A Day At The Market

from Simply Perfect Garden Living
Finding the perfect addition to your lawn and garden décor can be a true treasure hunt, so learn to shop the markets with savvy.



So you want to find the perfect antique chair for the corner of your porch? Or you need a planter to set on the patio? Hit the markets!

These tips will get you started so your treasure-hunting expedition will be both fun and successful. Learn what to wear and what to bring as well as how to get the best deal you can without offending the seller.

Happy Hunting

  • Know what you are seeking before you go to a show. Do research before shopping, so you know what to expect in regard to price and item quality.
  • Start shopping early in the day, before crowds show up.
  • Take time to look at everything for sale. Often you'll find the real treasures hidden behind everything else.
  • Keep in mind antiques are not always cheap. People are willing to pay a lot of money for high-quality products. Don't insult the credibility of a dealer by questioning the worth of an item. If you have doubts about its value, ask about its history to determine its worth.
What to Wear
  • Old clothes.
  • Jacket. It may be chilly in the morning, so it's wise to dress in layers.
  • Comfortable shoes. You'll be on your feet all day.
  • Hat and sunscreen.
  • Poncho. Many shows go on even in rain. Sometimes you can get the best deals in poor weather because the crowds thin.
  • Limited jewelry. Displays of wealth discourage bargaining.
  • Money belt or hip pack to keep keys and cash safe.
  • Backpack to keep your hands free.
What to Bring
  • A pair of gloves.
  • Tape measure. You don't want to get home to find your purchase won't fit in the intended space.
  • Magnifying glass.
  • Flashlight.
  • Map of the area.
  • Camera. Take pictures of items that interest you.
  • Illustrated guidebooks, such as The Garage Sale & Flea Market Annual, that list manufacturers marks and prices.
  • Lunch and snacks. If you re a serious shopper you want to shop over the lunch hour when others take time to eat.
  • Water bottle. You don't want to become dehydrated. (There's no time for a water break when you are haggling over the price of a perfect piece for your garden room.)
  • Cash (personal checks and credit cards usually aren't accepted). For the best deals, nothing beats cash.
  • Bag. You'll need somewhere to stash your smaller newfound treasures.
  • Bug spray.
Lingo and Etiquette
  • "Will you take $- for this?" is an acceptable question at garage sales, but the amount must be reasonable.
  • "Is this your best price?" or " Is that a firm price?" are better questions for an antiques dealer. Neither buyer nor seller should be embarrassed, and 75 percent of the time you can, in fact, get a
    better buy. Purchasing multiple items may bring a better price for the entire lot.
  • "Firm" on the price tag means the dealer must receive that amount.
  • "But I saw one just like this one on the other side of the market for half this price!" Then go buy that one; don t expect the second dealer to change his or her price.
  • "Is this actually old?" Whether you mean to or not, you are questioning the dealer's integrity. If you doubt the age of a piece, ask, "Can you tell me about its history?"
  • " What is your source for this stuff?" Sources are closely guarded secrets; at best, expect a vague answer to this unwise question.
  • "Gee, my grandmother had one just like it." Dealers hear the phrase so much, they ignore it.
  • "What a wonderful collection you have." Usually an exit line, this statement often comes from a tire kicker who has no intention of buying. Don't be suprised if you don't get a response from the dealer.
  • “How much is my [personal item] worth?” Collectors often bring a box of items along, looking for off-the-cuff valuations. Some dealers bite; others want to concentrate on selling rather than buying. Tread lightly.
  • “Can you hold it until the end of the day?” A dealer will be happy to hold an item if you want to pay for it right away; otherwise, it’s still for sale.


What's Hot

Check our list to discover what the most popular market finds are right now. If your heart is set on getting something on this list during your next outing, prepare for some serious competition from other market-goers. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes, too, because you might spend long hours deciding exactly which piece to take home.


  • Outdoor furniture, particularly seating
  • Cast-iron lawn sprinklers in animal and other shapes
  • Gardening hand tools
  • Bug sprayers and old hand-pump sprayers
  • Garden structures (gazebos and trellises)
  • Fencing
  • Urns and planters
  • Kitsch, such as garden gnomes, angels, and pink flamingos
  • Fountains
  • Traditional statues and sculptures
  • Birdbaths and birdcages
  • rench accessories (jardinieres, wine racks, baskets, barrels,
    statues, metal flower sculptures, lanterns, and urns)
  • Natural elements (tree-root sculptures and rock
    sculptures)
  • Painted floral mirrors
  • Asian and Chinese garden objects (lanterns, pagodas,
    bridges, stepping-stones, statues, and bamboo water spills)
  • Iron and cast-stone pieces
  • Watering cans
  • Architectural salvage, such as old edging and fencing



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•Designing for Outdoor Living
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