On summer mornings, as the world begins to wake up, you will hear the buzz. People are beginning to make their way to an American tradition that many of us have grown up with. Treasures await at the local flea market.
History of the Flea Market
People often wonder about the name of this outdoor shopping event. The term “flea market” comes from the French term “marché aux puces” meaning outdoor bazaar and because the items were sold outdoors, they may contain fleas! The sale of desired items outdoors was highly popular in France in the 19th century.
The popular outdoor shopping bazaar made its way to the United States after the Civil War, around 1873. Although the exact location isn’t known, some believe it began in Texas. The concept was warmly received and then spread all over the country quickly. Today there are over 5,000 established flea markets in America serving over 100 million shoppers each year.
Popularity of the Flea Market
In the age of online shopping and high-end boutiques, what makes people flock to a flea market? For some, it is the tradition that has been passed down to each generation, bringing the nostalgia of childhood times with family and friends. For others it is the fact that there are items for everyone, some you knew you wanted and others you didn’t know you needed until you saw it, and the potential to find a bargain around every corner. There is also the hope of finding a unique or rare item.
Navigating a Flea Market
With so many people shopping at flea markets, how can you find a hidden gem? First, you must arrive early. Any self-respecting flea market fanatic knows everyone arrives early so if you are looking for specific treasures, you need to beat your competition. Next, bring some tools. Pack a flashlight, magnet, phone, notepad, and any other tool that is specific to detecting the value of your desired item. For antique jewelry aficionados, a magnet can help determine real silver. Also, use a flashlight to see the finely printed 925 showing you proof of sterling silver. If antiques and vintage items are on your list, know how to shop for vintage clothing. Some items can be made to look aged or worn so be on the lookout for authenticity.
Items to Look For
Some items you find at a flea market aren’t worth looking at or purchasing. Anything that is newer or bulk items are often found at flea markets, but you want to look for vintage items like décor, jewelry, and clothing. Some of the best buys at flea markets are one-of-a-kind items as well. Look for antique furniture, silver jewelry, vintage mirrors, farm implements, antique or vintage signs, unique household items, and other fun finds to add to your home.
Flea Markets are a piece of American history. It is a perfect venue to find the items that bring a piece of your history back to you as well as items you didn’t even know you needed until you saw them. Know what you are looking for and be able to sift through everything to find a prized piece. This is the true essence of “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” For more tips on navigating the world of all things vintage, check out ThisBlueBird.