Tips for an adventure at the Rose Bowl flea market

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From shabby chic dressers to turn-of-the-century bric-a-brac, there's something for everyone at the Rose Bowl flea market.

Supposedly, it’s the beginning of the end of the recession, but that doesn’t mean shoppers need to revert back to their pre-downturn spending.  Rather than buying brand-new items, consumers are heading to flea markets to buy used furniture and other products, resulting in a 10- to 15 percent increase in foot traffic.

The crowds definitely showed up at the Rose Bowl flea market in Pasadena, and as a first-timer to the overwhelming shopping experience, this blogger could not believe her eyes at the endless rows of awesome mid century modern furniture, antique knick-knacks and random oddities.  Though regular adult admission is $8; we definitely got our money’s worth; among some of our finds included a vintage framed picture of Mont St. Michel for $15, a Danish modern chair for $35 and mid century dark wood magazine rack for $20.

To get an idea of the market’s massiveness, we arrived shortly after 11 a.m. and had barely finished browsing the antiques section by 2:30 p.m. as vendors started packing up their shops.  After strolling through one row of the other side of the market, which consisted mainly of vintage clothing, we called it a day and headed home with our new (old) wares.

For more photos, plus a few tips  if you decide to check it out for yourself (the next one is Sunday, September 13), are after the jump.

Whether you have your eye set on a particular thing-a-ma-bob or you’re out to simply browse, here are a few tips for the Rose Bowl swap meet (or any other flea market):

  • CASH VS. CREDIT. If you plan on having an intense shopping spree, bring lots of cash.  Though there are ATMs, they’ll charge you a fee, and nobody likes frivolous fees in a recession, right?  Some vendors do take credit cards, but you can probably haggle better with the real green than the fake.
  • EARLY BIRD/VIP ADMISSION.  If you’re serious about snagging the best deals and don’t want to wait until 9 a.m. for the flea market’s general public opening time, consider VIP entry from 5 to 7 a.m. for $20, early bird admission for $15 to get in from 7 to 8 a.m., or express admission at $10 for 8 to 9 a.m. entry.  However, some vendors might not be completely set up until 9 a.m.
  • BAGS/ROLLING CARTS. Bring plenty of bags for small- to medium-sized items; some vendors don’t have any, plus it’s better for the environment to reuse.  If you plan on getting lots of stuff, bring in your own rolling cart.  There are some available for purchase for $25 to $50 at the flea market as well.  If you’re going to buy larger items, like furniture, there’s also a 15-minute car loading area and plenty of delivery people available to help you.
  • HATS/SUNSCREEN. If you’re not an early bird and plan on getting there until around noon, make sure to wear a hat and/or plenty of sunscreen (In addition to some nice trinkets, this blogger also brought home a nice tan line).
  • FOOD & SNACKS.  You’re probably going to the market to get some great deals, but what you won’t find are affordable food prices.  If you don’t want to pay $3.75 for your run-of-the-mill bottled water or $8 for a burrito that usually only costs half that price at a taco truck, consider eating a big meal before you go or pack your own water and snacks.
  • LAST-MINUTE BARGAINING.  Many vendors start packing about an hour before the flea market, so if that antique desk you’d been eyeing since you arrived is miraculously still there, try cutting a deal with the seller.  Sometimes they’d rather sell it for a bit cheaper instead of having to pack it up unsold.

If you don’t want to wait a month for the next Rose Bowl flea market, here are a few others (some are free!):

  • Silver Lake Flea Market, every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Micheltorena Elementary School, 1511 Micheltorena St., L.A. 90026.  FREE.
  • Glendale Community College Swap Meet, 3rd Sunday of the month from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.  1500 N. Verdugo Rd., Glendale, 91208; located in parking lot on Mountain Street off the 2 freeway. FREE admission, $2 parking fee.
  • Pasadena City College Flea Market, 1st Sunday of the month from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.  1570 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, 91106. FREE admission, $2 parking fee.
  • Santa Monica Airport Antiques & Collectibles Market, 1st and 4th Sundays of the month from various times.  First Sunday: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., $4.  Fourth Sunday: 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. early entry, $7; 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., $5.  Free parking.
  • John Muir Elementary Flea Market in Santa Monica, 1st and 3rd Saturdays of the month from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.  2510 Lincoln Blvd. (at the corner of Ocean Park Boulevard), Santa Monica, 90405.

Check Collectors.org’s full list of Southern California flea markets too.

Up next…A blog post about North Hollywood’s own antique row!

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One response to “Tips for an adventure at the Rose Bowl flea market

  1. Woo!
    I love this flea market.
    Good bloggy!