Flea Market Shopping Tips From Kenneth Brown

Thanks for hanging out with us by video last week, as we scored vintage furniture and accessories at the legendary Rose Bowl Flea Market. With renowned designer and TV host Kenneth Brown as stellar guide, we delighted in our finds and honed our shopping skills.

This Market is massive and we only covered a fraction of its home decor possibilities, but saw more than we shared in the video. Enjoy this slide show of the rest of our hunting fun:

Click on the photo to start or to pause the show. Mouse over the bottom of the photo to bring up the controls. Click the square icon on the bottom right to watch full-screen.

Photographs by Ann Revoredo, Special Defect Media. © 2009 HomeWorkshop.com.

I did some digging since our visit and learned a bit more about some of our purchases:

  • There is intrigue surrounding Curtis Jere, designer of the 70’s brass lamp. Apparently he may not be a real person, but a persona created for marketing purposes (a la Betty Crocker) by the company that produced the work, Artisan House. Here’s an interesting conversation on the topic.

    Nonetheless, the pieces remain valuable and our lamp indeed would have been a steal at $200.

  • The George Nelson Bubble Lamp was designed by Nelson in 1947 for Howard Miller (brother of Herman Miller of furniture fame).

    Production stopped in 1979, but manufacturers are reproducing the popular lamps today.

  • A Google search shows you shouldn’t have a problem throwing your own “Hi-Snack Party,” but you’ll need to search around a bit to find the color palette we did.

What did I enjoy most about our day? All of it. Seriously. Fun people, great design, awesome deals—what more could I want? Oh and from now forward I will be “marinating in” decisions. No more pondering.

Kenneth and I enjoyed a break on this “Blanche Devereaux” sofa. DVR those Golden Girls episodes–Kenneth says Florida sunroom style is on its way back.

Taking a break on the Blanche Devereaux sofa

Last, here are Kenneth’s Flea Market Tips that I promised. Download a printable copy here, and have blast hunting at your local market!

Kenneth’s Flea Market Shopping Tips

1. Keep an open mind when shopping flea markets – the reason we shop them is to find that piece that we don’t know we really need (until we see it).

2. Flea markets are big places; don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to see it all; you might overlook the “goodies.”

3. Bring a friend. Two sets of eyes help us to stay open to finds.

4. When negotiating, instead of offering a price ask the vendor ‘What is the best price you can do?’ You’ll be surprised that they may come down more than you were going to offer.

5. Be polite; it will get you better results than the alternative.

6. Bring a rolling cart (a “flea market cart”), lined with a blanket.

7. Bring some shopping bags to reuse. Wrap them around your purchases to protect from banging around in the cart.

8. You’ll usually get better deals at vendors with a wide range of items, as opposed to those who specialize in one area.

9. If something is a great deal and you are not sure where you’ll use it, think it over first (“marinate in it”) to be sure you really want the item and have a spot for it. Great deals that you have no place for are not great deals after all.

10. Ask vendors if they have anything they have not yet put out. Sometimes they have great deals in the truck that they are saving until later.

11. Educate yourself to be able to spot vintage pieces. For example the quarter sawn wood used in the Mid-Century bench.

12. Bring a small design binder with floor plans and pictures of your existing furniture. Being able to see the furniture piece while shopping helps you visualize the space when you’re in a crazy environment (like a flea market).

13. Bring a tape measure to check that a piece will fit your space and how it will work for storage of certain items.

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2 Comments for “Flea Market Shopping Tips From Kenneth Brown”

Cute blog you have, I came over from Kathy’s blog & this is my first visit. Love your ideas for challenges & shopping the flea markets. I’m passionate about yardsales & flea markets too & love those DIY projects. Hope you’ll come and visit me sometime.

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