Not only do we sell at flea markets, but we also shop at them too. And it can be quite the overwhelming ordeal. Rows and rows of vendors, treasures everywhere. It always feels like if you don't look in every nook and cranny that you're going to miss that one amazing deal that you didn't even know you were looking for. It feels that way, because it's usually true... so needless to say, we spent a LOT of time at each place when we're shopping. Treasure hunting isn't an easy business, guys.
I was pleased to find these photos while sifting through the Google Life Archives (which is worth wasting a few hours on, trust me), because it showed me that yet again, some things never change, and we are definitely not the first generation who sees the appeal of spending all day perusing. These photos are from 1950 and picture a very stylish (seriously, check out that outfit!) Nancy Talbot, co-founder of Talbot's clothing, meandering the aisles of what appears to be an absolutely fabulous market. Talbot seems to experience a lot of the same things that we do while shopping...
#1. She knows that it's clever to bring a partner in crime. It's easier to have two sets of eyes than one... the person you're with will undoubtedly spot something fabulous that you've missed. This only works if you're on the same team. Although, if she spots something amazing that you were destined to own and she intends to buy it for herself, you're allowed to hit her (gently).
This illustrates why it's good that Caiti and I are on the same team.
#2. You will undoubtedly get distracted by something that you didn't set out to shop for. Maybe Nancy was actually looking for hats, but I doubt it - she looks off her game. But that's okay. Sometimes you find the coolest things in the places of the market you didn't plan to look (I don't know how many times I've found amazing things in completely misplaced sections - jewelry mixed in with baby clothing, amazing dresses mixed with what appears to be actual garbage - always be looking!)
#3. You will spend a ton of time interacting with vendors... so be nice to them! They're the ones who know what's up. If they don't have what you're looking for, they can surely set you up with someone who does. And if they DO have what you're looking for but you're looking for a better deal... be kind about it. Nothing is more annoying to a vendor than someone trying to browbeat you over money. And sidenote: that little trick about pointing out all the flaws with an item as a means to get a discount... tread lightly there. They know about the flaws, so you don't need to be a jerk about it.. it makes them ornery. You catch more flies with honey, honey.
#4. Just as you think you've found the perfect treasure and the one thing you can't live without...
...you'll undoubtedly get distracted by something else. Sometimes this is a nice way of prioritizing things. It makes you realize that either, a.) the item you're already holding is so precious you either need to carry it with you (if the market allows for that) or pay for it immediately, OR b.) whatever you were looking at doesn't even matter in comparison to the shiny thing off in the distance. If it's B, get to beatin' feet sister, you've got shiny things to buy!
#5. Sometimes, the thing that catches your eye... is... well, you don't know what it is. Is it a pin? Is it a brooch? Some sort of commemorative medal of honor or something?
Should you wear it on your right side... or... maybe your left?
Regardless - if you love it, you love it. And you should buy it. If you get that feeling when you find something like you've been punched in the gut, you'll regret leaving it. You don't always need to know exactly what it is to love it. My one tip is this: If you have the capability (if not, get thee a smart phone!), do a quick google search on the item to make sure you don't overpay because it's easy for that to happen if you know NOTHING about it. You don't have to do any full-on research... just maybe check some completed listings on eBay or just see what their list price is on Etsy. Some of our most fun items have been things that we didn't have a clue about... we'd buy them at auctions, and do research online, or ask fellow pickers what they know. Half the fun is letting the goods tell you their story! So even if Nancy didn't know where the crap to pin this thing, I sure hope she bought it. And I hope she didn't overpay too much.
#6. You will always spend more time shopping than you think you will. We usually just block out a whole day to wander around without time constraints. But we think it might be the best way to waste a day. Agree?
PS. for Maine people who want to spend hours shopping but aren't into the whole "daytime" thing - check out the Night Market at the Flea For All this Friday! We're doing a shindig to coincide with First Friday in Portland... lots of shopping and food and drink! we hope to see you there :)