7 Things You Should Never Pass Up At A Flea Market

According to HGTV's Lara Spencer.

Lara Spencer
Courtesy of Lara Spencer

Lara Spencer has a pretty simple method for finding the best buys at flea markets: Go with what makes you gasp. “If something takes your breath away, think twice before you keep on walking,” she says. As the host of Flea Market Flip, Lara spends five months out of the year finding hidden treasures others might overlook, and at this point, she’s become pretty attuned to the pieces that you’ll rave about for years to come.

“We’ll often go to flea markets in upstate Connecticut. [I also] like Brimfield—the mecca of flea markets—to buy things that are then reimagined and sold at New York City flea markets, so I get to see the rustic ‘befores,’ if you will, that are reinvented into ‘afters,’” she explains.

The wow factor is one thing, but if you tend to walk into a flea market and get all heart-eye emoji’ed over everything—or worse, totally overwhelmed and want to shut down—never fear: Lara’s revealing some of the items she’s seen retain their value the best over time. Consider this your cheatsheet.

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1 Pairs Of Club Chairs
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Courtesy of A House In The Hills

"If you're up for the reupholstery project, they're always worth it," Lara says. "Anything in pairs, really, is a good find."

2 Vintage Lamps
whitewash lamp
Shaunna West

Also, when it comes to pairs, if you find a pair of matching lamps, go for it. "Even if they're working just fine, if the lamps are vintage, I highly recommend rewiring them," Lara says. Better safe than sorry.

3 Artwork
image
Natipernavigare/Hearst

"Unless you're a true collector looking for a long-lost Picasso, flea markets are great places to find unique artwork," Lara says, adding that she typically looks for watercolor, oil paintings, and black-and-white photography.

Pro tip: "Art can retain its value and even make you some money. If you have your iPhone on you—and you probably do—look for the artist's signature and use that to look up the artist and get a sense of the piece's value before you buy it," she adds.

4 Anything Hollywood Regency
clawfoot tub
Nathan Kirkman

"Hollywood regency never goes out of style," Lara says, making anything that fits the glam look a safe bet to pick up—especially if you're thinking about reselling it in the future.

5 Mid-Century Modern Furniture
vintage eames chair
Christopher Keller

Mad Men may have been off the air for years, but mid-century modern style isn't going anywhere. Bauman chrome chairs, Eames chairs (like this lounger), and Saarinen designs are particularly sought after. "Platner chairs too, if the upholstery is good," she says.

6 Mirrors
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Anthropologie

A full-size mirror—particularly vintage styles, with a little character to them—can make a room appear more spacious than it is, and at flea markets, they're often going for pretty reasonable prices. Many stand up to years of use better than, say, a rug or chair people are sitting and walking all over, all day, every day.

7 Lucite
Sputnik Light Hanging Over Wood and Lucite Dinner Set
Getty ImagesJohn Edward Linden

That clear, acrylic look appeals to a wide audience and gives any room a modern facelift, making it another one of Lara's go-to's when scouring flea markets.

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