The following is a guest post from Romona at Mona Sez. If you’re interested in submitting a guest post to Frugal Rules, consult our guest posting guidelines and contact us.
If you’ve never been to a flea market, you may be missing out on some amazing deals on items you’re paying more for somewhere else. You’re also definitely missing out on a fun and entertaining atmosphere. One of the things I love about shopping at the flea market is the characters I meet there. As long as you don’t find haggling over price stressful, you’ll enjoy shopping, and saving, at your local flea market. Here are my six favorite tips for saving big at the flea market.
Never Pay Asking Price
One of the biggest advantages to shopping at the flea market is the power of negotiation. As a flea market shopper, you should never pay the asking price. Almost all vendors at flea markets are willing to negotiate prices. For first time flea market shoppers it may feel weird asking a vendor for a deal but vendors expect their customers to negotiate prices. The best strategy for negotiating with a vendor is to be friendly and do your best to build a good rapport with the vendor. Don’t try to lowball vendors as that can come across as offensive and make them less inclined to give you a price break. Instead, offer a little more than half of what a vendor is asking. Offering 75- 80% the cost of the item will most likely will be accepted right off the bat.
Make A List
When shopping at flea markets it’s easy to get distracted when you’re surrounded by so many affordable things to buy. Keep a list handy and focus on exactly what you came for. Doing so will help you save because you eliminate the temptation of buying things you didn’t come for. Also, expect it to be difficult to find what you’re looking for at a flea market. Unlike department stores, flea markets have no organization to them. Your list may be the only thing that helps you remember what you came to the flea market for in the first place. Think of flea market shopping as something like a scavenger hunt. When you go on a scavenger hunt, you don’t pick up extra items, you stick to what’s on your list.
Don’t Buy Impulsively
Buying impulsively at a flea market can be dangerous. Most vendors accept cash only and once you make a purchase, all sales are final. Don’t give in to the fear that if you don’t buy an item immediately, you’ll be giving up a one-of-a-kind deal to someone else. Take some time to think about the purchase and evaluate whether or not you really are getting a good deal. Many vendors carry the same products so browse multiple vendors and compare prices before making a purchase. The worst feeling ever is to buy something from a vendor, think you’ve gotten a good deal, and then find another vendor a few feet away selling the same product for less.
Always Keep EBay or Amazon Handy
Use Amazon and EBay to find out how much products are worth before making a purchase. When dealing with flea market vendors, you’re dealing with people who have no formal price list or pricing system. Most of the prices they charge are just their assessment of what an item is worth. Some vendors may overcharge purposely while others may do so unknowingly. Either way, you need to know the value of the item before you buy it. You never want to find yourself spending unnecessary money on items that are not worth it.
If you have a smartphone, download the EBay and Amazon app, type in the items and see what they’re going for. Use the information you find to help you decide what it is worth and negotiate the price.
Most vendors don’t have an electronic payment option. Therefore, cash is king at flea markets. Also, having cash will allow you to set a budget and stick to it. Bring only the cash you can afford to part with and bring it in small bills. Shopping at flea markets with large bills just leads to vendors charging you more because they assume you can afford it or because they ‘don’t have the change to break your bills.’ Also, don’t pull all your money out in front of vendors, only pull out what you plan to offer for the item.
Don’t Go to the Flea Market Early
Shopping flea markets isn’t the same as shopping garage sales. A different strategy is required to maximize your savings and get the best deals. Most people say that getting to the flea market as early as possible will get you the best deals. The early bird catches the worm, right? In the case of flea markets, I say ‘wrong.’ I tend to believe that shopping towards the afternoon helps you get better deals. Think about it. By the end of the day, vendors are tired and ready to go home. They just want to sell whatever’s left so that they won’t have to pack it up and take it home. Therefore, they’re more inclined to offer better deals. The goal of a vendor is to sell everything and go home with a nice profit. You can use this and my other tips to rack up the savings while having fun at your local flea market.
Do you shop at flea markets? What tips do you have to save money?
Romona Bradham is the owner of Monasez.com, a lifestyle blog which helps millenials achieve financial stability. Romona’s work has been featured on various sites. When she’s not blogging, she enjoys writing fiction novels. You can follow Romona at Google+, and Twitter.
Photo courtesy of: Zoetnet