Flea markets are filled with inexpensive, well made, vintage and antique furniture. So we, Terry Kovel and Lauren, our graphic designer, decided to shop for furnishings for Lauren’s new house. We went to a flea market on the fairgrounds in Burton, Ohio. Perfect day, sunny and hot, and it wasn’t crowded because we paid extra to get in “early bird.” It makes shopping easier and the best things haven’t been sold. Most people turn right and the path fills up quickly, so we went counter-clockwise around the horse track where the market was waiting.

The best buys were metal furniture from the 1950s to ʼ80s, outdoor chairs and tables, and indoor breakfast room sets. Oak furniture has gone way down in price in the past 10 years, possibly because it was so popular and myriad reproductions were made. There were few antique wooden pieces. Most were regional country pieces. A dealer with a top-quality period wooden breakfront, table, desk, chair, or bookcase would be foolish to bring it to the all-outdoor Burton flea market. Sun, wind, travel, and the dusty racetrack do not make a favorable environment. There were a few large ultra-modern glass and chrome pieces, and they were marked sold when we saw them.

Suitcases to use as storage or tables, one-drawer Sheraton style bedside tables, long refinished tables from industrial plants that were almost too big for a dining room, and recycled or reworked unique pieces were plentiful. Chests of drawers and the few tall informal breakfronts sold the first hour, proving storage space was important. There were also the usual “smalls,” costume jewelry, iron pans, clothes, folk art, useful glassware, and even matchbox covers, piles of silver-plated spoons, bottles, and vintage toys. We concentrated on the furniture. We knew that when flea market shopping, you “haggle.” Ask if you can pay less than the price tag amount.

What Lauren bought

Was the day a success? It was fun and great exercise and Lauren took four large pieces home in her van. She liked a mirror trimmed with sections of an embossed tin ceiling that was $150. It is now hanging in her hallway. Nearby is a wood and iron shelf that could be attached to the wall that was $20. The piece of furniture she most hoped to find was this wooden hall tree, $20. It is near the front door because she doesn’t have a front closet for guests to use. Everyone seems to buy something for fun and she got a pair of wooden candlesticks with old peeling paint. They were part of a group of wooden pieces from a factory, but the dealer couldn’t tell us what they were used for. Price for the pair, $8.