It’s time for some good old-fashioned blogging, folks! Jess and I went to our first flea market in over a year on Sunday and I’m still riding the dopamine high. We were about 10 steps into the Rose Bowl before I was like, “Hey, can I turn this into a blog post?” and HERE WE ARE – I want to show you our hits, misses, and maybe even sprinkle some pro tips in there in case you’re a little rusty at in-person negotiation (I was).
The day was an absolute WINNER for me (less so for Jess, who shall hereby be known as “the girl with expensive taste” – everything she asked about had a huge price tag!) so let’s get to cooking, yeah? I’m going to start out with some quick refreshers on what to wear to the flea market, what to bring, etc. but if you’re a total pro, please just jump down so you can see what caught our eye! LET’S GO 🙂
What to Wear
Ah, yes, my most frequently asked question. The Rose Bowl is WILD because there’s a huge fashion area and it’s very easy to differentiate the folks who are there for clothing (they’re clean, fully styled, and they all look ready for a Sartorialist street style photoshoot) and the folks there for furniture and home goods (comfort is king). Here’s my go-to dressing checklist…
- A Baseball Hat: The sun WILL be in your eyes. Always. I don’t care what time you go. (PS. If you’re like “hey, hats don’t look good on me” – first of all, you’re wrong and being too critical because I’m sure you look amazing, but second of all, try a middle part *just* when you’re wearing hats. Total game changer.)
- A Windbreaker or Button Up with Multiple Pockets: If it doesn’t have 2 outside and 2 inside pockets, I don’t want it. I stash different monetary amounts in each pocket (e.g. $20 in one, $200 in another, $60 in a third, $40 in the fourth) so I don’t look like an asshole when I’m bartering. Do not end up being the person who negotiates for a lower price before whipping out a huge wad of cash!!! Plus, layers are important because they’re like, warm and lightweight and stuff…but mainly, the money thing.
- A Top You Don’t Mind Getting Dirty: OH MY, I WISH I HAD A PIC OF JESS AND I – we were DISGUSTING after hauling 4 rusty chairs back to her car at the end of the day. White tops are great because they keep you cool but MY GOSH AT WHAT COST???
- Leggings or Shorts: I mean, this is just my preference, but I’m way more comfortable walking around, bending down, and hauling things around when I’m appropriately dressed (because let’s be clear: this IS a workout). I also swear by Thigh Rescue when I’m wearing shorts (we walked ~8 miles over the day and it kept me SO COMFY).
- Actual Sneakers: We’re talking athletic sneakers, guys. Jess wore more traditional ~stylish~ tennis shoes (you know, the super flat and cute kind) and halfway through our first hauling trip to the car, she was like “ahhh, my dogs are BARKING.” That’s a direct quote and we had to do THREE MORE TRIPS back and forth, in and out of the flea, to get everything loaded up. Treat yourself to feet that don’t ache by the end of the day!
What to Bring
I mean, like, OTHER than cash (and the exact change for your entry ticket).
- A Tote or Ikea Bag: I know that most women have a supernatural ability to carry a million things in their hands, but don’t do that to yourself. Bring something to put your spoils in.
- A Cart: I am wildly loyal to this one from Food52 (it does triple duty as my laundry bag/grocery cart/recycling can and the special wheels mean I can bring it up the stairs easily!) but most folks just go with wire-framed ones that you can grab for $20-$40, like this. Wagons are also a good call if you’re getting bigger pieces.
- Measuring Tape: You know, to measure. Jess loves this one because the fractions are printed on it!!
- Water: You’re gonna need it.
- (Optional) A Dolly: If your car has room to store a dolly, BRING IT. Vendors will often let you borrow their carts (shoutout to Cynthia from Old Green Garage for letting me use hers to get my purchase back to Jess’ car!) but it’s nice to just have one in your car.
- (Optional) A Generous Friend With a Big Car: I won the lotto on this one 🙂 Jess’ car had room for everything we bought AND she drove me back to Koreatown after the flea in Pasadena…even though she LIVES IN PASADENA. Can you even believe?!?!
When to Get There
FREAKING EARLY. Anyone who arrives to a flea market at like, 9 or 10 AM deserves to win a medal cause y’all are WILD. I normally go at doors (~5-6 AM), while vendors are still driving in and unpacking because I’m an indoor cat who cannot be outside in the heat for extended periods of time. It’s nice to feel like you’re done for the day and that you’ve seen everything before the masses show up and before the blacktop turns you into a melted pile of goo (I’m usually done by 9/9:30).
Folks tell you to get that the best deals are at the end of the day, but TBH standing in a hot parking lot at 4 PM sounds like my nightmare so I can neither confirm nor deny this. Chime in if you’re an EOD loyalist!!!
