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Finding Gems at Flea Markets


Texans have a longer flea market season.

Texans have a longer flea market season.

Lori Verderame on Google+

Dr. Lori, Celebrity Ph.D. antiques appraiser, Dr. Lori hosts antiques appraisal events worldwide. Dr. Lori is the star appraiser on Discovery channel.   Visit www.DrLoriV.com, www.Facebook.com/DoctorLori, Lori Verderame on Google+or call (888) 431-1010.

By Lori Verderame

Slow and steady wins the race

While lots of novice collectors are in the spirit of antique hunting in warm weather months, true collectors can shop for their collections and get great items and good deals practically all year in Texas.

At every flea market — originally named for the bugs that were attracted to old objects pulled from attics and basements in 19th century France — you’ll find some bargains and some bologna. When shopping at a big outdoor flea market event, whether for a couple of hours or an entire weekend, be prepared. Even if you aren’t shopping for Boy Scout memorabilia, this is a good motto.

Be prepared with comfortable shoes, a good sun hat or umbrella, canvas shopping bags, bottled water, some snacks and cash in small bills.

Get the lay of the land first before you buy. I have coined the phrase “walk with your wallet” when it comes to flea market shopping. Before you buy anything, take a lap around the entire outdoor flea market. Do not start shopping right away — always look before you leap. I know it sounds like a big job, but your personal trainer will commend you for the extra exercise, and your financial advisor will be thrilled at all the money you save. This method will help you see what’s available for sale and stick to your budget, too. Look at each table or booth carefully. Talk to the sellers to see what you might like to negotiate for and how willing they are to deal. Look at how the booth is organized, consider the condition of the seller’s offerings, and see just how much inventory they expect to sell off at the seasonal flea market. Collect information, and get the lay of the land as you look at the antiques offered for sale. Don’t get invested in any of the objects just yet. Don’t buy too quickly; hone in on quality stuff and good bargains.

If you aren’t sure about the authenticity of a piece, take a pass and reconsider it later. Use your smartphone to send a picture to me so I can tell you what a particular object is and what you should pay for that flea market find. Go to DrLoriV.com on your phone.

During your shopping, if you think something should be priced lower than its asking price considering its condition or other factors, just don’t buy it. Wait to see if there is something more attractive to your collector’s eye and to your wallet. Converse with the seller — he or she may be willing to offer a reduced price or more information. Then, once you know your preferred path around the market, ask for a discount. Odds are you will get what you ask for if you are paying with cash and if you are reasonable. Try to remain focused when collecting because established and large collections can increase the value of an entire collection.

Don’t worry about missing out on an item when you are walking the market. Many people don’t think a specific antique will still be available if they don’t act fast, but I find that you are better served as a shopper if you know what is available before you buy. This gives you greater negotiating power, too. Getting information about the inventory at a flea market will help you spot the good stuff at a good price. Slow and steady wins the flea market race.

Happy hunting


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