Fifteen of my best Flea Market Tips

Route 11 Yard Crawl 2016 heat wave

Two weekends ago I had the chance to return to the Route 11 Yard Crawl, a 40 mile yard sale that extends from Stephen’s City Virginia down to New Market. This is actually the third year that I’ve gone, usually with 2 sisters in tow but this time only one. It’s the perfect place to stock up on my diy projects for the fall. You can find the 2014 Yard Crawl here.

We had been looking at the weather ahead of time just to see if it was going to rain on us but never really noticed that this was destined to be the hottest weekend of the year.

This was actually a picture of the car’s thermometer, a nice cozy 103 degrees.  Apparently, with the humidity, the weatherman said it felt like 115.  All I know is that it felt like a sauna. HOT HOT HOT. Don’t forget the sunscreen.Route 11 Yard Crawl 2016-002

With any of the super long yard sales, start early and carry cash with plenty of small bills.  You not only get to see the booths before they are totally picked over, but it’s not as hot and you’ll want to cover as much ground as you can.

Having said that, my sister and I slept in a little too long, but we were well rested and energized.
Route 11 Yard Crawl 2016 barrel hoops

Don’t be afraid to ask, Is that your best price?

I did walk home with two of these hoops and apparently the price marked was “the best price.”  But it didn’t hurt to ask and the barrel hoops were super chunky and cool. Route 11 Yard Crawl 2016 Cabinet Assortment

Know what you’re in the market for, take along your measurements and a list of the pieces you’re interested in.  Having said that, be flexible, you will never find exactly what you’re looking for. Both my sister and I totally gravitate to tin, anything rusty, tools, industrial, wooden, farm equipment…by knowing what you’re in the market for you can probably bypass about 90% of the booths.

I’m looking at this picture now and  I’m thinking I should have picked up the cabinet with the shutters.  A little paint, new handles…you’ll just have to use your imagination.Route 11 Yard Crawl 2016 Farm Equipment

With the super long yard sales, save yourself some walking and do a bit of drive by shopping.  The traffic is always super slow because everyone else is doing it too.  It also helps to go with a friend, one to do the looking and the other to keep their eyes on the road.

If you’re in the market for kids toys, you’ll be able to see the pile from the road. If you’re in the market for little girl clothes, you can spot that pile of pink from a mile away. Flea markets are the best for finding kids clothes and toys for a fraction of the retail cost.

Route 11 Yard Crawl 2016 Mason Jars

If you really want to enjoy yourselves, send your husbands golfing.

That may not be everybody’s husband, but it is definitely ours. They have a tendency to get totally bored and after an hour they are speed walking through the booths. “Are we done yet?”, “When do we eat?”, …There is no time for that.

Route 11 Yard Crawl 2016-doll houses

While there are tons of things for kids, when the temp reaches 103, you may want to leave the kids home too. Many of the kids we passed did not look happy. 

OK, mostly it was their parents who didn’t look so lively.

Route 11 Yard Crawl 2016 Oil and Gas Cans

Would I recommend shopping when the temp is above 100? No.

But the yard sale goes on rain or shine or sweltering, scorching sizzling temps…so sometimes you can get a good deal early instead of waiting for the end of the day. Some dealers are willing to bargain just so they can get out of the heat. 

Route 11 Yard Crawl 2016 Vintage Style Signs

There were a few crafters along the way.  I always love a good vintage style sign.  

Route 11 Yard Crawl 2016-Crafty Glassware Flowers

This woman crafted flowers from glassware and solar lights. 

Route 11 Yard Crawl 2016-cherry pitter

Who doesn’t need a rusty cherry pitter. If I could have figured out something to convert it to I may have had to take it home.  The rust was the perfect color.

Maybe it was the heat frying my brain, but no inspiration struck me. (And it looked heavy) Route 11 Yard Crawl 2016-cast iron pots

Yard sales are also a great place to buy kitchen and household items. Many of the older vintage pans will last a lifetime.

My grandmother always made the best fried chicken in her cast iron skillet.  When my mom married my dad, she had to have my grandmother’s recipe so she could cook her fried chicken just the way my dad liked it.

So, it should come as no surprise, that when I first got married I was told that the secret to fantastic fried chicken was a good cast iron skillet. Of course I had to buy one.  I’m pretty sure my skillet was broken because my chicken never came close to my mom’s or my grandmother’s yummy goodness.  I gave my skillet away 🙁

Route 11 Yard Crawl 2016-flour bags

Route 11 Yard Crawl 2016-go carts

There are tons of things that you just won’t find on Ebay, like these go carts. Look for the unique.

