This felt like it was the first officially nice weekend of 2013 and to mark the occasion we spent Sunday morning at Wolff’s Flea Market in Rosemont. The market is held in the parking lots around Allstate Arena and we’d stopped once last year on the way home from Ikea. That visit wasn’t very eventful– it was the height of summer and super hot, plus it was getting on in the afternoon and vendors were packing up so we vowed to come back once the weather got nice again. This time around we vowed to get up early and head out first thing (as parents of a toddler that’s not nearly as daunting as it used to be).
The whole event is a mix of flea market in the way that I always knew them– lots of antique and vintage items mixed in with a fair amount of “junk” to dig through– as well as the version of flea market that I’d only seen when I moved to the city– tables piled high with packages of socks, gently used power tools, woven friendship bracelets and soccer jerseys. I enjoy how strange a combination this can be– you can stumble upon a great vintage light fixture and also try your luck with some recently expired Zyrtec if you happen to be having a allergy attack (like I was).
Allstate Arena is right next to O’Hare so standing in the parking lot feels a bit like you’re on the runway (or in that scene in Wayne’s World). The planes come in super low and loud and each time I have to keep talking myself down– “It’s okay, it’s not actually as low as it seems, it’s not going to land on your head.”
Ben’s new favorite show is Market Warriors, an Antiques Roadshow spin-off where professional buyers go to a flea market and try to flip purchases at auction for a profit. My main takeaway from the show is that it’s super hard to make money buying and selling like that, but it’s also been interesting to witness the negotiating dance that goes on between buyers and sellers. Haggling isn’t something that I’m very comfortable with, it’s just not a practice that I grew up around and for me it feels rude– I’ve had people try to negotiate prices with me when I’ve sold at craft fairs and I find it a little insulting, actually. But I get that in some environments it’s part of the deal– prices are purposely inflated so that if you get lucky, you make a bit more off a newbie, but won’t take offense when a more seasoned shopper asks for you to work with them on the price. So, armed with our best negotiating phrases gleaned from PBS (“What’s your best price on this?”, “Can you work with me on the price?” etc) we went about our visit determined to save a few dollar that we would’ve otherwise paid.
And it ended up working out pretty well– I got to practice being a bit more assertive, get out of my comfort zone a bit and came home saving probably close to 30%. We weren’t in the market for anything big ticket, so that translates to $10 or so, but still, that’s $10 I would’ve paid before and now get to keep!
Here are our finds:
The aluminum folding chair was the big purchase of the day– We don’t have any outdoor furniture so that was the only thing I was actively looking for, and I’m really happy that we stumbled on this. The orang folding coat rack and folk art salt and pepper shakers were the first purchase of the day (another tip gleaned– buy more than one item and you can usually get a better deal) and the Empire State Building pennant, my final purchase of the day was a steal at $3 and in great condition.
All in all, an excellent way to spend a Sunday morning. Got some exercise, some Vitamin D and the opportunity to channel my inner wheeler-dealer. Can’t beat that!