10 Best Flea Markets for Cool Old Finds

Oh, flea markets and swap meets the way they used to be! Vendors selling used items they no longer needed, and buyers scoring great deals—some requiring TLC, others in mint condition. Sadly, though, many fleas these days resemble dollar stores, stocked with poorly made new stuff. That’s why we combed the country for real old-fashioned fleas, where you can still pick up vintage values to add a distinctive touch to your home. So pencil these into your calendar, and let the bargain hunting begin!

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  1. Rose Bowl Flea Market (Pasadena, California)

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    Some call this huge—and hugely popular—spot the mother of all flea markets, with over 2,500 vendors offering quality vintage wares. You may even rub elbows with Hollywood stars and design show hosts as you poke through the seemingly endless selection of collectibles, vintage furniture, artwork, glassware, and more. These dealers know their stuff, so prices are pretty firm, yet with so much one-of-a-kind merchandise, you’re bound to go home with something that suits your style. For details, check out rgcshows.com.

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  2. Elephant's Trunk Country Flea Market (New Milford, Connecticut)

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    What started in 1976 with a handful of vendors on the front lawn of a Victorian home has evolved into a 55-acre smorgasbord of unique merchandise. Up to 475 dealers exhibit here, comprising approximately 60 percent antiques and collectibles (including toys, furniture, Depression glass, vintage clothing and jewelry, and Art Deco items), 10 percent household, 10 percent new items, and 20 percent mixed wares. No counterfeit/knockoff merchandise allowed! For details, check out  etflea.com.

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  3. Lakewood 400 Antiques Market (Cumming, Georgia)

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    This market may be a tad pricey, located in an affluent North Atlanta neighborhood. Yet with 500 spaces in a 75,000-square-foot, climate-controlled building plus outside veranda and courtyard dealers, you’re sure to find at least one steal among the trove of vintage, antique, and collectible furniture; glassware; signage; jewelry; and more. Lakewood also has on-site repair, framing, restoration, and even appraisal à la “Antiques Roadshow” so you can discover what your treasures are truly worth. For details, check out  lakewoodantiques.com.

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  4. 3 French Hens Market (Morris, Illinois)

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    Part farmers' market, part high-end swap meet, this Euro-style, open-air emporium lies along the picturesque Illinois & Michigan canal. It features more than 130 vendors selling antique furniture, salvaged items, vintage housewares, and crafts, as well as baked goods, artisanal cheeses, flowers, and local produce. For details, check out  3frenchhensmarket.blogspot.com.

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  5. Shipshewana Auction and Flea Market (Shipshewana, Indiana)

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    This midweek wonderland, which began back in 1922 as a humble home business, has turned into the Midwest’s largest flea market. Shop from a whopping 900 vendors on 100 acres of land, who offer everything from farm-fresh produce to handcrafted furniture. Antiques have a place all their own here, with some 100 dealers and a noisy auction where the vying, buying, and selling goes on simultaneously in six “pits.” For details, check out  tradingplaceamerica.com.

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  6. Burlington Antiques Show (Burlington, Kentucky)

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    A true pickers’ paradise, this sprawling market attracts more than 250 antiques dealers—and deal they do, since sellers here seem more than happy to haggle. Scope out all kinds of goodies, including architectural salvage, furnishings from Art Deco to Mission to primitive, antique tools, toys, art, glassware—the gamut! Authentic Southern food and treats are on hand as well to fuel your forays. For details, check out burlingtonantiqueshow.com.

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  7. Brimfield Antique and Collectibles Show (Brimfield, Massachusetts)

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    It happens only three times a year, but more than a million shoppers annually can’t be wrong about this monster market—the nation’s largest—that stretches across 20 fields. If vintage weather vanes, decoys, maritime accessories, Nantucket baskets, and regional furniture suit your home style, you’ll find a lot to choose from. For details, check out brimfield.com.

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  8. Springfield Antique Show and Flea Market (Springfield, Ohio)

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    For true Americana appeal—cross-stitched samplers and calico quilts, farmhouse tables and sturdy rocking chairs—nothing beats this big, bustling heartland market. Both indoors and out, there’s plenty to pick through, and during the three super-size extravaganzas (in May, June, and September), more than 2,500 exhibitors show up with wares. The spot is favored by big-city dealers, who come to stock their shops, and designers known for their traditional taste. For details, check out springfieldantiqueshow.com.

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  9. First Monday Trade Days (Canton, Texas)

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    Jonesing for junk? Then you’ll be in heaven at this hot spot on the outskirts of Dallas. While the Texas-size emporium with a yard-sale vibe does offer a little bit of everything, Western style features prominently. Alas, there is some new merchandise; regulars who love the real old rusty stuff stick to the outdoor areas. For details, check out cantontradedays.com.

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  10. Olympia Weekend Flea Market (Olympia, Washington)

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    In the predictably rainy Northwest, it makes sense to flea indoors; fortunately, this 8,000-square-foot forum is so chock-full of finds you probably won’t notice the roof over your head. It’s located in an industrial area and has a quirky-yet-friendly hipster vibe (think: the cast of “Portlandia”) with its scope of vintage furniture, bric-a-brac, glassware, kitchen items, and more. There tends to be a wide price range, but regulars say they can always find a bargain. For details, check out their Facebook.

    Olympia Flea Market on Facebook

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