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Antiques Fair at St Sulpice, Paris

st sulpice, Antiques Markets in Paris, Paris Flea Markets, Flea Market tips, Brocantes,

Oh la la… it’s that time of year again in Paris when the Square at St Sulpice fills with antique vendors for the Antiquities Brocante at St Sulpice.  Starting today June 18 this French Flea Market runs until June 29, 2014. While we love shopping the Paris Flea Market and the Porte de Vanves market, we also offer Off the Beaten Path Brocante Tours visiting traveling flea markets around the city of light in special locations in famous squares and along the boulevards!  Some of the best bargains and most unusual pieces can be found at these traveling short term markets.

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Flea Market Do’s and Dont’s

Dear Diva Readers,

My Diva Guides and I are constantly shopping Europe’s best flea markets helping clients find the perfect pieces.  Over the years of shopping abroad I’ve learned the do’s and don’ts of flea marketing and I want to share some of that hard earned knowledge with you so that you’ll be ready to hunt for your perfect pieces.

Flea  Marketing Tips, Buying antiques in Europe, Sourcing antiques in France, Brocante, Paris Flea Market, The Antiques Diva

European Flea Market Tip # 1- The first bit of advice is to follow the Boy Scout mantra, “Always be prepared.”  Come with a shopping tote, extra bags, plenty of cash, handy wipes and a tape measure.  Bring paint or fabric swatches if you’re looking for a specific room in your home.  As markets are usually outside, wear sunglasses– but hope for rain – and pack an umbrella.  (Vendors are more likely to bargain in the rain because they have less customers.)  Wear comfortable shoes and dress in layers.  The key difference between shopping in Europe and North America comes down to STYLE – in Europe you need to dress up a bit more.   No sweat suits. Nor white tennis shoes. One Parisian dealer complained about a running-suit clad client of mine explaining his lack of a discount was because of her appearance…. “But I have to look at her! She should make an effort! Non?” 

Flea  Marketing Tips, Buying antiques in Europe, Sourcing antiques in France, Brocante, Paris Flea Market, The Antiques Diva

European Flea Market Tip # 2Come Early or Stay Late.  Early birds get the BEST selection of inventory – but not necessarily the best prices.  Late shoppers not only get more beauty sleep but are much more likely to get a bargain.  When there is an object I adore that’s beyond my price range I stalk it. I show up at the same booth several times in one day until the vendor says “You again?”  The more times a vendor sees you the more serious they know you are and the better the price becomes. I used this strategy in Paris buying a Louis XV commode. At the start of the day the vendor priced the item 1800 Euro.  By the end of the day, I paid 1000 E cold hard cash.

Flea  Marketing Tips, Buying antiques in Europe, Sourcing antiques in France, Brocante, Paris Flea Market, The Antiques Diva

European Flea Market Tip # 3  – Cash is King.  Most flea markets don’t accept credit cards.  And for those that do,  paying cash will always get you the better bargain.  A lot of people find negotiating difficult and there are a few easy strategies. A polite way to ask for a discount is to say “Is this the best price?”  Another option is to offer the price you’re willing to pay.  “This is marked 75 Euro.  Will you take 50Euro?”  Note prices in European flea markets tend to be a little higher than in American flea markets because the inventory is MUCH OLDER.  You can’t expect to buy a 150 Euro silver set for the same price as a 20 year old set in America.  Be reasonable. Don’t insult the vendor by offering too little.   Lastly a 3rd strategy for getting a discount is bundling.  The more you buy from one vendor the better the price becomes.  At the last minute –  just as I’m paying if I’m feeling cheeky   – I will pick up a small item and wink at the vendor asking “And this… this is a gift for me!?!”  You would be surprised how many vendors laugh and say yes.

Flea  Marketing Tips, Buying antiques in Europe, Sourcing antiques in France, Brocante, Paris Flea Market, The Antiques Diva

European Flea Market Tip #4  – Be friendly – and ladies – don’t be afraid to flirt!  The adage about catching more flies with honey is true.  Ask questions.  Ask its age, style, period, place of origin and material.  Be inquisitive.  The more interest you show the more likely the vendor is to make a special price.

Flea  Marketing Tips, Buying antiques in Europe, Sourcing antiques in France, Brocante, Paris Flea Market, The Antiques Diva

European Flea Market Tip #5 – At the end of the day… if you love it, if you can afford it, if you want it – buy it!  Flea marketing is meant to be fun and if hard-core bargaining takes the joy out of shopping don’t be afraid to pay full price.  Vendors will love you for it.  Set a budget for your day. Determine how much you are willing to spend and go have fun. Don’t think too long on purchases.  Ask yourself, “If I walk away from this item, am I going to be disappointed if it’s not there when I return?”   If the answer is yes.  Buy it.

