In my late teens and early 20s, Sundays always meant flea market time. My father always hated this and whenever I would come home with my goodies, he would usually end up throwing them away. I usually ended up digging these items out of the trash later on, but I soon learned to secretly sneak items in and pass them off as items from the mall.
Now that I don’t live at home, I no longer have to worry about my vintage shopping addiction. This also means that I want to buy everything I see and am very tempted to load up my car with furniture that won’t match the decor of my place. Thankfully, I have some sense of self-control and have yet to buy any furniture.
For awhile, I stopped vintage shopping (mainly because I got lazy), but lately, I’ve been drawn to flea markets again. There’s something fun and exciting about waking up early on a Sunday morning and scouring for treasures. Finding something great always makes my heart skip a beat and when I get a great deal on an item, I want to run around in circles. (Don’t worry, I usually don’t do that…)
Tips for Shopping at Flea Markets:
- Wear comfortable shoes. Yes, those wedges would look damn cute with your outfit, but trust me, you’ll hate them after the first hour.
- Wear comfortable clothes and don’t over accessorize. I go vintage shopping in shorts or workout clothes during the summers, because it gets so hot. And since there are no dressing rooms at flea markets, you have to try on clothes in the corner over your clothes. It’s easier to try on stuff when you’re wearing form fitting clothes and not wearing too many accessories that will get in your way.
- Keep cool. Especially during the summer, the heat gets a bit unbearable. Wear clothes that will keep you cool, bring a hat, and bring several iced cold waters. Cold beverages are sold at the flea market, but it’s always cheaper to bring your own.
- Take small cash. Most vendors won’t have change and a lot don’t accept cards.
- Take reusable bags and/or cart. The plastic bags that the vendors give you are a bit flimsy and sadly, I’ve broken one too many glasses, because the plastic bag handles have broken. A sturdier bag is always great for keeping your great finds safe. Once you start frequenting flea markets more, carts become very helpful and your arms will thank you later.
- Bargain! Bargain! Bargain! Bargaining is expected. Also, when a vendor tells you “the lowest I’ll go is $x”, try and get a lower price. The worst that will happen is they’ll say “no” and you continue to bargain until everyone is happy.
Rose Bowl Flea Market
1001 Rose Bowl Dr.
Pasadena, CA 91103
Admission – 9:00 AM – Close – $8, 8:00 AM – 9:00 AM – $10, 7:00 AM – 8:00 AM – $15, 5:00 AM – 7:00 AM – $20.
2nd Sunday of every month
The Rose Bowl Flea Market only happens once a month and it’s quite large. I would divide it into three main sections — vintage clothing, vintage furniture & other household items, and non-vintage (random homemade goods, and other non-vintage items at a cheap price).
Rose Bowl Flea Market
Trading Cards from the 90s
I’m not crazy about this shade of these bedside tables, but it’s easy to repaint it to a color that’s more flattering. I’m also a tad obsessed with the horse. I’ve been obsessed with animal silhouettes on clothes for awhile and I think the animal obsession is now moving onto house decor.
White furniture is always a bit too shabby chic for my taste, but once again, you can always repaint it.
I love the little cubbies. There’s so much potential to this piece and you can leave it as-is or fix it up a bit. I also love the Pottery Barn-esque feel to it (here).
Vintage Airplane Seats
Rummaging through $1 clothes are not for the weak. I don’t even bother with it since my style isn’t “cool” enough to pull off half the items, but it’s always fun to watch other people.
I’m also not “cool” enough to pull off vintage shoes. I think the only vintage shoes I’ve ever bought were my cowboy boots, but generally I stay away from shoes.
Purchased 7 for $25.
Unfortunately, 2 were broken on the way home.
Vintage Waterford Decanter
Purchased for $50.
My friends are very thirsty so unfortunately, I have to buy alcohol in bulk and most ends up getting consumed immediately. I’m slowly trying to expand my collection of alcohol and buy pretty decanters. There’s something nice about drinking alcohol that’s poured from a decanter.
Purchased for $10.
For some odd reason, I have no black clutches. I love that this is sparkly and isn’t too boring.
Melrose Trading Post
7850 Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Admission – $2
I used to frequent the Melrose Trading Post every Sunday and I think it’s a great place for “beginners”. It’s located at the Fairfax High School and it’s not overwhelming. There’s a good mix of vintage clothes and furniture and even though I prefer the Rose Bowl Flea Market for anything home-related, I love the Melrose Trading Post for clothes. I’m horrible at looking through racks of clothes and get bored very easily. Since there’s a limited number of vendors, I find it easier to find clothes.
Rack of Fur
Amongst many other things, I have a fur obsession. I was tempted to try some stuff on, but I can’t even think about fur in the middle of July. I’ll wait until September or so to start looking for fur jackets.
Vintage Suitcases & Trunks
Surprise! I also have an obsession with vintage trunks and suitcases. I own a set of hot pink vintage suitcases and I learned the hard way that using them while flying commercial is the worst idea ever. Not only are they heavy, but it’s just a pain to store. Movies make it look so glamorous traveling with vintage suitcases, but it’s better to just display them around the house…unless you’re flying private and happen to have a set of Louis Vuitton trunks that someone carries for you.
Vintage Jewelry Armoire
Currently, I have no way of storing my jewelry. It’s just sitting in random boxes and I often forget what I own. Something like this would be great to organize my jewelry. I was tempted to buy this and repaint it, but I promised myself, no furniture. I’m also not so secretly holding out for the Horchow Mirrored Jewelry Armoire.
Vintage Polka Dot Skirt w/ Bow
Purchased for $50.
This was originally $60, but the vendor was unwilling to go down to $40. I walked away at first, but I returned 2 minutes later. First of all — polka dots. Second, it’s such a unique piece. I do need to take it into a tailor and add some fabric to the front so I don’t flash people, but after a few changes, I think it would look great with my pink python Christian Louboutins. I’m still contemplating what top to wear the skirt with.
Purchased for $15.
A muumuu that was turned into a top. I love colorful tops with lots of patterns. Since I’m not a pants kind of girl, I would pair this with a white skirt.
Purchased for $40.
I’ve been on the hunt for a vintage briefcase for awhile now, but most of the ones I’ve seen were over $100 and overpriced in my opinion. I’m glad I purchased this simple briefcase I can use for work.
Flea markets and vintage shopping are not for the weak! You have to go prepared and be very patient. Some days, I end up walking away with nothing and other days, I end up spending too much. I don’t consider myself to be a hipster and can’t pull off most vintage items (although, I do look good in 1950s and 1960s style dresses. Think January Jones from Mad Men), but it’s always fun to mix unique, vintage pieces (clothing and house decor) with trendier, everyday pieces.