If you want to be taken seriously by a vendor whose wares you covet, don’t act like a tourist.
Even if you are actually shopping a foreign “flea”.
Arrive early in the morning, when the market opens, just as the professionals do. This signals the seller you’re a player and your offer comes with intention to buy. The other advantage of early morning shopping is that you will avoid the crowds of the afternoon. Then again, if you aren’t on the lookout for anything in particular and really are just a tourist, there is something to be said for arriving late in the day when oftentimes, the best buys of the remaining stock can be had at a greater discount because the vendor doesn’t want to pack them up to take back to storage.
A Good Scout Is Always Prepared:
- Food – No one shops well when hungry and you can’t count on the availability or quality of the fare at these markets. Packing a lunch, or at least a quantity of healthy snacks is smart. Bring liquids too, but be sure to scope out where the public facilities are located when you first arrive to avoid discomfort later.
- Cash – Bring plenty in small denominations, twenty dollars and under, with a quantity of single bills. Five-dollar bills seem to be the most versatile. Carry a lot of small change too, because vendors will appreciate a transaction that is right-to-the-penny exact. Most of these merchants won’t accept credit cards or personal checks. Don’t count on being able to return anything for a refund, but it’s still a good idea to ask for receipts for purchase of collectible items or investment pieces along with any appraisals and other information about provenance and value. If no appraisal has been written for a collectible, ask for one from a qualified vendor. There should be no extra charge for this.
- Travel Gear – Check the weather before you pack and dress for the day and don’t forget your sun block. Apply at home and bring it with you. Hats are good on sunny days to prevent over-exposure and sunburn. This is not the time to wear your wealth, or in any other way, look prosperous.
It’s a forgone conclusion that you will pay more, if you look like you can afford it.
Early morning starts can be chilly. Wear layers that can be peeled off as the day warms up. Comfy shoes are a must. You’ll be doing a lot of walking and nobody welcomes a walk with blisters.
- Travel Light – Don’t start your trek carrying more than absolutely necessary. For instance, don’t carry an umbrella if rain is likely, when wearing a squashy hat will do. A large lightweight tote bag will suffice for the smaller things and a quick trip to the car for the larger or more fragile items is a good plan. Stuff the tote with plastic bags as back-up carry-alls. You get extra “smart points” if the tote bag is brightly colored so your companion can see you from a distance should you become separated.
- Speaking of large items – if you are looking for them, plan for success and drive to the market location in a vehicle large enough for you and anything else you might find. A lightweight two-wheel cart can be very helpful too.
- Handy Wipes. Heaven-sent where washing facilities are scarce. Finger food is far less appealing when clutched with grubby “mitts”.
- Small Indispensables – Pack a tape measure and be certain of the size of your entry hall(s) and doorways.
Don’t just guess something will “probably” fit or you may find yourself reselling your new treasure immediately.
Next Time: Flea Market Shopping #3: The Art Of The Deal
(Flea Market Shopping Three Part Series)
Article Photo: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flea_market#/media/File:Paris__Vintage_travel_gear_seller_at_the_marche_Dauphine_-_5212.jpg CC BY-SA 3.0 – Vintage travel gear seller at the marche Dauphine, Paris
Large article photo: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brooklyn_Flea