Thursday, August 19, 2010

Flea market finds

In my opinion, there are two types of flea markets; the ones that sell complete junk and the ones that sell junk and antique furniture, vintage jewelry, cool wooden frames etc. I had only been to the former, when I finally found the latter. Oh yes, the secret is out, Todd Farm flea market is swarming with hidden gems and good deals.

If you live north shore Boston or even in New England, it may be worth the trip. I do not find something great every time I go, but enough to make it worthwhile. Todd Farm is open Sundays, April through November. Most folks get there early. In fact, the tag line on the Todd Farm website is 'be up before the cows.' 

Some benefits of flea market shopping

  • You will have pieces that no one else will have
  • Some of the furniture you will find it much more solidly built that anything you will find today
  • It is green!

 I made the trip last Sunday and the best find was a vintage turquoise guitar. I thought I'd feature my best flea market finds, so here they are!

A solid oak buffet that I paid $110 for! The piece is really cool as the wood has a sort of tiger pattern to it. The stain used to be dark brown and there was filigree, but I removed it, stripped it down and stained it ebony. I also lined the drawers with crushed velvet from Exeter Handkerchief Company. I replaced the old brass hardware with new polished nickel pulls and knobs from Restoration Hardware. I will post more on the process later. All in all, the project was around $200 and now we have a place for keys, our bar and DVDs!

*The stain is much more even in person than in the photo.

A few of my favorite accessory finds include a vintage satin handbag with feathers and a wood frame. The handbag was $15 and the frame* was $10. There are several cool frames at this place. I have also found sparkly clasps that have made amazing jewelry pieces.

*The image in the frame is one of my jewelry designs photographed by Leah Haydock Photography.

I have saved the best for last! My all-time favorite find was a solid mahogany desk with a pull out drawer and legs that would make Gisele Bundchen jealous. I paid $115 for it and didn't have to do a thing! Right now, I have a large granite piece on top of it which used to be in the kitchen.

Some tips for happy flea market shopping

  • If you love it, buy it - I am still upset about the incredible mahogany end table that I had my eye on. After I walked away to think about it, I decided maybe 60 seconds later that I should buy it and when I came back it was sold. True story. You should not buy everything that catches your eye, which brings me to the next tip. 
  • Have a goal - it is very easy to get distracted at a place like a flea market, so if you have a goal, it will be easier on everyone, particularly anyone you are with.
  • Bring a tape measure - now that you have a goal, you will know what you are looking for and where it will go, right? Ok, now measure the space so that you know the scale you are working with. It is difficult to gage if the dresser will fit in your room when it is sitting in an open field.
  • Bring a truck or large vehicle - you know, just in case.
  • Bring cash - these places do not usually take credit cards and it is easier to negotiate with cash.
  • Negotiate - it is accepted as part of the culture of these things. If you do not feel comfortable doing this, bring a friend that does or accept that you will pay a little more.
  • Go early - I do not really do this and I am probably missing out, but I guess I will never know.
There you have it, everything you need to know about flea market shopping! If you do not live near Boston, then ask around or search online. There may be a markets in your area every weekend that you do not even know about!


  1. Very nice write-up, great tips. Part of the fun, for me, is the hunt! Can't wait until the next time we go flea marketing together.

  2. I found the COOLEST necklace at this very flea market... which reminds me, it broke and I need you to fix it. I'm going to send it to you :)

  3. @Linda - thanks! Well, we will have to make the trip when you visit in October!

    @Mary Meyer Photography - ah yes, I forgot about that necklace. Will fix.