Flea market shopping tips as Randolph Street Market returns to Chicago

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Flea markets are great places to hunt for bargains, spend time with family and discover hidden gems. One of Chicagoland's popular spots is the Randolph Street Market. On July 26-27, you can meet an international professional shopper there to get flea market shopping tips.

Toma Clark Haines, founder and CEO of The Antiques Diva & Co. European Tours, an antiques sourcing company, came into our ABC 7 Eyewitness News studio to share tips. Haines shops for a living to help clients buy antiques abroad in places such as Paris, London and Milan. She suggests that serious buyers should come prepared to shop at the flea market.

Randolph Street Market
July 26-27
10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Early buy: July 26, 8 a.m.
1350 W. Randolph St., Chicago
General admission: $10 at the gate, students with ID $3, $5 at the gate
Children 12 and younger: Free

Haines' tips for finding flea market deals:

1. Come prepared.

  • Bring your own tote bag to carry purchases.

  • Extra plastic bags can be used to wrap breakables.

  • Bring plenty of cash in small bills.

  • Have a tape measure.

  • Bring a pack of handy wipes - antiquing is dirty work.

  • If you're looking for a specific room in your house, bring paint and fabric swatches.

  • Wear sunglasses, but hope for rain and pack an umbrella. Vendors are more likely to bargain in the rain because they have fewer customers.

2. Cash is king.

  • Some flea markets now take credit cards, but you'll always get the best price when paying cash.

  • A lot of people find negotiating difficult. A polite way to ask for a discount is to say, "Is this the best price?" Also offer the price you're willing to pay. "This is marked $75. Will you take $50?" But be reasonable. Don't insult the vendor by offering too little.

  • Bundle. The more you buy from one vendor, the better the price becomes.

3. Do not act disinterested.

  • Antiques dealers tend to do their job because they love what they sale.

  • Ask questions, be interested.

  • Be friendly.

  • Don't be afraid to flirt.

  • But also be willing to walk away if the price isn't right.

  • Set in your mind the price you're willing to pay before the vendor gives you the price.

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