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The Do’s and Don’ts of Shopping For Antiques at Flea Markets and Garage Sales

The flea market and garage sale season are always popular. Here’s what you need to know to make your next flea market or garage sale outing a success.

DO arrive early. This is true for flea markets and garage sales. The good stuff really does get snapped up quickly. Remember you’ll have lots of competition from professional dealers to part time eBayers to the flea market and garage sale junkies who all start at the crack of dawn.

DO look for items with potential. A fresh coat of paint can revitalize an old chair. Old rubber boots and cracked teapots make great planters. Vintage ladders can store magazines or towels. Vintage lead glass windows can be fastened together to make screens or fashioned into mirrors.

DO be careful rummaging through boxes. Boxes of kitchen utensils may contain rusty sharp objects.

DO run your finger over the edges of glassware and dishes to check for chips and cracks.

DO have measurements and floor plans handy. You don’t want to get home and realize that your beautiful purchase won’t fit in the desired space or more importantly it won’t even fit through the door.

DO have the right gear. Bring a measuring tape, note pad and pencils.

DO have a rolling basket to cart around your purchases at a flea market.

DO take your item away right away. You don’t want to run the risk of returning at the end of the day to pick up a large purchase to find that the seller hands you back your money because he accepted a higher offer.

DO know the value of merchandise so you’ll know if you’re getting a deal.

DO check marks on silver and porcelain. So have your pocket reference guides handy.

DO target garage sales close to affluent areas because they’re likely to have good stuff.

DO negotiate. Now is the time to haggle. But you should always have a top price in mind and be prepared to walk away if the price is too high.

DO buy a number of things from one seller. The seller is likely to give you a good price to buyers who purchase more than one thing. You’ll usually come out ahead.

DO ask the seller his price. You don’t want the seller to ask you how much you are willing to pay because you may mention a price higher than what the seller was thinking.

DO bring cash. Bring some small bills. Don’t pull out a $20 to pay for a $3 item.

DO check for the return policy at a flea market. Most likely there isn’t one.

DON’T get too excited. Remain calm, cool and collected when you see something that you love. Gushing over a piece is sure to send the price skyward.

DON’T buy the first thing you see at a flea market. Do a quick walk about the flea market to check all the goods. You don’t want to be disappointed when you see something that you like better two aisles over.

DON’T make impulse purchases because they likely will become merchandise for your own garage sale down the road.

DON’T look too good. Leave the fancy car, jewelry and togs at home. This will help with the haggling. Sellers won’t budge too much on price if they think that you can afford to pay more for it.

Make Money Tearing Up Old Books and Magazines and Selling Them on eBay

Vintage books and magazines were packed with prints and advertisements and other paper items which are not only interesting, but very collectable, and profitable, too. So many things derived from these old publications are hot sellers on eBay including: prints, advertisements, knitting and other craftwork patterns, recipes, how to articles, historical articles, music scores, stories and other out of copyright material … etc., etc, etc.

Let me introduce you to just a few of these easy to find items.


Old prints are valuable collectors’ pieces and there’s a good income to be made simply from packaging prints neatly and categorizing them according to theme, eBay’s best sellers being: animals, sports (especially golf and horse racing), royalty, music hall artists, topographical (named locations) and children.


Advertisements were often hugely ornate, colored or black and white, photographic or artist-drawn. Whatever shape they take, framed and unframed, mounted and unmounted advertisements are very popular on eBay where only recently an advertisement placed by a slave trader in The Memphis Daily Avalanche in 1859 fetched $200.


‘Clippings’, sometimes called ‘Cuttings’ as both names suggest, are simply items cut from books and other printed publications. They can be large or small, or even comprise entire sections of a book linked to a specific theme. They can fetch high prices on eBay as did a 1909 article about the magician Houdini that went for $200 in May 2005 and clippings of Rudolph Valentino fetched $305 at around the same time.

Gifts and Advertising Novelties from Early Publications

Early publications often contained useful free gifts for readers, some of which are profitable collectors’ items today. The most common free gifts were advertising inserts and sometimes advertising blotters, rulers, children’s painting books and maps. Maps are particularly prolific in older books and are amongst eBay’s highest priced items, such as the 1873 Beers Atlas of Maps of Long Island New York which recently fetch over $2,000 and a Mitchell’s Map of Missouri and Arkansas found folded inside a tatty old book from 1937 that reached $1702.


Some early publications, larger ones, had double center page spreads that make great posters and prints. They can fetch bids of $20 and more. As for all publications, learn to specialize, and look for special interest magazines, targeting a specific audience, say dog lovers, train enthusiasts, classic cars, and so on. This way you gain experience about specific subjects and the person to buy from on eBay.

Fancy Dress

Another very easy project where all you have to do is look for copyright-free patterns and designs which you can combine into books or sell individually. They are all great sellers on eBay especially for traditional fancy dress anniversaries such as Halloween.


