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Friday, June 5, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Market Moxie Martha Offers A Few Tips Before You Head Out On Your Next Antique-Hunting Adventure

By Martha Stewart New York Times Sy

For anyone who loves flea markets, there is no sight more welcome and wonderful than a wide field filled with tables, each one laden with treasures waiting to be discovered. You can find just about anything - from the finest antique linens to McCoy pottery to collectible lunchboxes from the ‘60s.

There are flea markets in many cities. One of the biggest and best is the Brimfield Antiques Show, in Brimfield, Mass. Three times a year, thousands of dealers set up shop, and nearly 50,000 customers come looking for bargains. The next show will be held from Sept. 2-7. For more information, call (413) 283-6149.

If you’re going to Brimfield or any other flea market, here are some things to keep in mind:

Shop wisely

For some collectors, flea marketing is serious business: They’re in line before the market opens, and they march purposefully from one booth to another, moving on quickly if they don’t see what they’re looking for. This may not sound relaxing, but it is an efficient way to find those elusive pieces - before someone else does.

Other people stroll slowly, allowing themselves to be charmed by something new, while keeping an eye out for the green Depression glass or other items they love.

For novices, attentive browsing is an excellent way to learn. After just a few trips to a good market, you will have gleaned an abundance of information. Once you see five pieces marked “Roseville,” for example, you will get a sense of that pottery’s style. When you come across the sixth one, you may be able to identify it without looking at the tag.

Dealers are usually very knowledgeable about the pieces they sell and happy to discuss them. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

It does take some practice to tell the jewels from the junk, so don’t spend too much money until you have developed your eye. But trust your instincts. Some of the best collections are born by chance, by the spur-of-the-moment desire to own a fabulous chenille bedspread, antique typewriter or lustreware teacup.

It’s always wise to arrive early for the best selection. However, at the end of the day, dealers may offer unbeatable prices.

Know how to bargain

Dealers expect people to bargain. If you politely ask, “Can you do any better than this?” the price will often be reduced by 5 percent to 15 percent. If you insult a dealer with a very low offer, however, he or she will not be particularly inclined to offer a discount.

To get the best price, try not to be overly effusive about your love for an item before asking the cost. When the dealer knows you’re serious, the price is more likely to remain firm.

If you’re sure you want an item, don’t play games. Put your hand on it and keep it there while you discuss the price with the dealer. According to the unwritten rules of flea-marketing etiquette, a person touching an object has first claim to it.

Be prepared

Avoid frustration, disappointment and discomfort by preparing properly for a day at the flea market:

Dress appropriately. Comfortable clothes and shoes that can get dirty are crucial. You may be on your feet in a dusty or muddy field for hours without a break.

Wear sunscreen and a hat to keep the sun off your face. If it’s a cool day, wear a sweater, light jacket and scarf instead of a heavy coat; layers allow you to adjust to changing temperatures. Bring a tote bag for carrying small purchases.

Bring cash. Many dealers accept checks but may offer a discount if you pay in cash. Make sure you have some one- and five-dollar bills for little purchases. Early in the day, a dealer may not be able to make change.

Make lists. Faced with so many choices, it’s easy to lose your focus, completely forgetting the specific things for which you have been hunting. Write them down, and refer to the list as you shop. If you don’t find something today, keep the list for the next time.

A small notebook and a pen come in handy too. You can tuck dealers’ business cards into the notebook and record prices, as well as names and descriptions of new pieces that interest you.

If you’re shopping for furniture, make sure you know the sizes your home can accommodate. Bring a tape measure with you - you don’t want to find out your new armoire won’t fit through the door. Paint chips and fabric swatches will also help you make confident choices.

If you’re traveling a considerable distance, think about renting a van or truck to help you get big pieces home safely.

The opinion of a trusted friend is a valuable asset, so I never go to flea markets alone. The ideal shopping partner is the one who gently dissuades you from making unwise impulse purchases - and doesn’t collect any of the same things you do.

MEMO: Questions should be addressed to Martha Stewart, care of The New York Times Syndication Sales Corp., 122 E. 42nd St., New York, N.Y. 10168. Questions may also be sent to Stewart by electronic mail. Her address is: mstewart@marthastewart.com.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Martha Stewart New York Times Syndicate

Questions should be addressed to Martha Stewart, care of The New York Times Syndication Sales Corp., 122 E. 42nd St., New York, N.Y. 10168. Questions may also be sent to Stewart by electronic mail. Her address is: mstewart@marthastewart.com.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Martha Stewart New York Times Syndicate

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