Ever heard that phrase “everything old is new again?” Well, we like to say that everything old is actually cool again, thanks to our passion for vintage décor and quirky secondhand finds. Blame it on reality TV shows like American Pickers and Pawn Stars or songs like Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ “Thrift Shop,” but it seems everyone we know is looking to unearth an apparent bargain-bin castoff that’s actually a one-of-a-kind treasure.
Maybe that’s why flea markets, once the territory of hipsters, antique shop owners, and bargain-hunters everywhere, have gone decidedly upmarket and mainstream. These gatherings bring together enterprising vendors eager to show off their wares and buyers happy to wade through mountains of miscellany to find the scarf or bookend or chaise lounge of their dreams.
Have a browse through our own picks for America’s top vintage and flea markets, then brush up on your negotiating skills. You’ll need ’em — plus a little patience — to track down the ultimate gem, baby.
Cold weather means cool antiques in Center City, where this market is held on the first and third Saturdays of the month from November through March. The emphasis is on high-end goodies here — less bric-a-brac, more objet d’art — which sets it apart from Philly’s many thrifty flea fests. You’ll need hours to properly relish the hunt with so many square feet of gorgeous old furniture and sumptuous vintage threads. With a rotating cast of some 60-plus vendors, the quarry is always fresh and exciting.
Don’t Miss: The chance to treasure hunt in comfort; the winter venue is heated and features permanent dressing rooms, a rarity on the market circuit.
Every other weekend, South Florida’s premier antique/collectible market takes its rightful place amid the bustle of Lincoln Road, a famed shopping hotspot. The focus is on early/mid 20th-century swag, so take your parents or grandparents along for a bit of expert advice. Bring a parasol, something cool to drink, and your A-game … there are about 125 vendors at this thriving event.
Don’t Miss: Unparalleled people-watching from the sidelines of the vast Lincoln Road market. Miami claims it has the best-looking “antiquers” in the country, so whether you are observing or participating, you’re a guaranteed winner.
Three times a year, one of the Northwest’s most festive vintage markets rolls into town. While heavy on the zany — those intimidated by people in tutus should skip this one — this fest has earned serious snaps for both the quality and quantity of its wares. These organizers are committed to their junk. They cast a wide net, from London flea markets to Parisian brocantes, in search of antique morsels that surprise and delight … and they have a blast doing it. You’ll have just as much fun finding that perfect treasure to bring home.
Don’t Miss: The adjacent Oaks Park amusement park, where you can play some miniature golf, roller skate, or just drop off family members or traveling companions who don’t share your thrill for the hunt.
This market may have a little less than two years under its belt, but you won’t find any signs of growing pains at San Diego’s only vintage flea market. More than 80 vendors routinely show up in the parking lot behind the historic North Park Theatre, meaning variety is outstanding. Everything from antique tchotchkes to glorious old-school glamwear is up for grabs. You’ll flip for the combo of diverse, plentiful wares (from fin de siècle to Mid-Century modern) and laid-back, SoCal charm.
Don’t Miss: A feisty mix of rockabilly/burlesque-inspired goods amid highbrow vintage goods. This is California, after all — were you expecting the traditional?
Antiquing isn’t just a hobby in Chi-Town — it’s a way of life. Accordingly, the Randolph Street Market Festival is the kind of all-consuming vintage market that overwhelms in the best possible way. It’s huge, to say the least. There are three distinct markets within the Randolph megaplex: Chicago Antique Market, the Indie Designer Market, and Modern Vintage Chicago. Whether you seek priceless, very old delights or newer treasure, you’ll have no trouble uncovering it. The next dates are Oct. 17–19, Nov. 21–23, and Dec. 12–14.
Don’t Miss: The music and the noshes. Live music and yummy food are as much a part of the Randolph experience as the antiques themselves.