It’s a Sunday morning; let’s head to the FLEA!
It’s a tradition in the Habes family. My mother and I live for a sunny Sunday on a crisp fall morning. Our alarms goes off early around 7 a.m., with coffee and a bagel in hand we’re off to Antique World in Clarence, NY, in search of those one-of-a-kind, knock-your-socks-off gems with personality. There’s something thrilling about searching for that perfect piece of vintage furniture, home décor, jewelry, clothing or that oddball piece we know we don’t need…but just have to have!
Treasure hunting is a sport and for those of you who know the game…Buffalo has some of the best, most affordable antiquing around. And what’s even better about the “flea finds” you score is the adventure that goes along with it. The people you meet, the history behind each interesting thing you find. Most of the antique dealers are bona-fide historians and know a thing or two about where they got an item and the history behind it. You’ll see familiar faces each week, along with dealers who breeze through with a truck full of goodness, from a far off place.
Antique World is a vast oasis of vendors from all over the country who flock to WNY’s largest antique and flea market to sell their goods. With a number of buildings filled with indoor vendors and a huge outdoor market open seasonally, you can feed your flea-fix year round.
If you’ve never shopped a flea market before, it can be a bit overwhelming at first. Here are some tips of ours to survive a ‘Buffalo’ flea with style.
1) The Early Bird Catches The Worm
I know it’s a bummer to wake up at 7 a.m. on a Saturday or Sunday, but this is when you really find the good stuff. Remember you are competing with other dealers, vintage shop owners, interior designers and other professionals. With that said there is one advantage of shopping towards the end of the day, dealers don’t want to put that item back on their trucks, and are willing to make a steal of a DEAL!
2) Remember to Hydrate, Caffeinate and Get Something in That Belly
Of course this is something Mama Habes would say…pack a snack. Sifting through tables at the flea takes several hours and a ton of focus to find those epic pieces. Of course Antique World has the typical hot dog and kettle corn stands that will draw you in by the scent alone, but if you want to keep it healthy, I would recommend a good breakfast before.
3) Don’t You Dare Wear Heels
Clarence is basically farmland once you get to Antique World, which means rough terrain. Sneakers are preferred or close-toed shoes. Dress comfortably, this is not a fashion show and vendors can judge you by how you’re dressed. Can we say let’s hike up the price if they see you carrying a designer bag? Yes this happens, leave it at home.
4) Bring Cash and Small Bills.
If you think you can whip out the credit card, you must think you are at the Galleria. If you have just successfully snaggled the price down on a solid wood blanket chest with original strap hinges from the late 1800’s to a ridiculously low agreed upon price, asking to pay by credit card or with large bills could just quite simply kill the deal.
5) What a Funny Word, HAGGLE?
Most vendors are expecting to haggle; it’s what they do. Be polite and ask if they are willing to come down on the price. They usually have an asking price with a selling price in mind. So, don’t be afraid. It’s part of the fun!
6) It’s Just Too Big
Antique World has amazing furniture. From primitives to mid-century modern, you never know what you’ll find. Make sure to measure your space and have an idea of what will work. Heaven forbid you buy something and it just doesn’t fit. Also, think about how you’re going to get it home. Sometimes the vendor will be willing to drop it off for a fee (or free). Ask.
With the holidays just around the corner, think gifting and vintage holiday décor… Who needs replicas from Target when you can get the real thing from the flea market? I just blew your mind. I know. Head to the flea. It will be an adventure. Buy a gift and share that adventure with a friend.
Photos by Katie Ambrose