7 Antique Market Shopping Tips To Try.
If like me, you’re a bit of a fan of an early morning antique market haul, then you’ll be happy to read that I’ve come up with seven antique market shopping tips to think about before you set that alarm and head out on your next flea market mission. This all came about thanks to my lovely artist friend Colette bullying me into getting up one-morning waaaaaay before the wood pigeons outside my window even begin to think about cooeing, and head over to the Sunbury Antiques Market at Kempton Park Racecourse.
We had both had a bit of a yen to head to a market after being inspired on the vintage finds front when we attended the fab vintage styling course held by the photographer Tamsyn (@TamsynMorgans) and wedding stylist Katie (@TheVintageHouseThatCould). They had so many cute little props to play with which made it super easy to have your Instagram grid looking beautifully stylish in a nano second, that Colette and I figured we needed some of that magic in our own homes.
So for the first of our antique market shopping tips, I would definitely suggest you need to arrive early. And when I say early, I mean the 6.30am side of early. Market traders are allowed to unpack at this time, so this is the perfect opportunity to nab your bargains. Any later and you are left with the usual smattering of good to mediocre pieces – the early bird catches the worm and all that.
Secondly definitely dress down. If you are dressed in your yummy mummy uniform – for me think denim shorts and tee and a lovely flowing kimono in this weather… then you stand out like the proverbial sore thumb and you will find everything costs an extra tenner or two. Market traders can sniff out the smell of a cash wedge from 100 yards and will instantly inflate the price on clocking your Gucci crossbody bag – be warned.
On the note of money – only take cash – and lots of it if you have something in mind that you want to snap up. Although at the flea market end of the scale you can pick up some kitchen or garden items for under a fiver, if you have your eye on something larger – think retro furniture or lampshades etc, then a savvy trader will have already figured out the sell-on value of said item, and it will be priced accordingly. Also, it makes you feel slightly like Del Boy carrying a wedge of cash around and what’s not to love about that?
Don’t buy the first thing you see. Antique markets are generally huge and well stocked. Type tends to stick with type so there will usually be an area where the vintage jewellery stands set up, kitchen furniture, furs etc. It’s best to take a quick recce of the place making a mental note of any good stuff and then doubling back in for the kill/purchase.
Ironically this is the first thing Colette saw (and bought) with her magpie eye and turns out it has a 1906 stamp on it!
Also be prepared to haggle. I know it’s not very British, but you’d be surprised what a subtle “That’s too rich for my blood” throwaway comment can provoke – oftentimes your friendly neighbourhood trader will knock a couple of quid off an item right there and then for the sale win.
Don’t forget to take some of your own carrier bags or an old lady shopping cart or wagon works a treat for bigger items. There’s nothing worse than being at the furthest end of the market and finding that glorious metal vintage sign you’ve had your eye on for the last twenty years, and you can’t physically get it back to your car. Whilst batting the odd eyelash can sometimes persuade a trader to help you muscle your winnings to the car, it’s generally left down to you to get your newly prized possession home as soon as the deal is done.
Finally, wear flat shoes that you are comfy pounding the pavement in. Antique markets are notoriously vast behemoths of things and traders can be found in the furthest reaches of a venue, so there’s often a lot of walking involved. Also, see tip no.1 – if you have failed to arrive super early, then you are in the furthest car park, and your walking distance from the car to vendors is probably doubled.
So that’s it. There are plenty of antique markets to head to this summer. They are also great fun for the kids to attend as they generally fire up all sorts of conversations about the history of a find or an ‘I remember when’ moment from your past as you spot all sorts of gorgeous little trinkets and memory prompts while browsing the stalls.
I think my mum may have made me one of these back in the day…
We headed to the Sunbury Antiques Market which is held at Kempton Park Racecourse every second and last Tuesday of each month. Free parking and indoor/outdoor stalls. Also, take a peek at their sister market at Sandown Park Racecourse every first Tuesday of the month. Whilst Portobello Road is always a winner if you are based in London.
For more outdoor/gardening salvage/reclaim vibes head to the amazing Summers Place Auction house and sculpture garden in Billingshurst.