Why I Love Flea Markets

  • Published on September 9th, 2010 by
You never know what you’ll find at the flea market…

Reduce, reuse, recycle. How many times have you heard that one? Whatever the case, one of my favorite ways to practice the second “r” is by frequenting the local flea markets. Why buy new when there’s plenty of used items in this world that could use a good home? I am convinced you could get nearly anything you need at flea markets and thrift stores, for a better price (ecologically and economically!), and sometimes, better quality than you could new from the store.

Every month, I visit the local flea market in search of building tools, kitchen supplies, household items, and furniture. The local flea market here (in very rural Missouri) is home to much junk, but among the piles of rust and grit are often overlooked gems. One of my favorite recent purchases was a large 12″ cast iron skillet for $15, which will probably live longer than I ever will. ($15 is actually a pretty super deal, as far as cast iron is concerned.) I’ve found giant wool woven rugs for $13 and under (these things are usually hundreds of dollars), tons of older and very useful hand tools such as axes, hatchets, planes, etc., and all sorts of other valuable items. Most of my construction work has been done with flea market finds, and much of my kitchen is outfitted with flea market wares.

I don’t usually buy things unless I know I have a use for something, and I don’t feel any guilt over buying used items.  And that is why I love flea markets: instead of buying new, I can get the same things used for a much lower ecological cost.

Even if your area may not be home to a standout flea market, consider frequenting garage and yard sales, and thrift and antique stores the next time you are looking for something!

Image credit: theopie at Flickr under a Creative Commons license

About the Author

I'm a 26-year-old currently living at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage in northeast Missouri, an intentional community devoted to sustainable living and culture change. Things you might find me doing here (other than blogging) are building with natural materials, gardening, beekeeping, making cheese, candlemaking, and above all else, living simply. You can read about my on-going natural building projects at: http://www.small-scale.net/yearofmud
  • I love flea markets! Thrift stores have the same sort of magic – I love digging through racks of mumus and horrible 80’s clothes to find the perfect 50’s or 60’s dress.

  • My entire collection of metal-smithing hammers and a good many other tools all came from flea-markets. But in a more suburban area garage and estate sales are more common. If I have a need for something I can almost always find something that meets the need or that I can convert to meet the need. I got a very old, small grinding wheel at an estate sale for about $5 10 years ago and it still works great. 12 years ago I got an aluminum extension ladder for $10 and I still use it all the time….if it ever breaks then I am sure the local metal recycler will give me more than $10 for it.

  • We are huge fans of re-use, re-cycle, re-purpose. We get tons of surplus or used building materials given to us – often for free. There is always someone in our intentional community
    who is checking the ‘free’ ads or freecycle or craigslist, and then there is one couple who love going to garage sales – for years I had a $15 skilsaw I used for really nasty jobs – I finally worked it to death, I’m still using the $10 electric drill.

  • Great post on flea markets! I love flea markets too! You never know what you’ll find out there 🙂

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