Flea Market Success: Top Tips & the Perfect Mini Bag to Carry

Who doesn't love a good flea market?

It's an occasion to find a unique piece for your home, jewelry or vintage clothing to fit your style. Whether it's spring, summer, or fall, it's always an experience. One I have enjoyed several times myself. But alllll the choices can also create a unique sense of overwhelm, which makes it worth having a clear plan before jumping in. 

So, we turned to pro flea market shopper Julie R. who has some excellent tips and the perfect mini bag you should carry with you for a day at the flea!

Flea Market: What is it?

If you've never been to a flea market, you're in for some fun shopping and lots of walking.

A flea market (also called a swap meet) is typically an open-air market outdoors selling second-hand goods or previously owned items to interested customers. It's an event where you can walk around, look at the stock, and discover just the right antique or treasure for a bargain.

mom looking at vendor's selection at flea market

What to Wear for a Flea Market

At a flea market, there are certain essentials you should wear:

Comfortable shoes

As already mentioned, you will do a lot of walking. And you don't want sore feet to slow you down from finding the best antique or having a great time. So wearing shoes that are comfortable for walking, like supportive tennis shoes, is a must.

Your favorite ball cap or hat

Chances are with being outside, you'll be exposed to the sun or passing showers. Wearing your favorite ball cap or hat can protect your head and face from the elements and even help you get out of the house faster to get to the flea earlier (yay, for not styling your hair!)

Layers of clothing

The worst is being too hot or too cold while trying to hunt for bargains. Wear a few layers of clothing you can shed throughout the day. Mornings can be cooler, while afternoons can warm up. So wear that sweater or jacket you can take off later.

*Julie's Pro Tips: *

Dress down and leave the fancy stuff like designer bags, glitzy jewelry, etc at home. Don’t give vendors the impression that you can pay their asking price or higher. 

If you’re into buying second-hand and vintage clothes, wear clothes that are easy to change in and out of. She says “I like to wear dresses in warmer weather to try on clothes underneath and leggings with a tank top under an easy sweater in cooler temperatures so that I can try on clothes over top.” Easily removable footwear is also key.

designer min bags at flea market

Mini Bag Benefits for Flea Market Shopping

Shopping requires a bag to carry all your regular essentials (car keys, cash, ID), and mini bags are a great option to consider.

Small & light to carry

Its smaller size means it doesn't weigh much. You can wear a mini bag like our Kibou Mini bags, and your shoulder doesn't feel weighed down at all (because you can wear it as a crossbody or fanny pack).

Easy access

You have your mini bag right against you, which makes it easy to get to what you need quickly. It also helps to have cash you may prefer to use separate from other money. This is another of Julie’s pro-tips to avoid flashing lots of cash (see more tips below!)


One of the best benefits of all is being hands-free so you can shop and carry several items without having to hold a purse as well.

Waterproof pocket

The Kibou Mini even comes with a waterproof pocket to store wipes and hand sanitizer, which Julie confirms you'll need to clean your hands during and after rummaging through the market. (Items can often be a little dirty and dusty.)

mom looking at selection of vendors at flea market

What to Pack in Your Mini Bag

  • A few ways to pay - cash, credit card, and checkbook (yes, some people still take checks these days!)
  • Collapsible water bottle for water while walking
  • Hand sanitizer, wipes, or both. (Items might be dusty at a flea market. It's part of the thrill of finding hidden treasures!)
  • Measuring tape
  • Cell phone
  • Snack - (You need your bargain-hunting fuel!)
  • Sunscreen - (Nothing worse than a sunburn after a successful day at the flea.)
  • Mini umbrella (Optional - check the forecast before you leave.)

mom shopping at a flea market

More Top Tips from a Flea Market Pro

In addition to what to wear and the best mini bag to take, Julie has more tips and great advice to keep in mind.

  1. Bring cash in smaller notes and coins. Keep it handy (in your Kibou Mini!), and don’t flash it around so that vendors see that you actually do have more than the amount you want to pay.
  2. Keep a list of items that you’re looking for on your phone. Add the specific measurements if it’s for a particular spot in your home (i.e artwork, picture frames, carpets, etc).
  3. Have water and snacks with you to stay hydrated and fresh as you peruse.
  4. Bring tote bags to carry your smaller treasures back home in. 
  5. For larger items, ideally, you have access to a vehicle and a cart to wheel it away. You can often get a better deal on bulkier items if you can take the item away there and then rather than arranging pickup at a later date/time.
  6. It’s fun and helpful to bring a pal to give you an honest opinion slash support with heavier items.
  7. “Know your limit and play within it.” Haggle respectfully. In the best-case scenario, haggling should feel like a game where both parties (shopper and vendor) win.
  8. “The more, the merrier”. If you buy several items from the same vendor, you’ll have better odds of getting a good deal. 
  9. For higher ticket and designer items, ask vendors about the authenticity (i.e documentation, original receipts, etc) to ascertain origin and value. Then decide if it’s truly worth the investment for you. 
  10. “When in doubt, leave it out!” Chances are that you will never like an item as much as the moment you buy it. So make sure you really like it, that way you’ll be sure to get a small rush of endorphins whenever you see it.
  11. Visit a local artisanal market, flea market or thrift store in a different town/city/country. Do some research beforehand and ask locals for their recommendations. It’s a fun way to check out the local scene and bring home a more meaningful souvenir for yourself and/or your loved ones.

Like with most activities, it takes time and practice to improve your flea market “game”. So be patient and stay curious. Happy flea-ing!

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