Et voila – Keep these 5 Antiques Diva Flea Marketing Tips in mind when you hit the markets and you’ll be well on your way to shopping Diva Style!

Happy hunting,

The Antiques Diva®

Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, Flea Marketing in Europe, Sourcing antiques in France and England,

Repurposing Flea Market Finds

Dear Diva Readers,

Flea marketing is a European past-time that locals and tourists indulge in alike.  At The Antiques Diva & Co we are constantly taking clients to flea markets in all of our 8 tour countries, which means we see a lot of inventory! Flea markets can be overwhelming, but if you know what to look for – and what to do with those things you find –  bargains can abound.  Today I want to share with you some of my favorite ways you can repurpose items found at the flea market.  Hmmm… now that I think about it, I should have titled this blog “Flea Market Finds and How They Get Their Groove Back”.

Repurposed antiques, repurposed flea market finds,

Turn On A Slew of Ideas for Repurposing Flea Market Finds with Pinterest


Repurposed flea market finds, buying antiques in europe

Turn On A Slew of Ideas for Repurposing Flea Market Finds with Pinterest

1.  I think one of the biggest bargains at a flea market is on lighting.  Whether you’re buying traditional crystal laden chandeliers, funky vintage fixtures from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s or table top lamps, prices at the puce in Paris can be up to 10x cheaper than in a retail shop.  But you don’t just have to buy ready-made lamps – the flea market is a virtual lamp supply store for people with an eye for repurposing.  All you need to do is go to your local hardware store, pick up a lamp kit and then scan the market for something you can use for a base.  It needs to be sturdy enough to stand on its own after you add the lamp apparatus and shade on top.  Bottles and vases make obvious choices, but think outside the box. You can make a lamp base out of anything: a stack of antique books, an old type writer, a vintage camera, a teapot, a stack of mixing bowls or even stacked pasta strainers.  Any old bucket will do. What about a tripod or a mannequin, statues or even old dolls?  Ideas for repurposed lighting are endless.  And we haven’t even started talking about what you could do with the shades!  Rip the fabric off a lamp shade and string the frame with vintage crystal for a shabby chateau look.  Drill holes through the end of vintage cutlery and string them on a lamp frame to put in on a dining room lamp.   Sconces are a breeze to make from old plates or hand held mirrors.

Scarf repurposing, flea market finds, buying antiques in europe, The Antiques Diva

Check Out More Scarf Repurposing Ideas on my Pinterest page

2.  Vintage scarves are not only chic but also cheap.  And while they can update your wardrobe in a flash, they are positively perfect for home décor.  Frame brightly colored scarves for instant artwork.  Sew on backing – et voila – you’ve got throw pillows.  Patchwork scarves together for Bohemian draperies or for a no-sew-solution simply tie or drape a scarf across a window for a burst of color.  Hint: if you’re a hopeless seamstress you can buy iron-on tape to use in lieu of a needle and threat.   When shopping for scarves look for quality.  And while silk is always gorgeous don’t turn your nose up at a vintage rayon blend – this artificial fabric actually adds to their durability.  The stiffer the scarf the easier it can be converted into purses and bags, slinky summer tops or even skirts.  And the next time you need to give a gift, why buy wrapping paper when you can wrap the present with – what else? – a vintage scarf!

Flea market finds, gift ideas porcelain, brocantes, paris flea market

Vintage Gift Ideas

3.  You would never believe it – but the flea market is the perfect place to purchase presents. Forget going to a registry next time someone is getting married – go to the flea market and buy crystal wine glasses and a decanter.  Add a bottle of wine and an antique cork screw and you’ve got a perfect present for honeymooners (or any oenophile for that matter).  Put together a Mad Men basket for a university graduate – source martini shakers and vintage cocktail napkins, cocktail forks and little hors d’oeuvre plates. You can often find leather boxes or small trunks – pack it all away and tie the box with an old tie to make your bow.  Know someone having a baby? What about an antique silver baby rattle?  Buy antique linens and sew up gorgeous burp clothes.  Tuck into the package a bottle of The Laundress All Purpose Bleach Alternative so the young mum can safely whiten, brighten and disinfect.  Frame antique children’s clothes – bonnets, christening gowns and shoes to decorate a baby’s room. For the teenage girl, glue old jewelry onto a headband or a picture frame.  Bridal magazines are filled with images of antique broaches being used in lieu of flowers in wedding floral arrangements.  Keep your eyes out for unique cutlery and serving platters – and stock up.  Next time you’re invited to attend a party pull out a vintage platter and tell the hostess “Keep the Edwardian serving tray! I bought it just for you!”  Go a step further and stock up on antique silver accessories and get them monogrammed with your hosts initials or seeking out silver already monogrammed with your friends initials!

