Some of Portland, Oregon’s best shopping for vintage clothes, jewelry, and home goods is at the Portland Flea, held at the Union/Pine event space in the Southeast neighborhood on the third Sunday of the month. Mark your calendars now for June 21, July 19, and August 16 this summer, though it continues through the fall. We tapped to two great Flea vendors, Essie Day of Essie Day Jewelry and Nate Tabor of Spikes High Sporting & Goods, for their intel on how to shop right.
Don’t rush to get there early
“Take the time for brunch—there aren't a ton of early birds snapping everything up the moment the Flea opens,” Tabor says. “Plus, if you're here closer to closing time, vendors don't want to pack up all their stuff and drag it home, so we're more willing to make deals.”
Scan Instagram before you go
Search #PDXFlea to see what vendors will be selling, then message them if you fall in love with something. “Some vendors will let you pre-pay for it and just pick it up at the Flea, and some will hold it aside for you if you express interest,” Tabor says.
Go ahead and call dibs
If you fall in love with a rad vintage alarm clock, don't take a lap and assume it'll still be there in 15 minutes. “The Flea is really busy with people who are definitely there to buy, so if you want an item, someone else likely will, too,” Day says. “When you find something you love, it's best to grab it right away.” If the item is heavy and you don't want to drag it around, the vendor will often hold it for you at the booth if you've already paid.
Don't be afraid to haggle
“It never hurts to ask the vendor if there's any wiggle room on the price—you might be amazed what we'll will throw out there, and the worst thing we can say is no,” Tabor says. “But if you want to haggle, don't be insulting: never offer less than 20 percent of the market price.” Day says you're also more likely to get a deal if you're buying several items from the same vendor.
Stop into the coolest booths first
In addition to their own shops, Tabor and Day love other booths at the Flea and frequently take home new finds on days when they're selling. He's partial to Aunty Teeks for vintage shirts and pennants, and Vintage Baron for records; she loves Blue Mars Dry Goods for Native American jewelry.
Sarah Z. Wexler is on the Oregon beat for Travel + Leisure. Based in Portland, you can follow her on Twitter at @SarahZWexler.