Flea Market Survival Guide

by Adriani León, Vayable Intern

Next time you are traveling and want to get your family a gift that is representative of them or your adventures abroad, consider buying your gifts at a flea market! Flea markets offer a marketplace with wide ranges of items to please all tastes and budgets. The items there also tell a rich story about the culture and people of the places they come from.

Here are 6 tips for surviving a flea market and finding that perfect item for a good price!

  1. Get comfortable. Wear layers and comfy shoes! A passive bargaining technique is to dress down, this way people make fewer assumptions about you. Be careful, when dressing down, however, to make sure you do so in a context appropriate with local fashion.
  2. Plan ahead. If you are looking for a specific item, research some prices online first. You want to know exactly how much you should pay when you find that adorable trinket that reminds you of your childhood.
  3. Carry the right tools. Most vendors don’t accept credit cards so make sure to bring cash; vendors will appreciate small bills and exact change. Also, bring some extra bags!
  4. Timing. Professional flea market pickers arrive early to get the best items. If you’re not an early bird, or if you are more interested in bargains, consider going late. Vendors appreciate you lightening the load they have to pack up and bring back home, and you might even score some sweet last-minute deals! When the police go to siesta in the afternoon, locals will whip out more belongings to sell!
  5. Be Creative. If you end up finding items you were not looking for and can’t leave the market without, find new uses for them: What do you do with an imperfect antique tablecloth? Use it as fabric for clothing or to reupholstering furniture! What do you do with that wool sweater that may have a funky design in the front? Re-purpose the sleeves to leg warmers!
  6. Bargaining. The best advice is to be polite and not be afraid to ask. Bargaining, however, is still very hard to pull off- not all of us have the skill. If you find yourself in this category, you might consider the professional services or Marga Binoux.
Aerial view of the Barcelona flea market (photo by Jason Hawkes)

A professional fashionista with experience in costume design, Marga loves shopping. Take a tour with her of Barcelona’s best flea market, which dates back to the fourteenth century. Marga will fill you in on its history, show you the best deals, and she’ll even teach you how to bargain in Spanish! Check out her tour here.

For the truly brave, Marga says come early, “If you like waking up early and don’t mind feeling an intruder in a strange mafia atmosphere, it’s worth it!” You’ll see a melting pot of curiosities sold in lots!

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