Tales of a Tract Home: Flea Market Tips & Tricks and the Search for the Perfect Coffee Table

If you follow my Instagram feed HERE, you know that I've been making several trips to my favorite antique/flea market haunts. Sometimes I go because I have something specific in mind. And other times, I browse to feel inspired. Today I wanted to share some of my tips and tricks for shopping these awesome places.

1. Go Prepared. Take a list of items you hope to find. Keep your budget in mind. Take a notebook, camera, calculator, and a tape measure with you. And of course, wear comfortable (or cute) shoes. Bring along some bottled water, sunglasses, and sunscreen if any portion of your trip is out of doors. I would also suggest some hand sanitizer as many of the items you will be handling are older and often dirty and dusty. And don't forget cash if the event or store you are dealing with, doesn't accept credit or debit cards.

2. Stick to the Plan. It is so completely easy to get distracted when shopping in an Antique Store or at a Flea Market. But don't forget that you came with a plan. My plan for this trip was to find the perfect coffee table for my new living room (see my new Living Room blog post HERE). I only had $50 that I wanted to spend. I knew that amount would be a tough budget to meet; but I also wanted to see what I could find at that price point. I like a good challenge.

3. Know When to Avoid or Embrace Distractions. Sometimes you will find the perfect item while shopping for something else. If it's in the budget, get it NOW. Often those items won't be there the next time you go. If it triggers the "I MUST have it" response, then get it if you can. If it triggers the "Ooooh, that's kind of cool" response, then you might want to let it go. Learn to listen to your inner junking voice so you don't miss out on something special or bring home something you later regret. Keep a running list of items you're interested in so each time you go, you know exactly what you've been looking for.

Here are a few items that distracted me on this trip that didn't make it home with me but that I loved:

And here is one item that did make it home with me, even though it wasn't in the plan.

Ruler ($15)

4. Once, Twice, and Once Again. Plan to walk through the store or event at least two times if not three. If there's a big crowd, then you may have to purchase something from a vendor now or work something out to have them hold it for you for a certain amount of time. You have learn how each event or store works when it comes to holding items. You have to walk these places multiple times because while some vendors set up lovely booths like this where everything is easy to spot:

Other vendors have booths which include many things and that will require some digging:

Neither booth set-up style is wrong. You just have to learn to take the time to search for what you want.

5. Learn Standard Pricing. It takes a bit to get a feel for a good deal, and a rip off. Avoid sellers that either don't know the going price for items, or who seem to price higher all the time. Many vendors will negotiate pricing, while others stand firm. Be polite and ask what the vendor is willing to do, and then thank them either way.

Initially I wanted this beautiful aqua table for my coffee table, but the $200 price tag put it way outside of my budget. It felt a little high to me, and so I had to pass it up.

6. Keep an Open Mind. While I knew I wanted something to serve as a coffee table, I also knew that I didn't want a traditional coffee table. Flea Market shopping is creativity at its best. I looked for crates, tables, boxes, suitcases, and trunks because they often came in the height and width I knew would work for my 81" wide couch. Here are a few items I considered:

Stacked Suitcases ($39.95 each)

Rounded Trunk ($99)

White Trunk ($150)

7. Return Triumphant. My "ah-ha" moment came when I spotted the perfect shade of blue trunk in the back corner of one of the vendor booths. Holding my breath I turned stepped closer to peek at the price tag = $45.95. SOLD! I was so happy to find exactly what I was looking for and within my price range. Once I placed my new find inside my Living Room, I felt much more satisfied with the redecorating results.

Recently I found a charming little blue and white fan to place on top of the trunk. The fun thing about Flea Market shopping is that you can constantly curate new collections within your home. I like to move things around my home, creating little vignettes that speak to my heart. This fan says "beach" to me, which works perfectly with my new "coastal living" decor.

Flea Market shopping is a rush. Be prepared to get addicted quickly. If you like unique pieces or items with history, try visiting a Flea Market or Antique Shop. Every time you visit, it feels like a treasure hunt. And who doesn't want to come home loaded with treasure?


  1. I love shopping vicariously through others. It's fun that you took pictures of the maybes too! :)

  2. I have to ask. What are you going to do with that $15 ruler? My dad was a carpenter in his youth and I am sure he has a least one ruler like that!

  3. Linda, I have no idea how I'm going to use that ruler yet. But I love the architectural look of it. LOVE! :)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...