How to Shop Flea Markets and Thrift Stores Like a Pro

One of my absolute favorite things in the world is thrift shopping. I can't get enough. I would say that 80% of the furnishings and decor in my home are second hand. And I wouldn't have it any other way. Why? I love character. I love projects. I have kids.

I have gotten pretty good and flea market and thrift shopping, so I am going to share some tips and tricks I have learned along the way.

Tip #1: Scout for shops. Ask around, search online, find great second-hand stores in your area. The Urban Barn in Escondido California is one such amazing spot. If you are in the area, you must go. I don't live in California, but I visit often and this place was recommended to me by local family members. All the photos in this post are from the Urban Barn. {PS, I just like this place a lot, not an advertisement.}

Tip #2: Shop with a purpose. Have something in mind that you want to find. Have a space in your home that you want to fill in mind. Have an idea of items you admire in mind before you go. There is so much out there and it's easy to get overwhelmed when your surrounded by things that could be both trash and treasure.

Tip #3: Don't rush. Thrifting is so fun, you might as well make a day of it. Plus, it's hard to catch a vision when you're in a hurry. This is not to say that I don't run into a thrift store when I have 10 minutes, but it's always better when I take my time.

Tip #4: Take a step back. Sometimes it's hard to envision an item in your home when it's all tangled, maybe even dirty. To be a great thifter you must be able to see an item's potential. Take this mid-century light fixture (below) for example. In the right space, it could be spectacular! In the shop, not so much.

Tip #5: Vintage Brad Pitt is a good thing. This is more of a fact than a tip. ;)

Tip #6: Character is a good thing. Don't worry about matching. Thrifting is about finding beauty in unexpected places and things. Part of the fun of flea market shopping is combining unusual pieces and creating something that you just can't get from Target. Sorry Target, I still love you.

Tip #7: Define your style. I love all things beachy. I love when color pops. I love gold accents. I love glass and sparkle. I love romantic, but not too fancy. I love old wood grain and decorating with milk glass. What do you love? Figure it out and go out there and get ya some.

Tip #8: Overcome your fears. So you buy something at a flea market... it might be great, it might not be. (I'm pretty sure it will be). I have gone thrifting with so many friends who can't get past feeling nervous about taking the plunge and purchasing because they aren't sure what they are going to do with it. If you love it, you can worry about that later (within reason, of course). Just think, if it doesn't work chances are you can sell it or give it as a gift. So don't worry, have fun!

I hope you'll have as much fun shopping as I do!

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