Over the years, we’ve spent many hours scouring flea markets. And, like all collectors and dealers, we're inspired by the hunt. A magnetic pull entices you through alleyways of junk in the hope of spotting elusive treasures that no one else sees or falls in love with.
So whether you’re in the puce in Paris or your local weekend market, give these flea-market tips a try when perusing the stalls of dealers & sellers.
Tip No. 1 | Take time to get your ‘flea-market’ eyes on.
Time is your best friend at a market; slow down and enjoy the search. Even when not working, I love spending a morning wandering through markets and garage sales - especially with a girlfriend in tow. My favourite flea-market companion is Carmen, who has an uncanny knack for finding small quirky pieces and refashions them into one-of-a-kind brooches & whimsical jewellery. For the sake of the friendship, it helps that you are both not looking for the same thing 😃
*Take a girlfriend; this way, you will be able to buy whatever you want!
Tip No.2 | Starting early is often the key...but not always
Whilst we're often up with the birds - don’t fret if you’re not an early riser. I've found some gems later in the day! This delightful collection of ceramic ladies in 1920’s bathing costumes on a rather crowded table at Port De Vanves; & an excellent 20thC table lamp at Surry Hills market... not at the crack of dawn but at quite a leisurely hour later in the morning.
Tip No. 3 | Be regular, get to know your market
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and this could not be truer for both the stallholder and the hunter. Every stall has its own unique charm and character - and if you go regularly, you will find that crazy dealer who seems to have the same taste as you. But beware, it can become an expensive hobby or habit…
Tip No.4 | Be friendly & BYO cash!
My goal is never bargain hunting at flea markets; I'm looking for beauty at a reasonable price. It could be the colour, shape or how something is made; it may be useful or useless. But if you see something that you love & it seems like a bit of a steal, have a haggle and enjoy the fun of buying it - with cash :)
Tip No.5 | Make Memories
Sometimes in your travels, you might find something you love but have yet to plan for it (like these Italian wall lights). Pieces like this can be a sweet reminder of a particular trip, a place and a time. We picked these two 1940s scissor action lights off a table of pre-loved wares in Italy and recently had them installed in our shack in Byron. They're perfect!
Tip No. 6| There are no rules in what to collect – Create your own.
When visiting clients in their homes, they'll often ask what they should do with heirlooms and hand-me-downs. Sentimental pieces they love but don’t have a place. Depending on the item--there is a chance they could be the starting point for a collection. Be it silverware, glass, ceramics, old books or even breadboards. By grouping objects together, there is an opportunity to create your own curated collection, as well as giving you a focus at your next flea-market or garage sale :)
Scouring second-hand places and flea markets is in my blood. I cannot un-see a roadside market or a garage sale sign! It has become second nature - restorative, like a familiar old friend. These days I tend to stumble upon a treasure when I least expect it (like this sweet little travel clock). So my advice is just to keep looking ... you may be surprised by what you find. And don't forget to pat the dealer's dogs 😊
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