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Bargain At Its Best

Friday, March 20, 2015

If buying something unique at rock-bottom prices gives you a kick, you may have an itch for a flea market! Rhea Dhanbhoora & Yamini Walia give you an insight into the world of flea markets

Shopping at flea markets can be quite exciting. With great bargains and unique finds, it gives you the thrill of finding something perfect. It also gives you a good reason to travel and learn about the culture of the countries you will be visiting. But, deciding what to pick and what not to buy can prove to be a little overwhelming. Here we take a look at some of the best flea markets in the world, and give you a few tips that you should keep in mind when you’re shopping at flea markets.

Flea markets around the world
If you have a passion for shopping while travelling, then you must take note of these popular flea markets around the world.

Bermondsey (New Caledonian) Market, London
Bermondsey market, one of London’s main antiques market, attracts early-rising dealers from across the city and is a Mecca for collectors. However, make sure to reach there early because the stalls are set up by 9am! The area also has several antique shops that remain open for the entire week.

San Telmo Antiques Fair, Argentina
San Telmo Antiques Fair has stalls brimming with antiques, trinkets, costume jewellery, vintage movie posters and artwork. If you enjoy tango music, then this market will surely delight you as San Telmois is known for its tango music. You’ll come across several street bands and dancers performing impromptu numbers. The market — open only on Sundays — is set up at 10am and shuts at 5pm.

Brimfield Outdoor Antiques Show, Massachusetts
Brimfield is the largest outdoor flea market in the world, running for an entire week and featuring over 5,000 antique and collectible dealers across 23 defunct farm fields. It is revered by shoppers and dealers alike for its size and the wide range of merchandise. The market has everything you need — furniture, photographs, new and second-hand clothes — at rock-bottom prices. The six-day show takes place three times a year, in May, July, and September.

Rose Bowl Flea Market, California
The Rose Bowl Flea market features over 2,500 vendors and is the place to find pop culture artefacts such as a Monkees lunch box or a Wheel of Fortune pillow, along with surfboards, record collections and lawn artefacts. This huge market opens its doors to VIPs at 5am, while layabouts can get in for Rs 950 at 7am and the rest of the crowd can enter after 9am. The flea market sets up on the second Sunday of every month.

127 Corridor, Alabama
This market is regarded as the world’s longest yard sale, as it stretches for hundreds of miles on the highway between Hudson, Michigan and Gadsden, Alabama. Countless vendors — ranging from families selling goods on their lawns to professional vendors who rent an empty lot, park or field — sell antiques and oddities. The flea market takes place for four days in August every year.

Nights to remember: Strolling through the world’s best markets
It’s nearing midnight and you’re strolling through the streets, when suddenly you’re treated to the smell of delicious fried food wafting through deserted lanes. You can hear the pleasant, familiar drum of voices bargaining for wares nearby. Follow the sounds and smells through the alleys, and you are no more in the dark of night. You find yourself squarely in the midst of a colourful market, illuminated by bright bulbs and prettily strung lights. But, it’s past midnight! That’s the charm of night markets — the fact that they take place at an hour when most things are shut and people are tucked away in bed. It’s like being privy to a delicious, bargain-friendly secret! So, we’re letting you in on the secret, by telling you about some of the best night markets that the world has to offer.

SHILIN NIGHT MARKET, Taipei
This is one of the biggest night markets in Taipei and is definitely a great place to head to. Don’t forget to eat the food while you’re there. Walk around the market to pick up affordable clothes and jewellery from the vendors around the market. From fried chicken steak to oyster omelets and pearl milk tea (you really have to drink it to understand it), there’s a host of options for culinary enthusiasts.

MARRAKECH NIGHT MARKET, Morocco
If you’re looking for some great shopping options, this Moroccan market is the perfect place. Travel here if you want to walk through winding lanes; because there are several streets, where you’ll find food stalls and shops that are open till sunrise. Handicrafts are a steal along with dry fruits such as dates.

PETALING STREET, Kuala Lumpur
You should check out this gorgeous market in Malaysia if you’re looking for a colourful and stylish night market experience. If you can’t afford designer bags there’s good news for you — the market has some of the best knock-offs in the area. Fashionistas can indulge in scarves, and, if you love to cook, you should definitely pick up the heady spices sold at the tiny stalls.

