No doubt you have noticed the sharp rise in vintage market and sales events over the last couple of years. What were once events unique to particular regions have now been replicated throughout the country. This is particularly good news for those vintage lovers who live in an area devoid of much in the way of flea markets or vintage shops! These organized sales typically attract both vintage and handmade vendors from outside of your locale and provide a fun-filled experience of food, entertainment and vintage goods galore!
In the Kansas City area, we are fortunate to have access to multiple neighborhoods and small towns that make vintage shopping accessible all year long. Still, pop up vintage markets and sales abound especially from late spring through early fall. If one is so inclined, others located slightly farther away provide the perfect excuse for day trips to hunt for handmade and vintage treasures!
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Now, Y’all are fully aware that I love myself some good vintage shopping, but these sales can become quite overwhelming if you are not prepared for the experience. So, since we’re friends, I thought I’d take you with me on a stroll through a recent sale and share how I prepare for and navigate a vintage market event.
First and foremost be sure you have packed your flea market shopping list! While I have it on my phone, I also take a physical list of items I’m looking for and relevant measurements when attending an organized sale to ensure that I have access even if phone reception is spotty.
The next thing to arm yourself with is as much information about the specific sale as possible starting with information about the location. Is the sale being held outside or inside? Will you be walking on grass, pebbles, or a hard surface? Your footwear is super important! Wear the best choice for the conditions even though it might not be the cutest option! Believe me, your feet will thank you!
Be sure to check weather conditions for outdoor markets. One of my favorite flea market pieces was plucked out of a field in Kansas. This annual sale can be scorching hot with hard packed dirt walking surfaces, or a muddy mess requiring galoshes depending on the weather. And don’t forget the sunscreen for outdoor sales!
I always try to find out what the parking conditions are going to be. Will it be a paved lot or will you be driving through a farm field? How far away is the parking from the actual sale? You might want to consider taking a rolling hand cart if the distance is very far. I also typically wear a string backpack to carry very small items so they don’t get lost in the bottom of the cart. (The fact that it is a cute leopard print is a happy bonus!😊)
Many of the newer vintage markets operate with a high degree of customer service in mind to make shopping as easy as possible. Vendors will typically mark larger items “sold” and let you leave them until you are ready to head home. You may also find a package check booth available near the entrance of large sales that will keep you from having to carry items with you the entire time.
Here’s a big one!!! Will food be available as a part of the sale? Many of these events sport local food trucks and dedicated dining areas complete with entertainment. If not, how far away will you be from access to food? A vintage market can take quite a long time to cover, so you may find it easier or more efficient to pack a picnic if the sale is held in a more remote location.
Finally, be sure you know what type of payment is expected. As a rule, cash is king when it comes to your ability to bargain and may even be the only payment accepted. Credit card sales are becoming more common, but it is best to be ready with cash in case vendors are not set up for this service.
Now that you are fully prepared, it is time to SHOP!!!
Keep your eye out for new ways to display items that you may already own. Many vintage market vendors are very creative in the way they display their goods making these sales a great place to spark your creative juices! Case in point, let’s say you have a wreath that you love at home, but it looks a little lost in a space where you would like to use it. You run onto the display above and, BAM, who knew all you needed was a vintage window to layer behind it adding both interest and girth to your wreath display!
Many booths will have a wide variety of items all displayed together. This can give you ideas for building your own vignettes, but it can also be easy to experience visual overload. This is where having a list of a few things that you are actively looking for is helpful. It helps you keep your eye trained to look for those certain items amongst the many that are displayed, and helps you avoid becoming overwhelmed.
A vintage market event also typically attracts talented artisans who provide handmade goods with a vintage flair. Vendors run the gamut including handmade jewelry, laser cut metal signs or wooden pieces, and hand painted items like farmhouse signs. These particular vendors are some of my favorites! Now anyone can have the look they want even if they don’t have the time or access to materials or equipment needed to make these items.
Be ready to jump on a good value when you find it! If the perfect handmade farmhouse table and chair set is on your list, keep in mind that the booth likely only has one set in a situation like you see above. If you fall in love with it, it fits your measurements and your budget–be aware that if you walk away, it is very possible that it won’t be available when you return. If this were a vintage store I would advocate on the side of looking through every booth before making a buying decision. But, remember that these events have hundreds of people shopping all at the same time so items move quickly. Especially very unique ones.
Above all, don’t get so wrapped up in finding particular items that you forget to let yourself be inspired. I love looking for new upcycling ideas at these types of sales! Clock lovers would likely adore an old clock housing turned plant display! And you know that if you are an avid flea market and vintage shopper you have seen many an old sewing machine! Just look at these bookends made by cutting the old machine in half and mounting each side to a wood bracket! AWESOME! Think how it would look on slightly more refined wood brackets painted white and shabbied! Oh, be still my heart! Guess what just got added to my list!
Whether you are seeking of a fun day with the girls or are on the hunt for some quality vintage shopping, the vintage market experience may be just what you are looking for! A quick internet search should give you an idea of events that may be coming to your local area. You can also find events listed in several of the flea market publications on newsstands. Also, search for vintage sale events on Facebook. Most events offer advanced tickets at reduced prices so consider following their Facebook pages so that you can keep up with announcements and deals!
Here’s to your toe tapping, food truck eating, vintage treasure hunting success!
Hugs’til next time,
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