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Junking for something specific

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Web Content 2009

by Heather Berry

Most people approach flea markets differently than they would a department store. Mall shoppers usually have a particular item, or category of item, in mind when they walk through the store’s front doors.

It’s not often you hear someone say, “I’m heading to the flea market for a birthday gift, lawn table or table lamp.” Still, “attacking” a flea market with something specific in mind is loads of fun and chances are slim you will have any buyer’s remorse over what you spent.

Stay Focused

Flea markets are the definition of distracting. When time is short, or you’re visiting a large market, remaining focused is key. Keep an inspiration picture or short list handy as you move from table to table.

If you’re on the hunt for a table lamp, for instance, bring a magazine picture along showing the style and/or look you’re trying to achieve.

Don’t Settle

If you find something similar to your inspiration but still lacking some qualities, don’t settle! There’s nothing worse than dragging something home, only to see it wind up in your own yard sale.

Shop a flea market, when looking for something specific, like you would any other store. Wait until your heart sings a little until you pull out the wallet. There will always be another flea market to shop.

Envision the End Result

Try to look at flea market items with the eyes of a visionary. Look at what something “could” be instead of accepting how the piece looks today. Keep in mind how paint, a good scrubbing, and/or accessories will alter the current look of the item.

Bring Visual Cues

If you find yourself limited in the visionary department, bring along something tangible to help you along. If it’s a lamp you’re seeking, bring a shade. If it’s a piece of furniture, bring a paint or fabric swatch matching the room or color you will paint it.

A Polaroid camera is a great tool when searching for one special item. As you cruise the market, take a picture of any pieces which catch your eye. At the end of the day, you will have a better ability to choose which item comes the closest to your inspiration.

Pat Yourself on the Back

Shoppers using these techniques are amazed how expensive styles can be duplicated with a little patience and focus. I once saved more than $200 on an iron scroll work lamp. While my inspiration lamp retailed for $240 new, I found a nearly identical piece for $18, including the cost of a new lampshade.