One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and for Keith Johnson, the quest for those treasures is a full-time job.
As Anthropologie‘s buyer-at-large and the host of Man Shops Globe on the Sundance Channel, Johnson travels far and wide to the world’s most remote flea markets and bazaars. His goal? To discover the exceptionally rare furniture and accessories that outfit 115 Anthropologie stores nationwide as well as his three homes.
Johnson knows that finding gems at cluttered flea markets can be like finding a needle in a haystack, so he shared a few of his tips with the Wall Street Journal.
“The most important thing is to have an agenda for what you want your place to look like,” he says. “It shouldn’t be dictated by the find; the find should be dictated by the plan.”
Next, he suggests arriving to flea markets and bazaars early to beat the crowds. Upon arrival, “run— don’t walk,” he explains. Scope everything out and ask sellers to reserve pieces that really stand out. “Later, I come back with a fine-toothed comb.”
When it comes to haggling over price, there is etiquette to be followed. In most countries, offering more than 50 percent less than the asking price will insult sellers, so make a first offer that is between 10 and 30 percent below the suggested price.
Once items are purchased, care for them by lightly dusting away any visible dirt. “You don’t want to scrub it and remove the patina.”
Finally, Johnson stresses the importance of enjoying the items once they’re brought into the home. “I tend to get things that can take abuse,” he says. “I don’t like the idea of living in a museum.”
With Johnson’s tips, you’ll be able to hold your own as you haggle over prices at the world’s flea markets and bazaars. Here are our picks (in no particular order) for the 12 best markets worldwide.
1. Brooklyn Flea Market, Brooklyn, New York, USA
For an expansive collection of vintage jewelry and clothing, make a stop at one of Brooklyn Flea’s three locations. Open every Saturday in Fort Greene and every Sunday in DUMBO. Both markets are open 10 am-5 pm, April through November. From January through March, the Flea will also be open indoors at the former bank at One Hanson.
2. El Rastro, Madrid, Spain
Comb through the tables of El Rastro’s 3,500 vendors and find everything from leather goods to vintage photography equipment. Be mindful of your belongings, though— El Rastro is the stomping ground of some of the world’s sneakiest pick-pockets. Open Sundays from 9 am to 3 pm, weather permitting, between Plaza Mayor, La Latina, and Puerta de Toledo.
3. Les Puces de Saint-Ouen, Paris, France
Hunt for WWII-era trinkets and heirloom furniture from 350 vendors at this legendary Paris market. Open Saturday through Monday from 7:30 am to 6 pm at 48, Rue Jules Valles (Marche des Antiquaires).
4. Plaza Dorrego, Buenos Aires, Argentina
A visit to Plaza Dorrego in San Telmo is a must for anyone traveling to Buenos Aires, where visitors can peruse jewelry and old books while Argentine tango dancers and folk singers perform throughout the day. Open Sundays from 10 am to 5 pm at Plaza Dorrego in San Telmo.
5. Chandni Chowk, Delhi, India
Sample India’s finest delicacies while digging for exotic textiles and silver jewelry in this Indian market, which is organized into lanes that each have a specific theme depending on the products sold there. Open everyday except Sunday near Old Delhi Railroad Station.
6. Annex/ Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market, New York, USA
At this famed outdoor market, score vintage sunglasses and second-hand housewares. Celebs like Barbara Streisand and Britney Spears have been known to frequent this popular shopping spot. Open Saturdays and Sundays from 9 am to 6 pm at West 39th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues.
7. Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey
Home to 5,000 shops spread over 60 streets, Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar is a mecca for coral and turquoise jewelry, mother-of-pearl mirrors, and glasswares. Open Monday through Saturday between 9 am and 7 pm at 42 Sultanahmet.
8. Portobello Road Market, London, England
The Portobello Road Market boasts highly sought after furniture and second-hand clothing. Stretching across two miles, it’s the world’s largest antique market. Open Monday through Saturday between 8 am and 6:30 pm (except for Thursdays when it closes at 1pm) on Portobello Road in the Notting Hill neighborhood of West London.
9. Temple Street Night Market, Hong Kong, China
Haggle for treasures and shop for contemporary merchandise beneath the stars at this bustling street fair. Open daily from 4 pm to midnight on Temple Street.
10. Naviglio Antiques Market, Milan, Italy
Crowds stroll up and down the Naviglio Grande and Pavese canals in search of old prints, silverware, and porcelain. Open the last Sunday of each month (except July) along the banks of the Naviglio canals.
11. Feira de Ladra, Lisbon, Portugal
Handmade artisan goods, stamps, coins, and furniture are all for sale at Feira de Ladra, which opened for trade during the 17th century. Open Tuesdays and Saturdays from dawn to dusk on Campo de Santa Clara.
12. Jaffa Flea Market, Tel Aviv, Israel
Wander alongside architectural marvels and historical buildings to scoop up furniture, beaded jewelry, and antique toys. Open Sunday through Thursday from 10 am to 6 pm and on Friday from 10 am to 2 pm on Yefet Street.
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