Flea markets overwhelmed me for a long time, especially the haggling for prices. I loved going to Portobello Road to check out jewelry and booths, but didn’t go to the amazing flea markets of London and Paris. My mom had always loved going to yard and estate sales to find the most amazing oriental rugs, bureaus and paintings and taught me how to spot high quality furniture. I also have caught a few episodes of Flea Market Flip and am totally inspired. I see great pieces in friends apartments and on blogs and want to jump in and find hidden treasures.
With some tips from Emily Schuman’s book and blog, Cupcakes and Cashmere, I have started venturing to the Alemany Flea Market in San Francisco. It isn’t as big as the Alameda or Treasure Island flea markets, but it is a short bus ride away from me and tends to be pretty low key. Alemany doesn’t have much furniture, which is fine for me since I don’t have a car to transport it home in. Someday I’d love to buy great old chairs and refinish them, but for now I’m just looking for accents to make my Ikea-filled room more personal.
My latest finds are a small Waterford crystal bowl, a small silver dish, a bronze donkey and a beautiful flower pin. The bowl holds my collection of shells, rocks and sea glass and catches the light from the window. The dish holds my makeup and provides a bit of organization to my mantle. I’ve named the donkey Sass the Ass and really find it way cuter than it actually is. My future house will hopefully be filled with beautifully refinished chairs, vintage mirrors, and of course, Sass the Ass.
My own tips are to bring reusable bags for carrying purchases, go with all the cash you might want to spend but nothing more, wear comfy (not too expensive looking) clothing and bring a friend for a second opinion. Go with your gut and be a bit flexible on pricing. I got the Waterford crystal bowl for nothing, which made my slight overpaying for Sass the Ass okay.