TEMPLE STREET, Hong Kong
One of the main attractions of this market is that it’s lit up through the night and looks really pretty — of course what it offers is also tempting! There’s a great variety of goods available here, but beware because it can get really crowded. One of the best things to eat or pick up for later is the salted fish. The dried fish makes for a delicious snack and is one of the best known items at the Temple Street market. The market is filled with crowds, noise and offers lots to see and do — so take care of your belongings. Haggle when you’re picking up clothes and knick knacks and you’ll get some amazing deals!

TEKKA MARKET, Singapore
This market is in a place called Little India in Singapore, so you can imagine the sort of wares that are sold here as well as the kind of atmosphere that surrounds it. The colours, lights and sounds are comforting, fun and quirky at the same time. We suggest simply walking around and listening to the interesting stories that are told by vendors. If you’re looking for massage oils, Ayurvedic products and natural remedies, this is the perfect place to visit. You can also pick up wholesome food items such as raw meat and fish. Jasmine is one of the most popular flowers at the market so remember to pick up a garland or two to take home with you.

VICTORIA STREET MARKET, South Africa
One of the reasons that we love this market so much is because of its historical significance. It opened in the year 1910 and was designed as a palace, so you can imagine how pretty it is to visit! If you’re in the city as a tourist, you know that walking around late at night is not really advisable in South Africa. However, visiting this market gives you the perfect opportunity to do just that and see the city of Durban at night. Pick up traditional South African wares from the market, including masks, clothing and spice bars. You can also snack on some delicious seafood here.

AUDRIX NIGHT MARKET, France
France is not particularly known for its markets, but this one is so much fun that it makes it to our list of the best around the world. The Audrix night market is one of the most stylish markets that you will ever visit. There’s a big focus on food at the market, so expect to be treated to really good meat, nuts and, of course, French wine. The entire market is prettily done up, so make sure you spend some time walking around it as well.

QUEEN VICTORIA MARKET, Melbourne
Queen Victoria has lent her name to quite a few markets, and this one is no less spectacular than the others. It’s one of the best places to go at night, though it’s called the Suzuki Night Market after dusk. The best part about the market is that it’s more than just a night market, since it’s open during the day as well. What sets this market apart from the rest is the fact that it is less like a shopping area and more like a party! So get ready to indulge in some great drinks and really good food. Don’t forget to gel with the locals while you’re here — communication is key to getting the complete night market experience.

CAMDEN LOCK MARKET, London
The Sunday flea market is the essence of life in England, but night markets are coming up as a really big part of the community there, especially in London. So, you can rest assured that Camden Lock is one of the best in the world to head to. The best part about the market is that while you get good food and drinks, you’ll also be able to shop for art and furniture. But steer clear of the market on weekends — there are so many people here that it will be difficult to find space to wiggle through. The USP of this market is not the shopping or the evening, but the fact that you can spend the night watching some really good concerts there.

Tips for shopping at a Flea Market
While shopping at flea markets may sound like a lot of fun, you still have to keep a few things in mind. Here are a few tips to help you.

Check for damage
While picking up items at a flea market, this is the most important rule. Make sure you check thoroughly for torn seams, rust and rotting wood. You’ll want to avoid anything that is going to affect its usability or break under the slightest pressure.Also, look out for signs of an insect infestation.

Look for a label
Whatever you purchase at flea markets, always check the label. This will help you distinguish a real antique from a knock-off. Of course, that’s  not all. Checking for original details such as the logo, will also help you make the distinction.

Smell it
Umm.. a little sniff is always helpful, even in a flea market! This will ensure that what you buy doesn’t overpower your senses once you bring it indoors.

Time it well
At a flea market, the key is to be aware of the perfect timings. Serious shoppers tend to come out early, so all the good items are usually over by afternoon. On the upside, once the market about to shut, sellers tend to slash prices and are more open to bargaining.

Craftsmanship is the key
Dovetailed joints, hand-stitched seams and solid hard wood are all indicators of good quality and craftsmanship. Looking for these signs can help determine an item’s value and will let you know if a piece is worth investing in.

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