More exciting adventures from our Guest Editor Margaret from Shine by Three, as she gives all her tricks to savvy market shopping all the from Brooklyn’s Flea Market in New York
I feel intensely lucky that I’m sharing market advice with you using the world famous Brooklyn Flea Market as an example. Admittedly that comment, “Can I have these for $10 each? I’m Australian” really works in your favour when you’re here in New York (so if you’re around, and you’re shopping, then there’s a trick for the cards). However, regardless of what market I’m at, there are always ways of getting prices down on incredible vintage clothing and jewellery that I’m always a sucker for. Here are a couple of my favourites… that work (almost) every time:
1) Hard to get. There’s a fine balance between wanting to sell something for a certain price, and just wanting to sell it, period. If you declare that you are absolutely smitten with a piece but that you’re a struggling student and couldn’t possibly forgo lunch for such a necklace, then walk away looking upset, and come back 2 hours later saying that you left the market and walked all the way back from an hour away just because you kept thinking about said necklace, they’ll ‘awwww’ and give you $10 off. Because at that point, if it hasn’t been sold, all they want to do is sell it.
2) Bulk buy. Markets can never be conquered alone. I’ve tried it, and spent way more money than I ever wanted to (then you can’t buy food and things get awkward). Always shop with at least two friends with very different style to yourself, so you never end up fighting over anything wearable, and follow these steps:
– browse a stall at the same time and pick out the things that you want, then mass exodus to the next (maybe keep a list so you don’t forget)
– once you’ve combed the market, come back around and check if the pieces you wanted are still there – if not, it wasn’t meant to be. If so, give them all to one person and figure out a reasonably bulk price… e.g. if three blazers cost $40 each, it would be fairly reasonable for you to ask for all three for $100 (make sure the comrade sent in to battle is the ultimate bargain-downer: my Mum is the bomb)
– split your winnings and pay up, then go spend what you saved on pide (or in Brooklyn Flea’s case, homemade smores – om nom nom)
3) Hurry up. This is a sneaky one – and you really need to train up your skills at picking out good things just by looking at them and maybe (maybe) feeling the fabrics very quickly. Turn up at your favourite market just before closing time when vendors are starting to pack up, are kind of hungry, and want to make that last bit of cash before they bail for drinks with friends, and tell them about the strange people who came and bought old clothes from them that day. Sprint the last block there (so you’re breathless), and do a really quick walk around the market and spot some pieces you’d like.
Run up to the seller and say something along the lines of, “Oh my goodness, I know that you’re packing up already but I just saw this [insert piece] from the other side of the road and I have to have it. It’ll be so perfect for [insert super important event/occasion here that may or may not be real]… it’s $[insert amount], right?”. And I’m going to tell you now (as hilariously terrible as it is – but whatever I’m a student and I can be a massive stinge because I need to eat), I have gotten away with saying “It’s $35 right?” to something that was marked $135 – simply because you’re ‘in a hurry’, clearly know what you’re talking about with vintage, and they want that extra $35 to buy an extra 10 beers at the pub, it often works.
4) Talk like that. This last is probably the best life advice I will ever give you guys. Who has shame these days anyway? Befriend that vendor. Friends give friends discounts. The logic is flawless. If you shook hands with Barack Obama the day before, throw that in there and start a conversation.
My favourite markets back home in Sydney are definitely Rozelle Markets and Surry Hills (though I’m told Paddington is beautiful for jewellery – not that I’ve been). Here in NYC, I’ve only been to Brooklyn Flea so far, and I plan on going to the Manhattan Vintage Fair this coming weekend, so if you’re following on Facebook (linke) and Twitter (link), you’ll definitely be hearing about that!
What are your favourite markets in your home towns, and your sneaky market tips, bloglovers? Would love to hear them!