How To: Do the Rosebowl Fleamarket Right

Los Angeles

atla-081108-rb01.jpgThis weekend was the Rosebowl Flea Market, which takes place on the second Sunday of every month. It's the probably the most well-known flea market in Los Angeles and it's definitely one of the most well-attended. There are still bargains to be had and even if you're skeptical, it's an experience that shouldn't be missed. Our tips on how to do it right, after the jump...

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The booth of one of our favorite vendors, Euro-Linens. Snatch up: pillows made from faded blue and white French ticking, soft linen caftans and baby fine but sturdy linen towels, all made from vintage and antique fabrics.
  • Arrive early: Although it's officially open from 9 am to 3 pm, when we're really serious about looking for furniture, we like to get there early. It's worth the extra price of admission to get there before the crowds arrive and before the good stuff has been snatched up. Admission is $20 between 5 am - 7 am; $15 between 7 am and 8:30 am; $10 til 9:30 am and $8 after 9:30 am. If early's not possible, try late in the day. A lot of vendors will drop their prices so that they don't have to haul their stuff back with them.
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    At Xcape, which we blogged on Friday, we found these amazing outdoor chairs. They are available with other colours of webbing. We'll definitely be finding a use for them in our own home or in that of a friend.

  • Prepare: Wear plenty of sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses. Dress in layers (the day often starts off chilly before switching to boiling hot) and coffee up.
  • Bring: plenty of cash or your chequebook (most vendors prefer cash). Small bills facilitate bargaining. Bring a bag for your purchases or a folding hand cart, especially if you're planning to buy something big (some vendors will deliver your item for a small fee). A tape measure's good if you're buying something to fit a particular space.

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    Classic vintage posters, many of them already mounted on linen and most of them in pristine condition, are available at this booth.

  • Oops, I forgot...: Tapemeasure: A dollar bill will work in a pinch (it's six inches long) if you leave your tape measure at home. Money: There are ATM machine's outside the entrance if you need more cash (though they charge $5 for the convenience). Something in the car: Get your hand stamped if you have to leave for any reason.
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    Zig zag your way through the lot (aka Lot F) with the best vendors. If you're early enough, park nearby so that you won't have to cart that great find across miles of parking lot.

  • But It's So Big!: With 7 miles of shopping, it's easy to get overwhelmed. We learned a trick from a set decorator friend that will get you in and out and hitting the best vendors. Once you pay your admission and pass through the turnstiles, turn left. Follow the chain link fence that separates the market from N. Arroyo Boulevard until it narrows to a point, then begin zig-zagging your way back in the direction of the entrance (go down one row, take the next row in the opposite direction). By the time fatigue sets in (somewhere between 2 and 3 hours), you'll have hit all the best vendors and avoided the crowds.
  • Shopping: Bargaining is expected...and welcome. Know what you're willing to pay for something and be prepared to walk away. Enthusiasm always helps; vendors love to share the history of a piece with an interested consumer and often a conversation will lead to gentle haggling. There are no returns here. If you're not sure about something, be prepared to leave it behind. Once you do purchase something, many vendors will happily let you leave it there while you continue your shopping; the zig zag will help you find your way back to it. See you next month!

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Among other things, our friend picked up this great bench from the 60s for $50

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