5 Tips for Doing the Rose Bowl Flea Market Like a Boss


Rose Bowl Flea Market Tips: Tips for shopping vintage at any flea market

*goes to Rose Bowl once, becomes expert flea market shopper*

LOL. No, I am not claiming to be an expert in flea markets. Actually, I learned yesterday, I suckkkk at flea markets. I was unprepared in all of the ways, but I did learn a lesson… or 5.

Yah, I got schooled in flea markets yesterday. I was hot, stressed, unprepared, hangry, annoyed, almost passed out, seeking shade every second, & went home without any of the stuff I went there for.

The goal was a rug & a cool chair. I came home with Chanel sweats & a vintage Pan Benatar tee. YES- they are amazing scores & I kinda swiped the sweats out of a chick hands (sorry, not sorry), but that wasn’t the point of the trip at all so I was sorta feeling like a flea market failure.

Next time I will def. be more prepared & armed with a few more tips, but I figured I’d share what I learned from my mistakes so you guys can take on the Rose Bowl Flea Market like a real seasoned PRO… or any flea market for that matter.

Alright alright, let’s do this.

P.S. The Rose Bowl Flea Market, located in Pasadena, is held the second Sunday of every month!

erica stolman tips for the rose bowl flea market

5 Tips for Doing the Rose Bowl Flea Market Right

(from someone who did it very wrong the first time around, experience is life’s greatest teacher!)

I. Timing is Everything

Okay, if you’re getting serious… get there early… but not too EARLY. If you go super early it’s more expensive to get in, & a lot of the vendors aren’t ready for sales… so it ends up being a waste of time really. If you get there around 7:30am, you will be there with the pros… which is fun cause you can kinda trail behind them & see how it’s done.

That said, we got there at 9am & it was also just FINE. I am sure we missed some rad stuff & there was more of a crowd, but it was still plenty overwhelming with treasures all around us.

The other option, if you’re looking for a REAL bargain, is to go end of day when the vendors are tired, ready to go home, & get rid of the most stuff- this is your time to barter, & you will usually get what you want.

II. Check the Weather

I did this the night before, & sadly the weather report was wrong… so I was incredibly unprepared in my long overalls & motorcycle boots. I was hot, uncomfortable, my feet were sweaty, & none of those things make shopping a flea market very fun.

Also, if you get there super early… wear layers & carry a bag. It will start of cool, then most likely get unbearably hot.

NOTHING RUINS A FLEA MARKET QUICKER THAN A HEAT STROKE!!! Trust me… also, the lemonade is bomb so get a huge one while you walk around to keep you cool.

III. Cash Money, Baby

Don’t think the flea market is a place to find a deal. My biggest mistake. I thought I’d find a rad Sarouk/Persian style rug for under $500. WHOA. I was sorely mistaken. The rugs at the flea market are more expensive than anything I had seen online, along with the furniture as well… which is why we didn’t come home with furniture. We were not prepared for those kinda prices (the rugs we liked were upwards of $1500).

Especially now, because everything sold at the flea market is soooo trendy these days. Hanging plants, macramé’s, boho rugs, etc. etc.

Bargaining is expected, welcome, & encouraged… but don’t be a dick about it. I don’t lowball any crazy amount cause I am not looking to insult anyone. I also wait to watch someone else purchase to kinda feel out the vibe of the vendor. You get more bees with honey than you do vinegar, don’t come in all hot… be polite, tell him what you’re willing to pay & meet in the middle.

IV. Compare Prices

OKAY- so after we went home with nothing basically, I took a few photos of items I saw & tried to find them online (Amazon, Craiglist, Etsy, eBay) & was SHOCKED to see a lot of the pieces (or something very similar) were being sold on some those sites for a whole lot less.

Example: there was a velvet tufted armchair being sold for $500 & I found the exact one, same color & everything, on Amazon for $250. I will most likely be getting the one of Amazon.

If you like something, don’t walk TOO far away, but turn your head & do a quick google search to atleast get an idea on if what you’re spending is fair or if you can find it elsewhere for a better price!

V. What to Bring

Ahh, okay… just a heads up, yourself + cash is not enough.

Not even close.

Cash you can at the front, but the charge for the ATM is $5 & you can only withdrawal $200 at a time. Go to an ATM beforehand & withdrawal a good chunk of cash (small bills for bargaining!).

Have a list ready to go, & a budget. It is OVERWHELMING aye efff at the flea market so it’s smart to know what exactly you are looking for in advance. Research online, measure your space, & keep it on hand!

Bring an external battery for your phone, WATER (we had to buy so much water there), sunglasses (Zack forgot his & was miserable), a hat, & load on the sunscreen!

Also, we were so jealous of everyone with their handy little rolling carts. I wouldn’t go back without one, cause we really couldn’t buy anything big as we weren’t equipped to lug it around (although they will hold it for you while you walk around & some will deliver if you’re close by…!).

Lastly, I just thought of this, a MAP of the flea market saved to your phone could be good to prepare your course of action!

Rose Bowl Flea Market Tips: How to shop vintage like a boss

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