Last Sunday I went to the famed Alameda Flea Market with a few friends and my mom. I have gotten a lot of questions about the flea market in general and the rug I purchased (which you can see below and on my Instagram), so I wanted to share a recap of my experience and some tips to navigating the large market.
The Alameda Flea Market is the largest antiques market in Northern California, with over 800 vendors and it only happens the first Sunday of every month. I like getting to any flea market early especially one as large as this, so we arrived around 7:15am. It costs $15 if you get there before 7:30am, but it is definitely worth it. The crowds are much thinner and all of the booths have their best stuff in the early morning.
The best advice I can offer is to go in with a solid game plan of what you’re looking for. Although it is fun to roam around and look at everything, you can often end up spending more money if you don’t have items in mind that you want to purchase. Also, come prepared with cash. Even though most booths take a credit card, it is easier to bargain on a piece if you have cash and some of the rug vendors are cash only. This makes having a game plan even more crucial because you don’t want to keep running back to the ATM to take more cash out.
My main reason for going to the flea market was to find a vintage rug to layer over our existing rug in the living room. With my job I source a lot of small vintage rugs, so I had a good idea of what I wanted to spend (ideally no more than $300 for a 5 x 7). If you are interested in purchasing a rug I recommend looking them up on Etsy to get an idea of what the style costs. That way you likely won’t get ripped off and can feel confident in your purchase.
I knew the style rug I wanted and the coloring, but I didn’t see anything until about halfway through. The vendor wanted a little more than I was willing to pay and was not interested in bargaining, so I passed and kept going, but I kept comparing every other rug to that. Sometimes it is nice to take a mental note of where you saw something, but do a good loop of the market to make sure you don’t see something very similar at a cheaper price point. Eventually I went back to the original rug I had seen and asked my friends to bargin with the vendor (because I just get scared and agree to their original price) he came down in price a little bit and I finally got a vintage turkish rug in great condition (for $280) which I love. The next Alameda flea market is on Sunday March 5th. You can head to their website to get information about parking, shuttles and directions.