Yesterday was the Rose Bowl Flea Market (it happens every 2nd Sunday of the Month in Pasadena). Faith and I scour the market every month for our clients and for ourselves. We often get friends, blog readers and acquaintances asking us for advice about the market–so I decided to lay out some of the FAQ’s for the Rose Bowl Market, with answers here.
1. What Should I bring to the Market?
–Bring cash. A few vendors will accept cards and/or checks, but most accept only cash. There is an ATM on the premises but taking out cash costs $5 (ouch) and there is a $200 maximum per transaction, also the ATM line can get long and it’s a drag to wait to get money out.
–Bring water. Just like the ATMs, there are beverages and snacks at the market, but they are REALLY expensive, so pack a snack and save your cash for the goods.
–Wear layers + comfy, closed toed shoes (it can be dusty). The market is huge and you’ll be doing a lot of walking, and if your journey is successful– a lot of schlepping, so wear comfy clothes and layers because it can be brisk in the mornings– but then it gets hot. Sunglasses and/or a hat help to. Don’t forget the sunscreen.
–Bring big bags. Unless you fell like making 3 trips to your car and back, bring some big bags. I like those big blue Ikea bags because they are huge and sturdy.
–If you’re serious about finding furniture, bring a truck or van. With some vendors you can work out delivery options, but mostly, you’re going to want to take your purchases back home with you directly, so if you plan on buying furniture, considering renting a van or truck to get your goods home in.
2. What’s the best time to get to the Rose Bowl Market?
The answer to this question depends a lot on your purpose for going to the market. If you are going for a leisurely Sunday outing, I recommend that you get there at 9AM- the admission price goes down to $8 per person, it’s early enough to still be cool, and to get a decent parking spot. The market is also less crowded the earlier you go, which makes it more pleasant. If you wanna be all hard core though and get first dibs on the goods, then express admission from 8:00am – 9:00am is $10.00 per person, early admission from 7:00am – 8:00am is $15.00 per person, and a special preview VIP admission is from 5:00am – 7:00am and costs $20.00 per person.Ya.
The earliest I’ve ever gotten there was at 7:00AM. It was awesome.
3. What’s the best way to shop the market?
There is no ‘right’ way to shop the market. Duh. However, there are some things you may find helpful. The front area by the admission is mostly new stuff. I usually skip that section. There is also food and live music in the front area. I usually skip that section too.
The next section out (and this section is HUGE) has most of the Tchochkes, furniture, objects, art etc. whereas the outer area has mostly clothing. That is not to say you won’t find clothing in the furniture section and vice versa, but as a general guideline it’s true. In the ‘furniture’ section, each row is marked by a letter, and each booth has a number, so a booth may be in spot K8 or S2. Note these numbers if you need to meet up with someone or if you need to come back to a booth for any reason.
I usually walk all the way to the far corner of the market and then weave my way through each isle so that I don’t miss anything. If I find something that I like, I put a deposit on the item, note the booth number and come back at the end to pay the balance and pick up the goods so I don’t have to schlepp through the whole market holding a bunch of heavy stuff.
Examine items thoroughly–in the excitement of a good find it can be easy to overlook holes and stains–so do your homework.
4. Can I bargain?
Yes you can and you should. The market can be expensive and it’s annoying to pay boutique prices at a flea market. Bargaining is part of the fun. There really is an art to it, too, but Faith will have to do a post on that because she truly is a maser at the fine art of bargaining. I would say as a rule think about how much you’d pay for the item before you ask the price, so you have an idea of what it’s worth to you. Also, a lot of times if you buy more than one thing at a given booth people are often willing to do ‘batch’ pricing. Lastly, be fair when bargaining–don’t low-ball and don’t take it personally if people don’t lower the price. You can always try coming back to see if later on in the day the item is still there and if they are willing to go down on the price.
5. How do I know how much something is worth?
I often looks things up using my iphone–if there is a painting or a print or something I may want to know more about the artist– but mostly, I never know what an items monetary worth is– it’s more about the connection I have with something, or how that item makes me feel, or how crazy rad it’s going to look in my clients’ living room- than a monetary value. But as a little trick– I sometimes try and imagine the item in a different setting– I may say to myself, if this lamp/chair/dress was at Lawson Fenning, or Amsterdam Modern or Resurrection how much would it cost?
Hope you all found this helpful!
I wonder if any of you have any tips for shopping the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul as I will be heading there on the 18th… Woohoo! (I hear it’s even crazier than the Rose Bowl!!)