What to Buy at Flea Markets and Yard Sales

Your Flea Market and Yard Sale Shopping Guide

young woman buying old picture frames at a flea market
Apeloga AB/Cultura/Getty Images

While it's true that one man's trash is often another man's treasure, sometimes trash is just trash. Don't let a flashy finish fool you into buying a flimsy piece of furniture -- and don't let a low price tag convince you to buy something you just don't need. Here's what to buy at flea markets and yard sales:

Things You Should Always Buy Used

Sometimes buying used makes sense no matter what your budget.

That's true when the savings are substantial without sacrificing quality or condition. You should also buy used when you might not use something enough to justify paying retail -- or when you absolutely know you won't.

Flea Market Finds to Take Home

Some of the most common flea market finds are also the best for decorating your home.

You'll probably spot some of these pieces on your next flea market, yard sale, or thrift store shopping trip. And when you do, you should think about taking them home.

The Best Furniture Brands to Buy Used

Even if you're buying used furniture because you're broke, you don't have to fill your home with cheap, poorly constructed pieces.

If you're buying mostly newer pieces, you don't even have to learn a lot about recognizing quality. Just looking at the brand name can tell you a lot about how well the piece is built -- and about how likely it is to last.

Vintage Kitchen Finds to Look for at Flea Markets

Adding the finishing touches to your vintage kitchen?

Or just hoping to give your new kitchen a bit of vintage charm? Keep an eye out for these old kitchen finds at flea markets, estate sales, thrift stores, and yard sales.

Home Accessories to Look for at Flea Markets

The right home accessories can transform a good start into a stunning space -- and catalogs and department stores aren't the best places to find them.

Pick up these seven stunners while you're shopping secondhand.

Flea Market Finds to Hang as Artwork

No room looks finished when the walls are bare. But, you're not stuck with cheap reproductions just because an art gallery is out of reach. Just hang these inexpensive flea market finds as artwork.

Accent Furniture to Take Home

Lots of DIY decorators spend more time shopping for the big pieces (beds, dining tables, sofas, etc.) than they do into choosing the accents. That makes sense since the larger-scale pieces also have larger price tags.

But, do keep an eye out for outstanding accent furniture. It's often the little pieces that make the biggest difference to your home's finished look.

Table Types to Watch for While You Shop

Every room needs an accent table of some sort, even if it's just a tiny wine table or half-oval demilune.

Accent tables look charming -- and scattering them about adds another layer to your space. You don't have to buy them new or pay a big price. Just watch for these five accent table types during your next yard sale, estate sale, or flea market shopping trip.

Vintage and Gently Used: What to Buy Where

Whether you're shopping for gently used or vintage pieces, different secondhand sources yield different types of finds.

Here's a handy list of things you might want to buy -- and the best places to find each one.

Load It or Leave It: When a Bargain Isn't

A low price doesn't always make a piece a bargain.

If the condition is poor and it can't be put right, that cheap price is just wasted cash. You have to consider the cost to make the piece functional -- and whether it can be fixed at all. Learn what to buy and what pieces you should definitely leave behind.

Still not sure if you should buy a specific piece? Try asking yourself these easy questions.