Sunday, November 04, 2007

Off to the Market

Kane County Flea Market, that is! Saturday, en route back to Chicago from visiting friends in Milwaukee (we found out that this was even less en route home than we thought), we thought we'd stop by the Kane County Market. We had heard good things.

The Flea Market happens the first weekend of every month in St. Charles Illinois and attracts sellers from all over. (The ones I noticed included Minnesota and Wisconsin, at the least). The market was much larger than we anticipated. Countless times we would say, oh, lets go down that row, (expecting a quick turnaround) to find at the end of the row basically another football field full of vendors. (or so it seemed). In our quick little "run through," we were there for 3 hours. They have a combination of sellers out in the open, inside permanent buildings and underneath large tents. The permanent buildings are usually used for the county fair, and include names such as sheep 1, sheep 2.

I'm sure that every month the sellers change a bit. This time around we saw a bunch of jewelry (some older and vintage coupled with newer stuff), vintage light fixtures, tools, antique hardware, stained glass, garden planters and decorations, and random older items (such as vases, knick-knacks, dishes, toys (beanie babies and antiques), and cash registers). Pretty much everything. Sprinkled in with all the vintage sellers, were (1) food vendors (including baked potatoes, popcorn, hotdogs/hamburgers, ice cream, apple cider and apples); and (2) newly made items including dog treats, sweaters, garland and Christmas decorations, quilts, among other items.

There were a number of furniture vendors including some antiques, antique furniture that had been refinished, new furniture, and a personal favorite, new furniture made from reclaimed wood. There was a fair amount of furniture that looked to be well made, but very affordable. It seemed like a great place to go if you needed to get something solid. We saw a mahogany table, with 6 chairs for $200.

Before you go:
1. Make sure you bring a vehicle appropriate for your purchases. If you are looking for furniture, a truck or van would be a great idea. (and we saw a lot of them in the parking lot).
2. If you think you may buy something, bring a shopping cart. We saw a number of people with the folding shopping carts you would see in the city. (clearly they had come before) It makes that puchase decision all the easier.
3. Wear comfortable shoes.
4. Have an idea about what you want. There's a lot of ground to cover in a relatively short time. It would be a lot easier if you knew that you wanted a nightstand, or something to put on your living room wall, or vintage toys. It's hard to look at everything at once. I saw a lot of "neat" items that I didn't have a place for.
5. Remember it's a market not a brick and mortar store. That being the case, haggling is the game. Sure, a lot of items have prices but unless it says "firm price" it isn't.
6. The Antiques Roadshow advice. (I remember this from an episode they had showing how to navigate a flea market). Talk to the seller-get a sense of what he/she is saying is true, and whatever he/she might know about the particular item. Buy what you like and don't necessarily buy what you think you can sell to make money. Sure, there are those finds-hidden in the rough items that will sell big at auction. However, there are a lot of items out there that you may think would be worth money, but aren't. If you are looking to really make money, know what you are buying.

Oh, yeah, we didn't get anything. We didn't know enough about stuff we may have been interested to know if items were reasonably priced and are stuffed to our gills in our house as is. We weren't opposed to getting anything-just nothing jumped out as a "must have this." (plus, that long walk back to the car didn't encourage us to buy anything). But, we had fun, and that's what's important.



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