollars. It was appraised at $10,000. Some items get put under the table so that people don't walk off with it or to prevent damage and are pulled out only if you ask.
Take cash. Most vendors these days are set up for online purchasing via their phone but cash always talks a good talk and can get you a better deal. Cash might not get reported for tax purposes, cash has no transaction fees, and cash never gets declined by the bank. As the vendors say, "cash is king".
If the vendor won't barter, ask them to throw in additional items. Billy would not barter on the sconces so I asked him to throw in a couple of sterling pieces..I had been eyeing a beautiful roccoco sterling ladle and was able to get him to toss it in.
Go early. If there is a vendor whose items you consistently like at each market, go there first. Being their first sale of the day will get you a really good deal. Vendors are a superstitious lot and the days first sale is traditionally sold at a loss as they believe doing so brings good fortune for the rest of the weekend.
And most important,,wear comfortable shoes! No one can adequately navigate acres of flea market stalls if their feet hurt.
(photos by me)