The secret here is to look for copyright-free cartoons which you can copy and mount or frame as they are or revamp to suit today’s market. As for other copyright-free material, although there is no law against lifting and using cartoons, it is arguably immoral and unethical to claim the work as your own.

Cater for Lovers …. Of Anything and Everything!

Actually, that title is a little misleading because this project covers virtually every interest for which there is a large, better still, indeterminate audience. Books and such compiled here can be sold in printed, CD or downloadable fashion on eBay.

This is my particular favorite and, arguably, the easiest to profit from. All you do here is clip, collect and collate as many snippets as you can relating to one particular subject or theme. Cats, dogs, golf, writing, children, Amish recipes, fortune-telling, witchcraft, and more, are useful ideas for books that are simply compilations of everything you find on the topic.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1001 Great Golfing Jokes

Everything You Didn’t Know About Cats

Psychic Cat and Dog Stories

1001 Great Dating Tips

500 Amish Recipes

Candles and Witchcraft: Ten True Stories to Brighten Your Life

50 Ways to Reduce Everyday Stress

101 Ways to Market Your Writing

Early Veterinary Practices

Let Grandma’s Kitchen Make Money For You

There’s money to be made from compiling early recipes in book or report form for selling in print, CD or via email attachment from eBay listings. Recipes don’t need to be popular today; you might research and write up on some of the far less appetizing dishes our ancestors might have ‘enjoyed’ centuries before.

Knitting Patterns

Knitting and other craftwork patterns are hugely popular sellers on eBay, especially unusual and niche market types, such as dolls’ clothing, war-time economy designs, clothes for animals, and so on. Again, look for out-of-copyright items and other patterns that never had legal copyright. Many old publications included free patterns as loose items or pull-out publications which need no additional work on them to sell. However, you are not always allowed to copy these items so where you have a good seller, work hard to obtain as many copies of the parent copy publication as possible.

So many books and magazines available, so many ways to make money from them, so what are you waiting for!

Failure Is A Learning Curve Part One

Before I started my internet marketing business I was involved in several other business opportunities many years ago and there were reasons why I didn’t see them through to the end. Now these opportunities were genuine and had excellent potential to make me a huge profit!

So what happened and why didn’t they work for me? Well I’ll tell you what they were all about and why I failed at them.

Back in 1999 I was introduced to a fantastic opportunity to sell website packages to businesses. These were sites that the owners could update themselves and back then this was a relatively new thing.

I would earn £350 for the lowest priced package and could earn up to £850 on the highest priced package. This was an opportunity not to be missed. However, there were other fees that I had to pay.

I had to pay £100 per month for this opportunity but still could be highly profitable as just one sale per month would easily cover this.

What I didn’t really think about was how to market this product. The best way would’ve been to approach businesses, but I was in a full time job and found that this would be very difficult to do.

I have never been involved in sales before either so the thought of walking into a business and trying to sell them something was extremely daunting!

So being naïve I thought that I could just place ads in a magazine and sales would poor in. After placing my ad in a magazine which cost me a small fortune I waited for a response. I waited and waited and guess what… nothing.

My money may as well have been flushed down the toilet! I then took out another ad in a business start up magazine. This gave me some response and a sale. The sale covered the cost of the ad but no profit.

So in the end I didn’t want to risk anymore money, I just didn’t have the time to visit companies or the confidence to walk into their premises to sell them something and so I decided to give it up.

But then another opportunity rolled up. One which could make me lots of money again and instantly I could see the massive potential.

This was getting businesses to use email marketing promotions which I handled for them. I would give them a box with forms attached which would sit on their counter. Their customers would fill in the form with their name and email and place it in the box if they wanted to receive promotional offers from the company via email.

I would collect the forms and send the emails to their customers with their promotional offer. I got everything I needed to run the business but then it came to selling it again. I realised that I was in the same boat as before… I would need to go out selling!

I just couldn’t imagine myself going out and selling and I was not going to spend lots of money on advertising again! So I gave up again without even trying to promote it.

Some time later another business opportunity came my way. This time it was an offline marketing business. How this worked was I would put up boards in pubs, community centres, gyms, libraries etc where many local people go.

These boards were not just plain boards, they had a centre part where local people could put personal ads in it and the businesses would have professional looking ads around the edge.

It was a great idea and this time I was going to go out and sell it. I decided to face my fear and approach companies!

I managed to get my local pub to sign up for a board which was free to them. He gave me a couple of businesses to visit to see if they would like a space on my board. I was feeling great at this point I could actually make some progress.

So, feeling good that things were looking up and I had some referrals from the landlord I decided I’m going to go for it and approach these businesses.

I sat at home rehearsing my sales pitch. After a lot of thinking and anxiety building up I could’ve easily just stayed home and shut myself in… but… this was it… I gave myself I kick up the rear end and went for it!

I got in my car and rolled up to the first business on my list. It was a bed and breakfast. I sat in my car for a bit thinking about what I was going to say and anxiety started building up again… I could’ve easily have just turned round and gone home!