John's top picks for flea markets! My parents are the reason I am so crazy about flea markets and vintage things in general. Not because they were too, but the opposite—they were obsessed with what was modern and new! In the ‘70s we had a color blocked purple and orange kitchen with psychedelic carpeting (I’m not kidding). In the 80’s the whole house became Armani-style elegant neutrals. So needless to say, I rebelled—with mid-century modern chairs, heavy Victorian mirrors, sleek Deco tables and kitchy Elvis lamps. Then I started making jewelry, depending on finds from the past to create something new… Flea marketing went from a hobby to a profession!
TOP 6 FLEA MARKETS:
PORTOBELLO ROAD, LONDON, ENGLAND —London is where I really came to love the fleas, and while I explored others (Camden, Brick Lane, Bermondsey, Covent Garden…), Portobello Road is the most iconic, most English, and deservedly, the most famous.
Expert Tip: Yes, it's pretty touristy at Portobello Road these days, but you can still find good things. For the best pick, make sure to arrive as early as possible!
MARCHEE AUX PUCES, PARIS, FRANCE —Located in Porte de Clignancourt, this ‘Market of the Fleas’ is practically a town in itself, with a dozen separate markets covering everything from furniture and fabulous store fixtures to vintage clothing and jewelry.
Insider Story: One of my favorite visits there was with my friend Keith Johnson, then the antiques buyer from Anthropologie. He had a great eye and a hundred plus stores to buy for, so naturally we got a lot of attention and red carpet treatment~ it's a great place to find those Anthro-esque home furnishings!
BRIMFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS, USA —This one's the mother of all US flea markets, a sprawling multi-day affair that's big in an 'only in America' kind of way. Serious antiquers plan their year around it!
Expert Tip: The dates of the show change each year, and different fields are open on different days, so you need to go with a plan. Visiting the website (link above) will help!
THE OLD CITY, JERUSALEM, ISRAEL —Not a flea market in the usual sense, but the narrow streets of the Old City are lined with vendors selling old and new jewelry, clothing, spices and dried fruits, home accents, religious icons and so much more!
Expert Tip: Be prepared for boisterous shopkeepers who are used to bargaining.
What to Buy: Geometric mother-of-pearl inlaid boxes and accessories from Syria.
BROOKLYN FLEA, NEW YORK, USA—It's cool to watch flea markets be reinvented for the next generation. In addition to the usual variety, there's a decidely 'hipster' element at play here, fun to see and discover!
What to Buy: Mid Century Modern furniture and the latest in fashion trends.
ROUNDTOP, TEXAS, USA—Full disclosure—this one I haven’t been to yet, but I’m dying to! It sounds like Brimfield, but ‘Texas Style’. And I love the mix of Southwest style with European antiques and Latin American craft that I imagine I’d find there…
Has anyone been to Roundtop? What are your tips?