Ok, here are my techniques for getting a good deal at the flea market. Hopefully you'll find them helpful. :)
1. First of all, I haggle. The vendors expect it. The ones that completely refuse to go down on their prices usually don’t get my business. Plus it’s really fun.
2. It never hurts to ask. If something’s not priced and I think it could be a little out of my price range, I ask anyway. Sometimes I’m shocked at how low their price is.
3. Offer a price you think is fair. Again, it never hurts to ask. They just might take it.
4. I go often. The more I go the more I’m familiar with average prices on the items I’m looking for so I can spot a steal (or a rip-off).
5. When I’m looking for something in particular, I’m very stubborn and patient. I spend a few weeks (or seasons, in some cases!) pricing the item I’m interested in and wait until I find it at a really great price.
6. Sometimes it’s good to walk away. I've had vendors call me back and accept the price I offered them (after they turned it down at first).
7. I try to control myself when I’m really excited about spotting something I love. I ask about a few other things first. I've found that if they know I love something they’re less willing to go down on the price – they assume I’ll pay their price because I love it.
8. I don’t ask them if they can go any lower on a price. Usually when they give a price it’s still a bit too high for me (um, I’m really cheap). Instead, I give them a price that I’m willing to pay.
9. I show them the money! If I think they might be unwilling to haggle, I like to have the exact amount out and in my hand when I name my price. It seems like they don’t say no as often when they can see it.
10. But I make sure they don’t see all my money… if they see a couple of $20’s I don’t think they would negotiate as much.
11. I bring lots of singles. If I ask if they’ll take $3 on something priced $5, I wouldn't hand them a $5 bill.
12. If I see something I liked but the vendor turned down what I offered, I go back to it later in the day. They may be willing to negotiate so they don’t have to bring it home.
13. You find good stuff early in the season and early in the day and good deals late in the season and late in the day.
14. When I’m looking for furniture, I basically ignore the condition. Instead I focus on the shape. Things like chipped or ugly paint, missing drawer pulls, wobbly legs, often greatly reduce the price and those things are easy (and fun) to fix.
15. Finally (and I think most importantly!), I make sure I’m nice. I tell them good morning, smile… make eye contact, maybe chat a little with them. They’re more willing to make a deal with me if they like me.