We are always in awe of people who can spot treasures (or at least potential treasures) and transform them from boring to brilliant. In our book, the ladies of Le Cart have quite the knack for doing just that. Last year we featured the Le Cart girls in the San Francisco Bay Area to learn more about their unique business and gawk at their amazing transformations. (For more on that story, read here.) But when we circled back with Mary Graf and Jenny Moore this year, we thought it would be fun to have them give us a tour around one of the many amazing flea markets in the Bay Area and give us some tips and pointers (that could be used at any market) along the way.
Tips and Tricks for Flea Market Finds
One of the reasons we started Le Cart was because of our love and devotion to The Alameda Point Antique Faire. We want to take readers on a tour of this fabulous market and give them tips on how to score great finds at any market or antique mall. For the Nashville readers, whether it is a large antique mall like GasLamp, the Nashville Flea Market or a massive expo somewhat close to home like Scott Antique Market in Atlanta, amazing one-of-a-kind treasures await.
Before our tour, here are some tips before leaving for your flea market adventure. Go as early as possible; make sure your car is empty of car seats, etc. to make room for your finds; take a large bag full of water, a snack, sun block, and lots of cash. It is much easier to negotiate if you have the cash in your back pocket. Plenty of vendors will take checks or even credit cards, but nothing like cash for talking the price down.
We usually leave the house before sunrise, because there is a lot of ground to cover and the best items go fast. We get a serious thrill from the potential of fabulous finds for our Le Cart inventory or even something as little as a new knick knack for one of our girls’ rooms. We are lucky antique fairs are very in fashion in the Bay area so we have a lot of great options, but you can find the coolest pieces to reinvent from the most unassuming booths. Look for similar ideas from our great vendors at other markets in your area.
One of the first booths you pass at Alameda is a huge area full of vintage prints in all categories. European maps, fish, corals, eggs, you name it. Most markets will have print booths and you can find some great pieces to frame. We both have galleries of botanicals in our homes. The print will usually be marked by how old it is, obviously the 100 plus year old ones will be more expensive, but you can still find some good deals so you can splurge a little more on the mats and frames to make it look great.
Moving on, we always pass the European Grain Sack Pillow booth that is very popular for any of you Francophile decorators. We are always tempted to buy a few, but Le Cart usually does fun, more pop of color custom pillows so we pass.
Browsing on, there are so many wonderful booths, many that are all styled and ready for you to bring home the treasure as is like this booth below. The more styled a booth, the more savvy the vendor, the more expensive the price. This one looks great but again we will pass on Le Cart inventory because we like to do some sprucing and styling ourselves. But that doesn’t mean we don’t buy some of these ready to place pieces for our own homes.
Another fun tip if you just want to causally peruse a market and do not want any furniture or hard work when you get home is to start a collection of something you love. Therefore, every time you go into one of these malls, markets, or estate sales, you have a focus and usually don’t go home empty handed. Look at these fabulous milk glass and coral vendors we have:
If you want to find a real deal, look for vendors that have a ton of inventory that isn’t in the best shape. The vendor below has so much furniture looking for new life that it is easy to strike a deal.
We find vendors like this often because we love to paint pieces with great lines in bright colors. With some Le Cart TLC, look what a standard old black side table became:
With about 800 booths in between, we have to end our tour with one of our favorite vendors at Alameda of all times. His business has evolved over the years, as he started designing vintage chandeliers and now sells full scale, freshly reupholstered and refinished beautiful French style furniture. His business name went from “Vintage Lights” now to “Art of Salvage”. Since he does all of his own designs, we don’t buy for Le Cart, but we for sure buy for our own homes. Here is a picture of his booth last Sunday and one of his first chairs he did in Mary’s home as well as a bench Jenny purchased for her entry.
In closing, your sunburn and empty wallet will probably tell you when you have had enough of the flea market, but it is always fun to see what treasures you bring home. To our beloved home sweet home Nashville market, we have to leave you with a photo of this find at last week’s Alameda Faire. You won’t see it on Le Cart’s website any time soon, but you never know what you will find from the San Francisco Bay to Honky Tonk USA.
Thank you Mary and Jenny! You are great tour guides…we need to plan a trip to San Francisco STAT! But in the meantime, we’ll continue checking out your website for all of your amazing Flea Market finds!
Mary Graf and Jenny Moore, Le Cart
(All images courtesy of Le Cart)
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