The joy of flea market shopping is serendipity: most used items for sale are unique, so wares will usually be different on any given excursion. What will be found, for sure, are sound deals on antiques (or semi-antiques), collectibles, furniture and housewares, clothing, and sometimes produce and prepared food items.
Buffalo has a plethora of flea markets within city limits as well as in suburbs and towns that are each accessible on jaunts of 30 minutes or so. The following six flea markets are distinctive based on location, offerings, and how many vendors do business onsite. Some are open year-round but have limited stall action until the warmer months of the year. Some are always open-air and feature goods and goodies from local farms. Some are mostly, or partially, indoors and have the amenity of climate control.
Here are a few tips for those less familiar with shopping at flea markets. Do wear comfortable shoes and clothing that you would wear to a picnic, or another non-fussy, outdoor activity: places and objects for sale can be dusty, and markets happen regardless of seasonal showers. Be prepared to lug larger objects by bringing a friend, or inquiring about drive-up service for loading paid-for objects: if you’re shopping for something large, plan on bringing a dolly, or hand-truck. Bring negotiating skills: seemingly all prices are negotiable, and most vendors are willing to make a deal.
Organized and open-air, Clinton-Bailey Farmers & Flea Market is equal parts produce, plants, and flea market items. It’s located at 1442 Clinton Street between Bailey Avenue and Hubbard Street. Look for the flea market tables along the concourse underneath the open-air, roofed structure. This market has operated non-stop since its founding in 1930 by Niagara Frontier Growers Co-operative Market, Inc. Area wholesale buyers hit the market every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, when the market gets underway at 4 a.m.: this part of the city is known as a food hub with other produce purveyors and markets nearby.
The market is open year-round for its two seasons: summer (May 1-November 1, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.), and winter (November 1-April 30, Saturdays from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m.). The bustling, friendly flea market, located on the west side of the market footprint, happens on Saturdays and Sundays: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. during the summer, and 8 a.m.-3 p.m. in winter. Expect to see just about anything for sale: shoes, bicycles, collectibles, and curiosities. A recent vendor proudly displayed vintage Cabbage Patch Kids for sale. Note that the food and flea vendors occupy separate areas; some farmstands refer to the flea market vendors as “junk sellers” but everyone knows that flea market finds are in the eyes of the beholders.
East Aurora Flea & Farmers Market is a large one, with just over one hundred indoor and outdoor permanent and seasonal vendors selling treasures out of storage bays, and on tables set up throughout the property. The rambling parking lot’s vending tables feature the usual assemblies of flea market items, seasonal produce, and plants. There are seasonal onsite food vendors and seating – always a flea market bonus.
Located along Big Tree Road (that doubles as Route 20A), the you-can’t-miss-it flea market building with huge red letters and green metal roof is just off of Thorn Avenue. The flea market operates on Saturdays and Sundays, year-round, from 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Also operating on the premises are the adjacent Antique Mall, and an Auction Gallery.
Every Sunday The Peddler, a flea and art market, takes over the parking lot of Parish Commons, an upscale commercial-residential building at the corner of Elmwood Avenue and West Ferry in Buffalo’s Elmwood Village. Vendors sell everything from classic vinyl, gently-worn clothing, original artwork, and vintage objects and furnishings.
This flea market is weather-dependent and won’t happen if there is a big rain, and its season begins usually in April or May once the temperature is 55º or higher. The market shutters when snowflakes begin to flutter down. Pre-browsing, do check out The Peddler Facebook page where some vendors will preview what they’ll have on their tables. Hours for this friendly, robust, diverse flea market are from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Gentner Commission Market is a longtime, family-run, action-packed outdoor flea market and live auction with the look and feel of a miniature county fair. It’s a place of commerce, neighbors catching up, browsing and wandering, and people grabbing a bite and eating on outdoor tables.
Since 1939 “Gentner’s” (pronounced as Get-ners, a Springville native instructed) has held their twofold flea market on Wednesdays from 7 a.m.-2 p.m. There are traditional flea market tables set up as well as a roving flea market auction with bidders following the auctioneer on duty to the many eclectic lots laid out on the ground. Live auctions begin at 9 a.m. and bidders must register to get numbers, from the office window on the grounds near the dining area. Later in the day livestock is auctioned off; previews of the poultry and penned, four-legged animals are possible in the bright red barn.
Express Flea Market is an indoor-outdoor flea market with dozens of stands of vendors selling typical pre-owned goods, handcrafted items, and new household and fashion products. There are several stalls selling African imports: traditional clothing as well as decorative pieces like wooden masks and statues.
The year-round market has a large parking lot where some vendors set up outdoors, seasonally – indoor shopping is climate-controlled. Express Flea Market is located on Fillmore Avenue north of East Delavan Avenue, south of Kensington Avenue, and across from Glenny Park. Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays, Express Flea is open Thursday-Monday and on key flea shopping days (Saturday and Sunday) the market is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
There are acres and acres of finds-in-waiting at Antique World and Flea Market, located in Clarence on Main Street/Route 5. This roving market got started in 1981 and, with food vendors onsite, is a fun, year-round destination. Things are at full-tilt during late spring and summer months with hundreds of flea vendors selling outdoors.
The flea market (outdoors and in the flea market building) takes place Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Expect to see new and used objects, furniture, antiques, and collectibles. On Sundays, in April through October, Antique World charges a buck to park. It’s fun to wander through adjacent Antique World, packed with more flea market items, and antiques collected by Antique World founder Kelly Schultz. Note that this portion of the business is closed on Wednesdays. A bonus attraction in autumn is the Great Pumpkin Farm next door; it runs from mid-September through Halloween, and is also owned by Schultz.