Before Spring winds down, take a moment to focus inward.

By inward, we don't mean you need to go out and buy an adult coloring book. Summer is coming, slowly but surely, and now's the time to spruce up your outdoor space. What's the most fun way to find cheap, one-of-a-kind personal touches to liven up your garden or patio space? Instead of scouring your local Goodwill, check out a well-reputed antique flea market.

These thrifting havens check all the boxes: It takes a road trip to get there, you'll be hanging in the outdoors while you shop, and you can definitely plan on scoring some great deals. The best part? You can feel good knowing that it's an eco-friendly shopping experience, as the majority of goods you see are reused and re-purposed from another lifetime.

These al fresco markets are across the country from LA to Chicago to Massachusetts, occurring as frequently as weekly, monthly, or just one major blowout. The layouts vary, but you can count on encountering a sprawling grid of vendors hawking their wares — stall after stall offering everything from fixtures and furniture to sporting goods, textiles, clothing, and oddities of all sorts. The markets sometimes charge a small amount for entry and the vendors are often separated into areas focused on their specialties: antiques, clothing, and more. We’ve experienced market locations from out in a grassy field to inside the confines of a paved parking lot. Don't forget, we are having our FIRST SPRING PARKING LOT EVENT SATURDAY APRIL 28th!

There’s nothing tacky about second-hand shopping. In fact, stylists, celebrities, and influencers looking for inspiration frequent these markets. The perfect finds don’t come easy — these markets are the equivalent of a shopping marathon, so training and preparation are key. Here are some tips to make your outing a success:

  • Get there early for the best finds — Obvious, but worth stating. Some markets charge a bit more for “early bird” entry and we think it’s worth it.

  • Make a specific list of things you’d like to buy in advance — Do you need a mid-century side table, a desk lamp, or accent pieces for your living room? You’ll be overwhelmed by the sheer size and variety of offerings, so it helps to be focused. If you're lucky, you might even find some old snowboarding memorabilia to take home.

  • Bring cash in low denominations — This way you can bargain with vendors, which leads to our next suggestion: Don’t be afraid to bargain. You’ll have more luck with this strategy later in the day.

  • Comfort is key — Wear practical shoes, pack some sun protection and water, and bring something to schlep your finds. We ventured with the Large Keystone Tote.

  • Thrifting is a physical activity, don’t forget to eat — Check in advance that the market you’re attending has food trucks or vendors, and if not, pack some snacks. Some markets even have beer tents, so bring your ID.

Make a day out of it and have fun! There’s nothing like waking up early, hitting the road with friends and spending the day outdoors. Who knows, you might even get an adrenaline rush from scooping up that perfect find.

Check out some of our favorite markets (Beside SJM, of course:)

The Rosebowl Flea Market in LA occurs on the second Sunday of the month year-round and features over 2,500 vendors!

The outdoor Brooklyn Flea starts the first weekend in April through November; Saturdays in Fort Greene and Sundays in DUMBO.

Massachusetts’ Brimfield Antique Shows occur three times per year in the spring, summer, and fall.

Chicago’s indoor/outdoor Randolph Street Market occurs on the last weekend of the month with outdoor stalls from May through September.

The biannual Antique Weekend in Texas takes place in a series of small towns between Houston and Austin in the spring and in the fall.

Chicago’s indoor/outdoor Randolph Street Market occurs on the last weekend of the month with outdoor stalls from May through September.

Originally published in Burton

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