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11 Winning Tricks for Shopping Second Hand at Flea Markets, Garage Sales and Thrift Stores

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Shopping second-hand like at flea markets or thrift stores for a one-of-a-kind treasure can be an exciting affair – or you can get sucked into the rabbit hole of second-hand glassware, depressing watercolors, and putrid vintage shoes.

Flea markets, garage sales and thrift stores are fantastic second-hand resources for unique clothes, accessories, and home furnishings with flair. Approach these treasure troves with the right frame of mind (and the right shoes), and you can find what you are looking for without losing your marbles.

Check out these do’s and don’ts, and learn tips and tricks for winning at shopping destinations with multiple vendors, endless rows of booths, and unorganized merchandise.


1. Do go early for the best selection of merchandise, and go late for the best deals. For thrift stores, ask the personnel when they usually put newly received items on the shelves, and plan your next visit to arrive right after.

2. Do bring cash, which will often come along with a substantial discount on the merchandise. Leave the 100s at home and opt for smaller bills instead.

3. Do have an idea of what you’re looking for, if at all possible. Particularly at large-scale flea markets, like the Rose Bowl Flea Market, random browsing can make your eyes go crossed. Focusing on one genre of item will help you mentally sort through the piles of stuff.

4. Do shop with your friends who also love to shop. For some people, spending a few hours at a flea market or garage sales is their worst nightmare. Choose your shopping partners wisely, and you’ll have more fun. And don’t drag along your unwilling husband/partner/boyfriend just so he can carry the goods.

5. Do wear comfortable shoes, dress in layers, and wear a bodysuit if you are doing some serious clothes shopping. Slap on a fitness tracker as well, if you want to be stunned by the number of steps that you walk in a day.

6. Do bring along a folding cart with wheels. Your hands will stay free for browsing, and you can easily

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From the Organic Authority Files


7. Don’t set foot in a flea market, thrift store or art fair if you are in a hurry. Patience is key at these clustered and cluttered events, which will put your hunting skills to the test.

8. Don’t be afraid to haggle. It’s part of the game! The more you do it, the more confident you’ll become – and the better prices you’ll get.

9. Don’t bring your dog, unless it’s a tiny teacup pooch that will sit in your purse and behave like a dream. Flea market and garage sale shopping is usually hot and crowded – not the ideal setting for your best friend.

10. Don’t forget your smartphone. When you’re trying to decide if that vintage armoire is really worth the price that the vendor is asking, your smartphone can provide crucial information. Step aside and do a quick search to find the prices of similar items listed online.

11. Don’t buy anything without inspecting it well. Do the zippers work? Are there hidden stains? Do the drawers pull out smoothly? Take a moment or two to check out every feature before you buy.

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Photo by np&djjewell

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