Three Final Tips
- Do at least two full passes and change the direction you’re walking on each pass. I like to do a quick run at the beginning to grab any “can’t live without” pieces (WAIT TIL YOU SEE WHAT WE SCORED!) and then when I get to the other end of the flea, I walk back through and do a closer inspection. Oftentimes folks will have art or decor leaning against a side of a car or hidden behind a table, so making sure that you walk through each aisle from both directions will ensure that you’re seeing EVERYTHING.
- If anyone says that a piece is “25” or “45” or “65” bucks, you can almost always just grab it for 20/30/40. I usually just say “I only have 20/40/60, is that okay?” and it’s never failed me. QUICK PRO TIPS, GUYS.
- If you’re going with a friend, make your brunch plan ahead of time. The last thing you wanna do is try to find somewhere to eat when you both have heat exhaustion and can’t even think of what you’re hungry for. Take it from experience 🙂
What We Saw
Without further ado…LET’S GET TO THE GOOD STUFF.
We both fell in love with those special plywood chairs. I sat in one and was pleasantly surprised by how comfortable it was…and then I learned that the pair was $1900 bucks and I was OUTTA THERE.
Next up: THE SCORE OF THE DAY. Jess spotted these saddle leather and iron chairs really early in our trek (for those familiar with the Rose Bowl, we started closest to the road and made our way to the stadium; these chairs were in section V) and we both started hyperventilating as they’re the perfect fit for both of our homes. Rog, the vendor at V05 (she is the best AND she’s there every month, go visit in August!!) quoted us $350 for all four and WE BOUGHT THEM SO FAST – Jess took two and I took two. They’re are in the style of Ilana Goor and if you’d like to match us, this similar vintage set is $880 for two (all-in, we paid $175/each). WHAT A DEAL, RIGHT? (PS. Wildly, this is the SECOND TIME THIS MONTH that we have split a set of 4 chairs. Who needs a friendship bracelet when you can have friendship furniture?)
And lastly, I’m just so partial to iron campaign-style furniture. We saw a few of these chairs scattered around and I always think they’re so beautiful.
These brass giraffes were a steal (usually they’re on Chairish for $3-5k, these were $400 for the small and $600 for the large) but alas, I could not justify spending $600 on a brass giraffe. C’EST LA VIE.
But these mirrors – I did end up bringing these home. I loved the scale (they’re huge – another pic at the end of the post), the mixed materials, and the horses. Originally I was like “oh, yeah, I’ll see if they’re available when I come back” but once Cynthia, the vendor in N09 (just dropping all my favorite spots here, NBD) was like “you can just venmo me,” I was sold. They make me SO HAPPY and I can’t wait to get them shot in my MOTO (Makeover Takeover)!
This turtle lamp was the first thing I saw – his expression was so sweet and the wicker lampshade is awesome. It was $25 bucks and I said that I’d consider it…and then it was still there on my second trip around, so I grabbed him for $20. He’s very cute 🙂
I loved the twisted base of this vintage lamp in the middle – the construction was STUNNING. I’m trying not to get too ~grandmillennial~ in my home so it was a pass, but BOY, it was pretty.
And then we saw not one but TWO popsicle lamps! I took pics of them for Em, since she’s the proud owner of a popsicle lamp of her own. These have such a cool texture and I’d love to see one bringing some soul to a super-modern space.
I’ve been on the hunt for some vintage wall-mounted candleholders (or sconces that I can turn IN to candle holders) and these were so beautiful. I forget how much they were – maybe $40? – and now I kind of regret not bringing them home.
Also loved the shape and color of this vessel. Classic EHD, right? It would work in so many styling scenarios.
This is when I kind of started going off the grandmillenial rails (again, an aesthetic I’m trying to nod towards, vs. an aesthetic that I’m trying to cover my whole home in) and I had to reign myself back in. I’ll always be a sucker, though, for a crystal vessel/dish/bowl/plate – I still have some from my grandma and they’re my favorite.
I also loved the construction of this little container (it was beautiful in person!!!) and it was on a table filled with similarly gorgeous objects, so I’m hoping they’ll be back next month.
And I *WISH* I had a space for this tiny malachite ball lamp. She was SHORT and the proportions were so sweet – if I was a stylist and had infinite hoarding space, this 100% would have come home with me for future bookshelf-decorating purposes.
How cool were these candelabras? Such fun construction, right? The lamp was so playful, too – it kind of reminded me of the Pixar lamp 🙂 I love when pieces have some humor and personality and this one DEFINITELY did. Again, another piece I wish I could have hoarded if given infinite resources.
Jess was eyeing this black table for her balcony MOTO (we’re both still trucking ahead, although at this point, it seems that neither of us will win the race by 7/20, ha) and the price was so good – about $30 – but she decided against it because we thought the scrollwork may clash with the chairs she’s planning to use out there.
