We have saved thousands of dollars by shopping at flea markets and yard sales over the years. The best part is, it’s also a fun activity for the summertime that doesn’t cost a thing if you only look around. Hunting for the right find is half the fun. We get to see interesting things, meet interesting people, and sometimes see new places. Today I’ll tell you about our top flea market and yard sale finds and our top tips for scoring that perfect used treasure.
In our area, we don’t have a large flea market that is open on a regular basis. At least, not one that is very close. What we do have, are a lot of churches that hold flea markets coinciding with their summer festivals as well as a healthy neighborhood yard sale schedule. We have tried selling our own excess items at a yard sale. That turned out to be a bust, mostly because it was not coordinated with any neighbors. You need a critical mass of people selling to get enough buyers into the sale. At the time we were de-cluttering the house and just wanted to be rid of the items.
Today though, I’m talking about the buying side, at which we have been very successful.
The Top Flea Market/Yard Sale Item
- Solid steel digging bar weighing over 25lb and 64″ long. I got this for $10. I can’t find an equivalent online, and I’m glad to have this one. It is UNBREAKABLE. At least, I could never put enough force on it to bend it. I have bent modern digging bars made for mere mortals in the past, but this one has never let me down.
- Solid steel hand tamper also $10
- Various shovels, hoes, and rakes. I’m not sure how much we spent, but it was very little for each piece.
Tools in general are a good buy at flea markets and yard sales. They are durable items and new ones can be expensive. Make sure any moving parts work, all the pieces are present, and that replacement bits or blades are still available for the model you are looking at. We have bought:
- A hand-held jig saw that was $5. We used it for many projects around the house including cutting tile for the kitchen and bathroom. We would still have it except that someone borrowed it and I never got it back.
- A hand held router, also $5. I haven’t used this yet, but it works and I have projects in the backlog that will use it on.
- Many other small hand tools that have just become part of my collection and I don’t remember where I bought them.
- A reel mower that was $5. The kids can use it to help now the lawn without danger and it builds the habit of cutting the grass as a chore.
- This little green stool that was $1 or $2. How could this be a tool? I use it all the time while doing work around the house or on the car. It’s very useful to have a comfortable place to sit while working on plumbing or electric if it’s near the floor. I have more emotional attachment to this stool than many of the chairs in my house that have not supported me in a time of DIY need.
- Many soccer, basketball, football, and other balls.
- An exercise bike for $20 that is getting a lot of use. It’s not fancy, but it works for days when the weather is poor and motivation to run outside is low. We also have the kids ride it while they play on the ipad or ipod.
- A jogging stroller that was $20. It’s our second yard sale jogging stroller. The first was also $20, but then we found a better one and sold the “original” for $5 or $10.
- Young kids bikes are also a great flea market buy. Kids outgrow bikes very quickly. Once they are tall enough for a 24″ wheel bike, we start looking at higher quality used and new bikes since they will fit that size for a few years.
- A 80 lb heavy bag for $15.
- We just bought 2 sets of rollerblades that two of the boys have been using daily. Total cost was $6. They will outgrow these by next summer, so buying inexpensive used pairs is a really good deal.
- Heavy glass beer steins
- Counter-top canisters
Home Decor Items
- An artificial tree that we use in addition to the cut tree at Christmas.
- Various Christmas decorations
- Old tools & kitchen items that don’t work but look interesting
- Old books and picture frames
- We also just bought a milk can for $10 that Em plans to turn into a side table and a copper wash tub that will be a planter for $10.
- Heavy glass beer steins – $0.50 each
- Counter-top canisters
Flea Market Tips
Here are the lessons we have learned over the years shopping at yard sales and flea markets:
Be On Time
Cash Is King
Make A list
Bring A Tape Measure
If you don’t try to negotiate, you will overpay. Plus, it’s the perfect chance for low-stakes negotiation practice. Know that you can just walk away if the price isn’t right. There is nothing that you HAVE to have.