I’m an old soul and I’ve loved old things for as long as I can remember. In high school I used to frequent a thrift shop in town that had Half-Price Mondays where I would load up a basket full of vintage scarves, brooches, clip on earrings, swing skirts and saddle shoes to take home with me. I love classic cars, listening to vinyl records, adorning my dining table with seasoned and nicked Pyrex serving bowls; tucking my girls into their beds under matching handmade quilts that I bought at an Estate Sale at a sleep-away camp in the middle of the North Woods. I love to buy things with a story.
When we first moved here last year I could not wait to go to this Market and for good reason: it’s amazing. Truly. Full to the absolute brim–treasures everywhere you look. I usually have a small army of children whining in their strollers which makes shopping the small booths more difficult but this past weekend I got to tag along with my parents sans-kids and I really got to dig.
The Market has 200 vendors inside and 200 vendors outside. It’s tucked away in the beautiful Allegan County Fairgrounds and truly is something to experience. If you ever want to make the trip up there are two more shows scheduled this Season–the last Sunday in August and September, respectively.
Parking: I have learned my lesson the hard way and always ALWAYS enter the grounds through Davis Street now. The times that I’ve gone there have been no lines to get in and you don’t have to drive down a row of people to get to the back lot. There is typically ample parking in the morning and it’s close enough to the bulk of the vendors, the ATM, restrooms And Big Moe’s BBQ cart my LORD. Plus you don’t have to drive your stroller through the GD muddy grass. It’s $4 per adult to park, not per car so bring some cash.
Kids: Single stroller friendly, but I use my double anyway and usually hate myself for doing it. And people will stare at you like you’re inconveniencing them with your children but I paid the same entrance fee as you Karen soooo mind your own businessssss. I bring a muslin blanket to cover the stroller because there are a lot of booths that aren’t shaded and if I bribe them with food they typically behave. There are food vendors for all of your bribery needs.
The Goods: Man. There is SO much to see. Flea Market prices in some booths, boutique prices in others. You may see a cranky farmer trying to sell his barn kittens but other than that everything is well-curated. Adam and I went to a flea market once that was highly rated on Google and they literally had livestock and guns for sale so trust me when I say this one checks out.
The downside to the size of the market is that there is so much stuff that it almost feels overwhelming and when I am in that state of mind I usually don’t buy anything so here are my Market Tips:
- Make a list. This seems incredibly obvious but when you’re looking at a piece and wondering where the hell you’re going to put it, a list helps. Even if you write “picture for above toilet” or something, it puts the idea into motion and you’ll be drawn to the booths that will check that off the list. If you’re looking for furniture always take measurements for the space you’ll be filling at home so you don’t have to call your husband from the market and have him attempt to use a tape measure while your children hang off of him like wild screaming baboons.
- Make a budget. Take the max amount you would be willing to spend out in Cash and try to stay under it. That way things are easier to walk away from and you don’t come home with a trunk full of mannequin parts or a creepy antique wheelchair or something because the vendor said they accepted Credit Cards.
- Don’t be afraid to haggle a bit. I 100% cringed every single time anyone came into the Antique store I used to work at asking me to lower prices but here it’s acceptable. If you see something you really love, don’t be afraid to ask the vendor if they’d take a little less for it–especially if it’s a big item. Chances are they don’t want to have to haul it back out at the end of the show. My only exception is if something is handmade because you’re basically saying that their hard work isn’t worth that much money and I am not a dick so the price is the price.
- Give yourself some time. I’m talking at least 3 hours. That way you can explore, shop and drink a dang Lemon Shake-Up. And when you’re done shopping you can drive to Fennville or Saugatuck for lunch and a beer and go to the beach or whatever floats your day-trip boat.
Happy treasure hunting, friends!