Florida vintage hunting at flea markets is a treat. Today is a fine day for it too, not too hot not too cold, it’s Monday December 24th the day before christmas and we’re headed to Webster Flea Market. One of the finest flea markets in the southern United States. And it is loaded to the brim with great vintage scores. The best part about vintage hunting here is that you never know what you are going to get. The vendors change weekly and they come from all parts of the US and as far north as Canada so you are sure to get a great mix of vintage items, jewelry, antiques, vintage post cards, hand made collectables…the list is endless. Also being so close to christmas we knew we were in for some get scores.
Florida vintage hunting at flea markets usually starts with finding a prime parking spot. We got one near the gate for two dollars and a smile. What I love about Webster is the people that come there, always friendly and always helpful. You also get a mix of locals and Floridians from all over state, they are all there looking for a great vintage bargin. They come to browse, look for something that catches their eye, or they bring a list for a vintage item they have in mind. But all of them are prepared to bargin. And if you walk around you can hear them talking with the vendors working on a sale.
Each vendor has a way of calling you over too, you could be walking by someone’s booth looking at an antique or vintage toy at some other booth, and they find creative ways to talk you over. You might just glance at their table and you could get “that there silver bowl is my sisters, she got it from her great grandmother, and today it’s $30!” One vendor I passed, I asked how his day was going and he said “I can’t complain, and if I did I’d surly scare away customers.” Isn’t that the truth, because I stuck around to look at some of his great vintage jewelry and vintage watches.
Many of the tables this year had jewelry and I got to take a lot of photos of jewelry, coins, buttons and some very rare items. I like going through the photos later because something interesting you never expected turns up. The thrill of finding a perfect vintage score on a day like this also means I had to control my spending and really look for something that catches my eye. Otherwise I’d be walking away with way too many collectables, with no clue how to carry them AND an empty wallet – Websters is surely expensive if you’re not choosey about how you spend your money. Several items this year were calling my name so it was a truly dynamite year but also a test of self control.
I love listening to sellers hustling with buyers, and there are so many. In fact every isle is 3 city blocks long and you tend to walk back and forth zig zagging at times, because there are just so many isles with vintage vendors you don’t want to miss any. I have to see every table even if it’s just a quick pass because I do not want to miss a single thing. And depending on who you’re with, if they’re not a vintage feind who shops-till-they-drop for vintage items you might get some ugly stares. Not everyone gets a love for vintage, it really must be part of your genetic make-up. So be wise when you choose a friend to go vintage hunting with, if you’re not careful you might be leaving early. The alternative, which is the most effective way to vintage hunt is to go solo. You can cover a lot of ground and get to meet new and interesting people while you’re at it. Plus you can wander around and come back if you see something you like. But boy was it busy this year, not as many vendors, but loads of buyers. The christmas rush was surely on today.
Next thing I know something catches my eye and I am stuck at booth 74 looking through a pile of old vintage tools, woodworking tools, vintage hammers, vintage rulers, antique plainers. I’ve never seen such a collection of vintage tools and each one of these items surly had a story. Many of them were quite old – you could tell by the brands and the dates engraved into the metal. I’m sure many were handmade too. At the next booth it got a bit scary and a guy pulled out a shot gun from the back of his mini-van to cock it a few times. Now I’m not sure if he was trying to advertise to sell it, or if this was an act of intimidation but I just kept walking because you never know in Florida. A note of caution: if you have an issue with vintage guns or weapons be prepared to see a lot of them at Websters. Frankly vintagescores.com is just not interested in guns.
Before you know it something else has has my attention and at one table is a whole heaping pile of vintage vinyl, vintage 45s from the 50s to the 60s, the vendor wanted $20 for the whole lot. And I wasn’t prepared to carry them back on the plane but for some lucky vintage hunter, these would be a fine score. He had early Troggs, the Dave Clark Five, it was a great pile of vintage vinyl for a veteran record collector. And I’m sure the seller would have bargained it down to $15 if you tried. There was one vintage vinyl hunter digging around while I was there, he was eye-balling the collection out of the corner of his eye when he heard the seller say the price. And I’m sure he dove in as soon as I walked away from that score.
The thing about Webster is that there are so many vintage bargins to be had, you need to clear your calendar for two entire days to get through it all. In fact I could write a whole post just on the vintage clutch purse I found for $100 – and could have easily talked that vendor down to $60 if I had the patience. It is a waiting game, you need to be able to walk away and come back later if you mean business. You need to let the seller know that you would like to bargin. Low ball and see what you can get, everyone is open to a sale. And most will respect you for it. If you settle for the asking price sellers have a huge buffer on each item hoping for the best so don’t be afraid to do business and name your price.
This year again I found the vendor with a ton of vintage toys, vintage Tonka toys, vintage star wars toys, and some original vintage Star Wars comics, in fact, originals from the very first printing issues 1, 2, and 3. George Lucas would be proud. Right next to that was the strangest thing, someone had taxidermied a mountain goat and a gentleman was starting at it so I had to take a picture. Like I said, at Webster you are sure to find the most interesting people. If it wasn’t for the fantastic vintage hunting you get here, I would surely be a documentary photographer because the crowds alone are worth the visit to Webster Florida.
Every year that I come down here I discover great vintage hunting and I am never disappointed. This year I was surprised however because it was the first year that I didn’t walk away with multiple vintage scores, instead I made a real effort to document and photograph all the scores so that you can see what I mean. There was one item however that I will talk about later because it will take a whole post to describe, and it was one that I couldn’t purchase. I woke up christmas morning however and wished I did because I dreamed about it all night…more on that later. Having said that if you want a real sense of what Flea markets are like in Florida come to Webster it has a lot to offer. I hope you get a chance to make it down here it is a true vintage hunter’s paradise. Best of luck, and if you do send us your pictures!
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