This is the last of our blogs on our 2014 antiquing trip to the Cotswolds and beyond.
Flea and antique market shopping is different than shopping for antiques in clean, cozy buildings. Spending the entire day, usually outside, moving from booth to booth may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but you can’t beat the selection or the prices.
We buy most of our inventory of smalls at flea/antique markets in England and Europe. It’s our sport of choice. It’s all about finding a great bargain that we can pass onto our customers. Something new or different is just what we are looking forward to finding. We cover as much ground as possible, at all sorts of venues.
It’s fun but this is kind of shopping is not for the faint of heart. It’s not comfortable, nor clean. Portable toilets are the rule. Food is purchased from trucks. Often, the weather will not be perfect, so you are working against time. If the weather turns, the dealers are gone in a flash. We are up early, moving fast and staying until the dealers pack up. As the day comes to a close, you can find the real bargains, as dealers prefer not to lug their items back home.
On our last trip to England in 2014, we visited more fairs than we normally do and because of that, we’ve have some awesome bargains coming in the next container. Here are the fairs we visited:
- Stow on the Wold Flea and Collectors Fair
- Cheltenham Boot Sale
- Malvern Flea and Collectors Fair
- Great Wetherby Racecourse Antique Fair
- Magnes Antique Fair
- Swinderby Village Hall Antique Fair
- Winthorpe Antique Fair
- Pride of Lincoln Antique Fair
- Arthur Swallow Lincolnshire Fair
- IACF Newark Fair
Here are some of our survival tips for flea market shopping.
- Start early. We hate to be late; Philip always feels like he has missed something of value if we aren’t there when it opens.
- Wear comfortable all-weather shoes. You may be stomping in mud puddles and standing all day.
- Carry more than one collapsible tote bag. If it’s a good fair, you may need to unload several times during the day and it’s a long walk back to the car.
- Bring a small note pad and pen to track your purchases. At the end of the day, you won’t remember how much you paid for which item.
- Bring cash, in small bills. Don’t count on the presence of an ATM.
- Dig for items. Scanning a booth from the aisle won’t cut it. Look under tables and through boxes.
- Travel in light layers, adding or shedding as the sun plays peekaboo.
- Buy quickly and keep hold of the item until you finish the sale.
- It’s ok to haggle, but only if you are serious about making a purchase. If the dealer can’t come down to your price, make sure you still thank them.
Magna Carta Pub in Lincoln with Stephanie, Suzanne, Peter, and Philip.
At the end of the day, it’s great to settle around a table at the neighborhood pub and share our stories and finds with friends.