How to Guide: Finding Hidden Gems and Awesome Antiques at the Flea Market

Are we wrong, or is it true that just about everybody loves a good flea market? Of course, we are in the age of DIY, vintage furniture and decoration, flipping, upcycling, and restoring. So, it’s not unusual that most people get a kick out of looking for hidden gems that can be rejuvenated. Here are a few tips that will make it easier to find that mid-century modern chair or that Victorian porch swing. Let’s get started on our short course in finding that special something.

1. Flea markets, garage sales, yard sales, estate sales, and the like, open very early in the morning. The phrase, “the early bird catches the worm” is not lost on the purveyors of used items. Even if the sign you hammered on a post at the only four-way stop in town said your sale would begin at 7:00 AM, you can be sure that dedicated hoarders and dealers will be in front of your house at 5:00 AM. So, obviously, the earlier you can get to the venue, the better your chances of scoring a real deal, a hidden gem, or a genuine antique. Don’t cry when you arrive later in the day, thinking that all the good stuff is missing. Sellers sometimes bring more items out to be sold as the day progresses, and often a jewel of a deal has simply been overlooked by previous treasure hunters.

2. Seasoned flea market goers would never set foot on the hallowed grounds of the sale without their handy “second-hand item searching” tools. These devices make the hunting much easier and more fun:

  • Magnifying glasses to see things like real sterling pieces (sterling silver is engraved somewhere on the piece, but the engraving or stamp is extremely tiny)
  • Magnets to test whether an object is authentically brass or silver (neither of these metals is magnetic)
  • Penlights to use in the dark or to see small engravings
  • Notebooks to write down the things you might want to return to and purchase
  • Smartphones for researching, taking a picture or sending a photo of an item to a friend

3. Study up on the signs that tell you if an object is actually old or is fake. Since items can now be “aged” even by beginning Pinterest pinners, it is more important than ever to know some basic information. In some cases, these tips will help you avoid the “just made it look older” furniture, bottles, or baskets. Here are a few tips for discovering antique or vintage pretties:

  • Look for ripples in glass objects.
  • Examine the product for rusted nails, or bleeding rust transferred from the brad to the wood.
  • Notice crackling in glazed pottery pieces.
  • Inspect for packed dirt in the crevices of the piece that have built up over the years.

4. Become more educated, especially when it comes to your favorite antiques and vintage products. If you are into cut-glass, for example, read up on the differences in cut-glass, leaded glass, pressed glass, depression glass and so forth. A bit of Googling will provide you with guidelines for determining the type of glassware for which you are hunting. This deep-dive research will also allow you to become familiar with manufacturers, recognize distinctive features, identify coloration differences, and learn other tricks that will come in handy while you are searching.

If you are the kind of flea market persona, who loves to dig through old things, missing the opportunity to purchase that one great antique at Beach Boulevard Flea Market will not get you down. Instead, you will patiently wait for the next item to come along for your perusal. And you will buy it just because it brings you joy. Finding a lost treasure is exhilarating, but buying a $5 necklace that looks just like one your grandmother wore is just as exceptional.

Show off your Beach Blvd. Flea Market finds by sharing them on social media! Don’t forget to tag us on Facebook, Instagram, Google or Twitter @jaxfleamarket or use hashtag #jaxfleamarket in your caption! And don’t forget Free Table Fridays from 7:00am to 5:00pm. On Fridays, anyone can come and use free provided tables (on a first-come-first-served basis) to sell whatever their hearts desire.