One of my favorite things happened this past weekend…the Rosebowl Flea Market. Every second Sunday of the month, Los Angeles vintage lovers head to Pasadena for this day full of scouting for treasures! I usually go every month and find it to be so inspirational and fun! I now bring my oldest daughter, Ruby, and it’s fun to show her all the cool things out there that still have lots of life left in them. Today, I’m answering some of the most common questions you guys have asked me when I go to the flea market…
1. How do you find cool things? I realized a couple years ago that the key to having success at a flea market is not to go looking for something very specific. If you want something specific, just go to the mall instead. And if you absolutely need something specific, chances are you won’t find it. But if you are flexible, you won’t be disappointed. For example, I generally go looking for vintage clothes. But I am not looking for any specific type of piece. I just look for things that I think are original, would fit me, and are worth the price. I see vintage shopping as building a collection, and that happens over time…not all at once.
2. Do you bargain with vendors? Yes! I always ask for a lower price than what is listed. Pretty much everyone will lower their price by at least five dollars so it can’t hurt to ask. Especially if you are buying a few things from one vendor, they will almost always give you a discount.
3. How much do you spend? The vendors at this flea market run the gamut from professional vintage collectors and shops who know what things are worth (and will charge for that) to people looking to just sell their old stuff and want to sell for cheap. So how much I will spend on something really ranges. I have bought little things for $1, and I have also bought high-quality vintage clothing for $200. Mostly, I try not to average more than $20-50 on one piece.
4. How do you know what to say yes to and what to say no to? Just like everything else in my life, I just go with my gut. Most of the time that works. If I feel like the quality matches the price, I might spend a little more. Or, even if something is low in price but it’s way too big or would need too much fixing to work, then I won’t get it. For example, I loved this orange caftan above, but I never wear that shade of orange and knew it wasn’t the best color on me. And, that yellow jacket was EPIC—but too big and boxy on me, and that material is really hard to have altered with so much detail. I have certainly had pieces I regretted not getting. But I also realize that it’s just an object. Life will go on even if I let a good vintage go every once in a while.
5. What’s your strategy for shopping at the flea market? I always go to whatever section I am most interested in first. Sometimes I am there to look for props and home decor for a photo shoot, and sometimes I’m more focused on vintage clothing. So, I try to hit my focus area first. Then, if I have time, I look in other sections, too. We normally get there between 8-9am. The real vintage shoppers get there at like 6am, but there is no way I could get myself together to get there that early!
6. What is a good age to bring kids? I started bringing Ruby two years ago when she was 4 and a half (see photo from two years ago and then from yesterday above!). The flea market involves A LOT of walking. So it’s not fun to bring kids who are too little to walk (babies in carriers and strollers are fine if they are chill babies who are content hanging out). Otherwise, I would not bring kids from ages 1-4. I always give Ruby the option to come with me or stay home with her sister and dad, and she always chooses to come with me. I will give her a small allowance that she can spend (between $5-10). She is responsible for keeping the money in her purse, asking the vendor how much something is, and paying them with her money. She knows simple addition now, but when she was younger, it was a good way to have her understand addition in a physical way. Also, it showed her that when she has spent the allotted amount, there was no more money left so she has to think about what she wants to spend the money not knowing if she’ll find something else she likes better.
I hope that was helpful! If you have any other questions, please ask me in comments below!
P.S. If you’re looking for any other vintage tips, here’s when we Dressed the Team in vintage, how to alter vintage, a recent fun vintage find, and shopping online for vintage if you don’t have a lot of options near you!