And this little table was SO GOOD – I wish you could see more detail on the top, because the veining on the stone (or resin maybe?) was really, really, beautiful. It was such a nice mix of high-end materials and a sweet, modern shape. Jess was noodling on it but ultimately decided to skip because she “didn’t have a place for it yet” and “wasn’t sure where it would go” TBH I think we should all bully her for leaving such a cute piece behind.
These were the two art pieces that stuck out to me – a huge print featuring a reclining women (DM me for photography inquiries, I know that I’m a professional) and this truly WEIRD illustration of a fish writing Moby Dick. At the time I was like “LOL that’s so weird” and now I’m SO SAD I DIDN’T BUY IT. Have thought about it every day since Sunday. Let this be a lesson to buy things that literally spark joy even if they’re a little (or a lot) out there.
Jess’ art taste was a little more refined. We both fell in love with the piece on the left, but the price tag was a little high (I think it was $350). The colors were so lovely and the design was so great, though. I’m blanking on the dealer’s name/spot (he’s in the same place every month and I’ve purchased work from him before) but his curation is SO GREAT. Will update y’all next time 🙂 Jess inquired about that light switch art, too, but ended up deciding against it because it was also $350. The lines were awesome and the framing was in great condition, but it just wasn’t meant to be on this trip. Maybe next time?
What We Got
I had THE BEST DAY, guys. You can see how big those mirrors are in the back – they’re almost 3′ wide by 4′ high – and I also have my two chairs from Jess and I’s split and the turtle lamp from earlier!
My other finds: this AWESOME $20 lampshade – I actually grabbed it while the vendor was still unloading (the perks of being early!) and it technically had a lamp-mate, but they were more than happy to separate them for me. I also grabbed this $40 brass bin (down from $50!) which I’m currently using to corral my mail recycling at the front door, but I could see it working high-end garbage can, shoe bin, etc. I really, really love it. And last but not least: those weird little stone eggs with stands! I spotted the blue one from like 100 feet away – truly, it was like a bird of prey honing in on a meal – and then ended up falling in love with its mate, the brown one with the gorgeous base. All I know is that they’re from Germany and they’re making my bookshelf SO PRETTY now 🙂
Onwards to Jess’ purchases, yeah? First off – I may or may not have coerced her to buy this vintage OG bullet planter. The fiberglass has seen better days but the lines are SO GREAT – especially with Jess’ style – and it was about 1/10th the price it should have been, so it was an awesome score at only $26. The painting was an early find, too, and the composition/texture/framing/color/EVERYTHING is so, so, so great. Jess is such a master of mixing vintage pieces like this alongside work with super modern, graphic lines and I can’t wait to see where this ends up!
After our first trip back to the car to drop off our early spoils (and to pull down the seats so we could load in the mirrors and chairs), we re-entered the flea and walked STRAIGHT into these – they’re super oversized wall-mounted hooks and they’re GREAT. They were on the ground and I didn’t even see them, but Jess spotted them right away. And, I mean, y’all have seen her last place – could there have been a more perfect find? They were affordable at $30 for the pair and the possibilities are endless – gonna be SO GREAT once they’re up on a wall.
Last but not least, this was my absolute favorite purchase of the weekend (and I think it may end up being yours, too). Jess spotted this and was like “what is this” and I said “candleholder” because I saw the hole in the middle, but then the vendor was like “hey give me $20 and you can have the candle holder AND a set of candles.” Jess ended up heading through his set-up and back to his van (truly, fleas are the only place where I’m like “YES GIRL, go crawl around in a stranger’s vehicle!”) and she emerged with THESE TINY CANDLES. Have you ever seen anything like this?! I haven’t. Like, WHAT A FREAKING SCORE. Let this be a lesson to really peek at the smalls (because I’m tellin ya, you KNOW this would have sold for WAY MORE had it been styled like this).
To close it out with some bonus friend content: after the flea, Jess and I drove to brunch at Millie’s in Pasadena where we consumed SO MUCH water/juice/coffee/iced tea/diet coke (yes, ALL of those) before we headed back to her place so I could help bring her chairs up. I ended up doing my back stretches and laying on her floor for a while (because #friendship) and then Jess got back in her car, left her house, drove me back to MY house, and helped me carry all those things upstairs. Before I worked here, I remember reading the blog and being like “there’s no way all these people can be coworkers and still be this close” but ALAS, IT’S TRUE. Can’t believe I have a job where I (a.) landed a really great friend and (b.) am now allowed to write 12 double-spaced pages about my trip to the flea market. Feeling lucky to be able to go outside, lucky for work, lucky for pals, and lucky that you’re here, too 🙂 HAPPY FRIDAY, FRIENDS.