Round Top, Warrenton, Antiques Weekend – whatever you call it this is the weekend it is happening. This is the holy grail of flea markets in Texas nestled between Austin and Houston occurring twice a year in the spring and fall. Yes, I’ve been to The Rose Bowl, Canton and Brimfield – this one is better. I scheduled my wedding around it in 2003 and have only missed it twice and that was because I had just given birth. If I ever have another baby remind me to time that better.
Last week I did a live broadcast for the DIY Network from the fields. Yup, this flea market is literally set up along a 2 lane highway in cow pastures. Don’t worry, the cow patties have been picked up. Tune in to see all the treasures I scored (many more were found after I filmed the video).
Even if you live nowhere near Texas there are some great general flea market tips and tricks in the video. Here are a few of my fave pearls of wisdom. Some directly apply to this specific flea market and others will work for almost any flea market anywhere.
What to Wear
Obviously this is a matter of preference and as I always say: you do you. However, as someone who was raised going to flea markets (no really since I rode in a stroller) I’ve gleamed a few things. There are the obvious tips like comfy shoes and taking the weather into account. Round Top is gravel, dirt and fire ants – flip flops are a bad choice.
If the flea market is outdoors (like this one) and somewhere like Texas think about sunglasses, hats and light clothing that will protect your skin. I spend too much money on wrinkle reducing lotions and potions to risk it at the flea market.
I know you look cute in your expensive cowboy boots and dripping in turquoise but remember the dealers that don’t have price tags on their items might be waiting to see what kind of purse you’re carrying before they quote you a total. Not always, but sometimes. There are better times to wear your entire jewelry box.
What to Bring
I carry a large purse or tote. Inside that I have several other tote bags ready for action. Nothing like walking half a mile back to your car carrying something in a plastic bag ripping at every step.
Suntan lotion and hand sanitizer are the closest things to makeup you really need for an outdoor flea market. Don’t forget chapstick with an SPF says the girl with sunburned lips. Most flea markets involve port-a-potties so hand sanitizer is the closest thing to a hand wash you can hope for.
Where to Go
This advice is very specific to this particular flea market. In the DIY Network video I talk about all the different names Antiques Weekend goes by. I typically call it Round Top, which is a city out there, but I never actually go to the town. Most people call the flea market by that name but typically shop in an even smaller neighboring town called Warrenton. Round Top tends to be newer items, clothing, crafts, candles and more.
There are also specific areas you where you need to drive. The Junk Gypsies have their very own store there. Marburger Farms a world famous antique show is down the road. Look for other driving destinations like Chelsea Meadows, The Compound and Blue Hills. It’s a two lane highway, you can’t miss them.
The fields of Warrenton are vast and even though you can park and walk through all of it, it may take you more than one day to see everything. I typically will go 2-3 days over the course of 3 weeks and I never see everything.
When to Go
This is another misnomer about this flea market, the term antiques weekend. Technically the official dates of this show are the first weekend in October and the first weekend in April. However, I usually start going 2 weeks before that. Early bird gets the worm and all of that.
When you go two weeks early there are only about a third of the vendors set up, but the shopping is the best. I promise. This is when the other vendors are buying things for their own booths to mark up and the antique dealers from across the country are there picking.
The week before the official weekend is when I filmed the above video. You can see that things are bumping. Most vendors are there, they just might not be entirely set up yet. Remember when going early dealers are less likely to make you a deal, there are still 2 weeks left to sell items at full price.
During the official antiques week you can guarantee that all the booths are set up. This is the week of Marburger which is a high end paid entry portion of the show with gorgeous curated antiques. You pay for what you get there. There are pluses and minuses to going on the official weekend. This flea market has turned into the SXSW of junk sales so the official weekend is crowded. Remember that part about a 2 lane highway? It can take you over 2 hours to go 10 miles so factor that in. The weekdays are always less crowded and a better option. Another bonus of going at the end of the show rather than the start is dealers are much more likely to haggle and make a deal. They don’t want to pack those things up with them.
How to Shop
Cash is always king at flea markets. I’ve had dealers knock $100 off of things when I offered to pay cash. Go to the bank before you come because ATM machines are far and few between. A variety of bills is a good idea. Don’t haggle to get something for a dollar and then pay with a $20.
Some dealers will take checks, but I don’t even have those anymore. Other dealers will try and run your card, but remember you are out in the country the wi-fi signal is not that great so most dealers have a hard time running their swiper.
Dealers will not have their feelings hurt if you ask for a better price (as long as you are nice about it and that better price is reasonable). Also, if the booth is selling several things you want to buy ask them if they will give you a better deal. One of my favorite sayings I hear at flea markets is “Make a pile, I’ll make you smile”.
Did I leave anything out? I forgot to say Bar W has free parking and get a BBQ sandwich at the Legal Tender Saloon. What are your favorite flea markets? You know I’ll travel for junk!
Can’t get enough vintage shopping? Keep reading…
Trend Forecast: Is Brass About to be Dethroned as Decor’s King? This is an article I wrote last fall for Apartment Therapy. Brass will always be a yes, but is it still a hell yes?
7 Vintage goodies to Look for Year Round to Decorate for Christmas With – Over on the Treetopia blog where I talk all things holiday I shared some ideas of when and why to look for Christmas in July at the flea market.
Discovering Tomorrows Collectibles Today – This is an oldie but a goodie from the archives written by my mother Fredda Perkins the patron saint of flea markets. This woman knows her stuff.