ROSE BOWL FLEA MARKET: FIVE PRO THRIFTING TIPS
i’m convinced flea markets run in my blood. they’re a part of my genetic makeup. finding a good deal is what has driven my ancestors for centuries. okay, maybe i’m exaggerating, BUT i do have the fondest memories of attending swap meets with my grandma, hearing all about her various finds each time we’d visit, + i know that she has had an influence on my own love for thrifting + flea markets. after attending the rose bowl flea for the second time a few weeks ago, i thought i’d collect + share my favorite tips + tricks for getting the most out of your trip with the greatest efficiency!
TIP ONE: DRESS FOR SUCCESS
if you’re going in with the intentions of bringing home a haul of gorgeous thrifted pieces, dress accordingly! i can’t tell you the amount of times i’ve found a gorgeous clothing item to try on, but have been stuck due to my restrictive clothing. if you’re dying for a pair of vintage levi’s, wear a dress or skirt. that way you’re able to try on your finds to 1. ensure they fit while 2. refraining from dropping your pants in the middle of the seller’s stall and/or 3. coming home with a $25 purchase that doesn’t even fit. if you’re looking to purchase some cute worn-in tees, wear a thin top with a cardigan or something of similar nature so you can easily try on your treasures. also, comfortable shoes are the KEY to enduring the miles you’ll walk in search of the perfect pieces.
TIP TWO: BRING THAT SWEET CASH MONEY
in the rose bowl specifically, the vendors inside the stadium usually take venmo, card, or cash. the vendors on the outside [in the parking lot, those selling more antiques + vintage pieces] usually only accept cash. not to mention that the ticket sales are sold cash only as well. while there are usually ATM machines on the premises, the withdrawal fees are excessive + they definitely take advantage of you. grabbing a good amount of cash [or a set amount you’d like to spend - setting limits is always good] before you arrive is the smartest idea in my book. we usually stop by a coffee shop to fuel up + request cash back, killing two birds with one stone.
TIP THREE: COME WITH A GAME PLAN
maybe this just applies to me, but having an idea of what i want my day to look like is extremely helpful. i usually make either a physical or mental list of the items i’m hoping to walk away with, + doing so keeps me focused on the pieces i want + less distracted by the other things that catch my eye because, believe me, it’s sensory overload everywhere you turn, haha! this most recent time i was seeking out a pair of oversized overalls, flair/patches, + vintage black jeans.
TIP FOUR: PAY ATTENTION TO THE DETAILS
this tip stems from something i overheard from someone who appeared to be a seasoned flea market veteran while looking through endless racks of vintage tees. instead of letting the massive amounts of clothing get to you, devote a little attention to the racks. don’t sift through hundred’s of shirts trying to find the perfect one, instead look at the shoulder sleeve of the shirt as it hangs on the rack. can you see the hanger through it? if so, take a peek at it - it might be your perfect thread-bare top. once you find a piece you love, give it a quick overview [especially in the armpit areas] for holes + stains. when you’re looking for denim pieces, check the waistband + leg holes for wear. looking for a specific brand? the denim tags are usually located above the back right pocket + aligned on the rack. the details really do help you narrow down + almost magically find the pieces you’ve got on your list.
TIP FIVE: REMEMBER THAT YOU’VE GOT THE POWER
as the buyer, you’ve got the upper hand! don’t be afraid to haggle the price down [mainly with the outdoor vendors, not those selling their boutique products] or walk away if they are refusing to budge. unless it’s a product you just can’t live without, there’s usually another seller a few rows down that has the same product, or possibly something better, for a more convenient price. you’ve also got the upper hand in comparing prices on various products. for example, many vendors sell plants at the flea market. if they’re selling small succulents for a price you wouldn’t even pay at trader joe’s, it’s not worth it!! keep moving + rest in the fact that there’ll be somebody better selling the same plants for more of a dollar store price. along with plants, denim is sold around almost EVERY corner.
with these five tips, you can’t go wrong! okay fine, maybe you can - because no flea market day is perfect, but these tricks sure help make the day more efficient, organized, cost-effective, + allow you to encounter the best of the best! you’ll make both my grandmother + myself proud :) have you even been to the rose bow flea market? do you have a favorite thrifting spot for finding vintage treasures? if you’re ever in california, hit me up bestie! let’s grab some coffee, some cash, + see what we can find! -m