(Continued from Part 1. This part concludes the article.)
I like flea markets, since it is like attending a hundred yard sales without spending all day driving from one end of the county to the next. I find that flea markets have basically three types of vendors. One type is the seasonal vendor who is there each week, often in the same spot. These folks are dealers and I find that their prices are higher, they don’t haggle as much, and each week it is just about the same inventory as last week. At the flea market I go to, these dealers are mostly up front towards the entrance and at the end of rows. Some however, they are also in the last row. Why is this important? When I go to this flea market, I skip the known dealer areas at the beginning since I am familiar with their inventory and I know I won’t get the “Best” deals from them. Instead, I skip to where the non-regular sellers are at.
The second type of vendor is a dealer but doesn’t always attend one particular flea market. Like the regular vendors, their prices can be higher and they may not haggle as much but their inventory may be new to you if you have never seen them before.
The last type of vendor is my favorite, they are the “I just want to get rid of this stuff” vendors. They might be looking to down size, make room in their home, or even be getting rid of a deceased family members property. Profit isn’t their main motivator. Not wanting to pack stuff up at the end of the day is their main goal. That isn’t to say these vendors will give their stuff away but they will haggle and their prices will be very reasonable for the most part. This last type of vendor is who you should go to first.
A few other tips and tricks about flea markets, those vendors that are there every week well guess what? As Ma and Pa “I want to get rid of this stuff” are setting up, those regular vendors, who are dealers, will swoop in like buzzards looking to cherry pick their wares. Then the seasonal dealer will walk back up to their table and put a new tag on the item with double the price on it. How can you level the playing field? Well ,our flea market charges 50 cents per person for admission. Dealers typically pay $5 for a space. Pay the $5 and enter with the dealers. Park your vehicle and start to walk around as others are setting up. When you are done looking, set up and sell your surplus goods to put back into prepping.
I almost always haggle. If it’s an item for a $1 I won’t, but if I have 3 items for a $1 each, I would probably offer $2. My good friend often asks people if they have any “X”. I have been shocked at the number of times people will say “yes, but I didn’t bring it here, do you want my phone number?” So, if you are looking don’t be afraid to ask. I view flea markets as a race against time. You have to get through the market before other people who are interested in the same things get through and buy the items. So, go as early as possible to have the better choice of items.
One other trick for good deals, is to go on a cloudy day. Many people won’t show up since they think with the possibility of rain the sellers won’t show up. That is true but it doesn’t mean all sellers won’t show up. These are the days where those regular vendors will be more apt to make a deal. Also, the vendors will be anxious to at least make their entry fee and gas money back. Cloudy days are good days for other sales too.
Don’t Hold It
For whatever reason, if you ask a person for a lower price while you are holding an item in your hand or touching it, it is somehow psychologically interpreted by the seller as meaning you really want the item and they may not agree to the lower price you threw out. Also never ask a price while touching an item. Same principal. It sounds strange but it works.
Don’t be afraid to ask or make assumptions
Not having prices on items is a pet peeve of mine. To discourage people from making assumptions about my ability to pay a higher price, I wear my worn work jeans and worn Tee shirts. If I wore a Polo Shirt with Nautica shorts, leather sandals and a Rolex you can bet I would be given a higher price. But on the other hand, do not assume that an item without a price tag is out of your price range. I lost a very nice adze to a friend because it didn’t have a price on it and I “assumed” it would be $20 versus the $5 he got it for. Well at least I know where to go to borrow an adze. Fast forward to seeing a spool of 12-gauge wire (over 400 ft) and hearing a price of $8. I couldn’t reach into my pocket quick enough. So, remember, always ask, don’t assume.
With web-sites like eBay, CraigsList, and Facebook market place available I still find our free paper Area Shopper a more valuable resource when looking for preps. Since many of the things I’m looking for are more prevalent in rural areas where internet access is slow, if available at all, these free weekly papers that are full of auctions and other sales listings, items for sale, and services being offered and is a great resource.
The Bulletin Board
The restaurant I frequent for breakfast on the weekends when going to the BOL still has a good old-fashioned cork bulletin board as you walk into the establishment. The board is full of ads for trucks, cows, pigs, rabbits, hay, greenhouses, lumber, dogs, handyman services, garage sales, bake sales, and probably a kitchen sink once in a while. The good news is that many of the businesses in small towns still have bulletin boards for people to post information on.
Getting to know people and establishing relationships is a very valuable Prepper resource. Again, you don’t have to tell people you are a Prepper or survivalist instead you can be the person interested in homesteading, camping, bush-crafting, history or some other hobby. When we bought our BOL, meeting the neighbor was invaluable for finding local builders who came recommended, where local saw mills were, what gravel pit was the best to use, who sells coal, and other sources of supplies or services.
As discussed earlier if you are a regular at flea markets and auctions you will get to know people and let them casually know what you’re interested in. You don’t have to people you are looking for “apocalyptic accoutrements” or survival gear. But be as specific as possible. Don’t say I’m looking for military items because they may buy and bring you every rusty bayonet, and wool dress uniform they find. At some point, they will stop looking for you. Pictures or detailed instructions are useful for finding (or selling) items such as US field telephone model TA-1 or TA-312. You should also give them a price point. Statements like, “I would pay up to $45, depending upon condition” also lets the person who maybe looking for you know how much they can spend on an item and still make a profit.
I recently took a Bee Keeping class and got a one-year membership in the regional bee keepers’ association. That network is also not only a network for knowledge but is a great way to pick up equipment/supplies that people are getting rid of.
Keeping it local
Saving money is a main prepper goal pre-TEOTWAWKI. Using Amazon to buy items is convenient, fast, and easy. Traveling to the local Wal-Mart is also worth the time and effort. However, shopping at Amazon and Wal-Mart does not allow us to develop relationships with people who are and will be in our immediate area in a post-TEOTWAWKI environment. Building a lasting and meaningful relationship pre-TEOTWAWKI takes time and effort. Trying to build that type of relationship post-TEOTWAWKI will be even more difficult. Yes, I can go to Wal-Mart or Lowes in town and get a “better” deal on plants for garden. But in the big picture, to me it makes more sense long-term to head down to the Amish Greenhouse that sells plants and establish a trusting relationship that will prove vital post-TEOTWAWKI.
Imagine these scenarios; I go to the Amish greenhouse now every spring to buy plants and get to know the family. I let them know that I live less than a mile away as the crow flies. TEOTWAKI happens and I walk down to trade or barter some plants in the Spring, how will I be received verses if they have never seen me, don’t know I’m a neighbor? Some people are caught up in terms like MAG (Mutual Assistance Group) but really our survival will come down to our local community like it has in the past. One of the reasons I liked our BOL was because of the local “cottage industries” that were around the immediate area with many of them owned by the Amish.
These are the types of community resources that I have in my area here in the Great Lakes area. I’m sure that SurvivalBlog readers from different parts of the county and in fact around the world have different community resources for prepping and survival. I hope that you will share those with us so that perhaps we can either see if the same resource is in our area or perhaps we can start something that is unique to another part of the country or world.