Pinsperation, bedroom decor, wooden door headboard, repurposing antiques, flea market finds,The Antiques Diva

Check out Pinterest for More Pinspiration for Bedroom Décor

Pinsperation, bedroom decor, wooden door headboard, repurposing antiques, flea market finds,The Antiques Diva

Check out Pinterest for More Pinspiration for Bedroom Décor

Office Decor ideas, repurposing flea market finds, mirrors

Check Out More Diva-Worthy Ideas for Office Décor

4.  Using architectural salvage in home renovations is all the rage at the moment – but even if you’re not doing a home renovation these items can be great used as decoration.  The impromptu headboard is perhaps the most classic use for architectural salvage – doors, shutters, garden gates all make gorgeous backdrops.  If you’re not handy find a good upholsterer and ask them to help you convert fireplace mantle into a padded headboard.

Repurposed Porcelain, repurposed flea market finds, lighting

Love this Repurposed Porcelain Idea

5.  China and Porcelain are available by the car load at the markets.  Whether buying one offs that you mix and match or entire sets, get out your hammer and start breaking these plates and saucers into teeny tiny bits and bobs.  Voila – you have mosaic material.  Now find something you want to mosaic.  You can mosaic anything from the side table to a tea pot to a broken violin and create your own unique art (and get rid of a lot of pent up aggression).  If a full-on craft project is more than you bargained for, add magnets to the back – et voila – refrigerator art.  Mix and match various patterns of plates and saucers. Put the biggest plate on bottom, glue a wine glass to the center of the plate then stack another plate, creating your own multi-tier serving tray.  Pretty floral china tea cup can be converted into clusters of tea cup hanging lights – wouldn’t that be adorable in a little girl’s room for throwing tea parties?  Or glue a tea cup to a garden stake and fill it with bird seed.

Happy hunting,

The Antiques Diva®

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Paris flea market

Looking for Lighting!

My Top 3 Fav Brocantes in Paris!

Dear Diva Readers,

Each fall and spring you hear me wax on about the famed Foire Nationale à la Brocante et au Jambon in the Parisian suburb of ile de Chatou, but I fear I’ve been neglecting my duties.  While I love the National Fair of the Flea Market and Ham, I have 2 other Parisian brocantes – traveling flea markets – that also get my blood pumping with the same degree of diva fever – and you’re in luck, they’re on soon in Paris! 

Top 3 Paris Brocantes:
1) Foire Nationale à la Brocante et aux Jambon (next dates 23 Sep-2 Oct 2011)

2) Antiquities Brocante at Place de Bastille (THIS WEEK May 19-29, 2011 and Nov 4-13, 2011)

3) Antiquities Brocante at St Sulpice (Next Month: June 8-19, 2011)

That’s right – one of my all time favorite markets is on RIGHT NOW in PARIS – The Antiquities Brocante at Place de Bastille is THIS WEEK May 19-29, 2011! If you’re in the city of light, you’d best get shopping!!!  To find out all the diva details read my column “Ask The Antiques Diva” in the Bonjour Paris newsletter to find out what sorts of treasures you’ll find at the 480+ vendors selling at this fair!

And should you miss this event, have no fear! Mark your calendar for the fall when the fair is back again this Nov 4-13, 2011! 

And speaking of marking your calendar, next month on one of the chicest squares in town – the Place St Sulpice (of Da Vinci Code fame) –  there will be a smaller but oh-so-lovely flea market fair with about 110 vendors selling perfect pieces from Paris from June 8-19th.  An antique dealer friend (who shall remain nameless lest I give all his secrets away) swears by this fair as his source for the best items in his store – plus, he claims that he’s rubbed shoulders on more than one occasion with the squares most famous resident, Madame Catherine Deneuve, whose penthouse apartment overlooks the fair!

Now readers, I have one question for you – Do you have any favorite Brocantes in Paris?? If so, share the details!!!

Bonne Shopping!

The Antiques Diva®

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The Antiques Diva & Co offers custom planned Antiques Buying Tours for tourists and trade professionals. Whether you’re looking to buy one specific piece or wanting to fill an entire container, our personal shopping antique buying guides share their vast knowledge of secret sources to take you to all the right places.

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