One other thing that you might not think of for flea markets is buy local produce. This is the time of year when most peoples gardens are giving them a bounty of vegetables and don’t mind selling some of their excess. This year my sister found the tastiest tomatoes I’ve had in a couple of years. If you read my pallet garden  from last week, you’ll know that I’m a little tomato obsessed.

Last year I bought a crate of cucumbers for $1.  We had pickles for weeks after that little purchase.

Route 11 Yard Crawl 2016-iron beds and ironing boards

If you love to repurpose, think outside the box when it comes to old household items. Remember my wine sign made from another vintage wooden ironing board?

Maybe it was the heat, but I don’t even remember seeing the blue and white bed frames behind the ironing boards, which brings me to my next flea market tip...bring and drink lots of water.  We each had a jug of water and a cooler filled with water bottles and we were still afraid we were going to run out.

Route 11 Yard Crawl 2016-mannequin light head

Like I said, yard sales are great for the one of a kind, you won’t find that anywhere, not even on Ebay, piece.

We were told that this little lady and a couple of her friends used to line someones driveway. OK.

Route 11 Yard Crawl 2016-Richmond voter box

Speaking of one of a kind…this was a voter box used in Richmond. In the picture it looks to be the size of a milk crate, but it is actually a couple feet (or more) wide.  You can see the slot where the votes would go in top and the place where the lock would go to seal the votes in until they could be counted.

Route 11 Yard Crawl 2016-rusty cart and file boxes

My sister fell in love with this cart.  I think it was the wheels and rust but there was not a chance it was fitting in the car.

Route 11 Yard Crawl 2016-washtub shed

One of my favorite things in the whole yard sale was this time worn shed in someones back yard.  I love the contrast of the gray patina of the wood versus the new brick construction of the church next door. Pretty sure it wasn’t for sale, but I want one.

Just look at the wash tub decor and the old wagon wheel.

Route 11 Yard Crawl 2016 washtub shed and plow

Another view of the same shed.  The Canna lilys, the rock edge and the plow.  Perfect.

On the other side of the shed were about 5 old frying pans nailed to the wall and a rustic bench. I would have showed you that picture too, but since I was shooting into the sun, the picture was sun spotty, or maybe I just have a dirty camera lens.

Route 11 Yard Crawl 2016-wooden chicken incubator

Bring your biggest car  (which happens to be my sister’s minivan) and clean it out so you have plenty of room for all your loot.

I was sitting in the car with the AC going full blast as my sister was loading up the car. Can you guess what that box is?

It’s a chicken incubator or sometimes known as future coffee table. It would go great with my chicken coop coffee table.

Route 11 Yard Crawl 2016-

This was my haul at the end of the day. I can’t wait to get started on all my Flea Market Flips.
Route 11 Yard Crawl 2016-lifeboat supply box

Before I get started on all my projects I wanted to show you the top of this cool yellow trunk. Not sure what I should do with it because there is no way I can cover up the lettering.  Apparently it was once used on a life raft.  Where else would you need a bailing bucket, fishing tackle, life raft sail, compass…

Route 11 Yard Crawl 2016-termite eaten crate

Last picture, this is one of my sister’s finds though she may give it to me to fix up. You may say ewwww, but this is not his prettiest side. The top is beautiful with a chippy blue patina…so what if a few termites feasted on the bottom for lunch…they obviously have good taste. 🙂

Have a great week.

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  • Cecilia says:

    I love it! My sister and I went to a giant market last August…in 100+ weather. It.was.miserable by lunchtime. But we did score some great finds. Not sure I’d do that again. 🙂
    You found some great things! Looking forward to the makeovers.

    • Joan says:

      I definitely would do it again, we had tons of fun. I actually think the heat would be better than rain because the dealers cover everything up though a little drizzle would have felt wonderful.

  • Gail says:

    You guys really did find some great items! I’m so sorry I had to miss all the fun, but I sure didn’t miss that heat. Hopefully next year….

  • Colleen says:

    Love the yellow locker. Clear poly it, maybe add some bun feet and call it good. Great size for a coffee table. It has such great patina would be a shame to cover it up.

    • Joan says:

      I had the same thoughts with the yellow trunk right on down to cute little bun feet. I’m wavering a bit whether it should have clear poly or a glass top though. Stay tuned.

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