Shopping Photo Credit: Courtesy of Tiffany Pratt

How to Score the Best Flea Market Finds

Designer Tiffany Pratt shares her secrets on scouring flea markets & remaking your finds

On HGTV’s Buy It! Fix It! Sell It!, professional “fixers” duke it out to find and purchase vintage pieces with potential and revamp them for the best result (and profit margin!). So when it came time to scout out some pieces for our own DIY projects, we thought star Tiffany Pratt would naturally be the best person to ask—after all, she’s a professional flea market shopper. Here are Pratt’s top 5 tips for scoring the best flea market finds:

1. Trust your instincts

When browsing a flea market or attending an auction, Pratt says to always go for items that give you that special “can’t live without it” feeling. If you absolutely love the item from the start, you’ll jump right into remaking it and avoid project procrastination.

2. Look beyond the obvious

Pratt says you’ve got to look beyond what she calls the “primo racks” – the front displays at stores or markets. “Sometimes the good stuff is hiding,” she says, and you need to spend some time digging or you’ll miss it. Plus, often times buried items have yet to be priced by the seller, and you could potentially get a great deal on a special, one-of-a-kind item that you love.

Designer Tiffany Pratt of Buy It! Fix It! Sell It!
Pratt says staying focused is key with flea marketing shopping. Her personal weakness? Vintage jewellery. Photo by Koko Photos.

3. Be prepared

For inexperienced flea market shoppers, Pratt recommends making a wish list in advance, which she says will help you stay focused. Without planning, “people don’t know why they bought an item,” which makes it difficult to integrate the item into your home. Pratt wisely recommends making your list, sticking to it, and avoiding distraction (as much as possible!).

4. Watch for one-person DIY projects

When shopping for personal projects, Pratt says she generally recommends finding items for projects that you can manage on your own. If you can sand, paint, and reupholster, then why not find items that need those types of improvements? You’ll always be more satisfied if you can do it yourself rather than outsourcing tasks, says Pratt.

Designer Tiffany Pratt of Buy It! Fix It! Sell It!
The sky’s the limit with turning trash into treasure, says Pratt. Photo by Nikki Leigh McKean.

5. Build up a stock of DIY essentials

One of the biggest challenges for makers and DIY-ers is getting organized with the tools you need to make over an item. Pratt recommends keeping the essentials on hand at all times to keep things simple. Her top items? A staple gun, hot glue gun, basic tools, a drop cloth, and cans of spray paint in assorted colours. That way, once you purchase your newest flea market find, there’s nothing stopping you from fixing it up immediately.

Buy It! Fix It! Sell It! is currently in its second season on HGTV Canada, airing Thursdays at 7pm PDT.

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