Flea or thrift? Flea or thrift? Don’t make me choose!


Loved the color on this ladder (which I didn’t buy). I think I’ll steal the idea, though.

Yesterday ManRay and I did a marathon of shopping starting at the Golden Nugget Flea Market in Lambertville NJ. I haven’t been there since last summer and was surprised by how much the market has changed. At one time it was considered the preeminent antiques market on the East Coast.

Now it’s dominated by yard sale dreck with only a minority of dealers who specialize in vintage goods. Over half of the 150+ tables were empty even though it was sunny and nearly 80 degrees. Last I heard the market was up for sale. 😦


Have you ever thought of painting the inside of a bucket? I’m a sucker for this color! Another great idea to copy, if I only had a way to use painted galvanized buckets.

The one HUGE reason I keep going back to the Golden Nugget is the great vintage stuff that I know I won’t find anywhere else (unless I shopped at estate sales). I fell in love with these old ribbons. Got a fantastic deal on them, too.


Are they silk? Rayon? I don’t know. I just loved all the colors and patterns together. And I’ll probably never be able to cut them up and use them separately. How pathetic is that? Oh, and this is a vintage McKee Skokie bowl.

These old maple syrup tins would never make it to a thrift store shelf. They’d get tossed in a dumpster first. I liked that they’ve got maple syrup recipes on the sides. You’ll have to wait until next winter to see them!


Part of me wishes I could decorate a cabin. These old tins would fit right in.

It was still Christmas at a couple tables. We’ve been so traumatized by snow it might be June before we are brave enough to put our shovels and salt away.


How cool are those big, red lightbulbs? I don’t have a fireplace, so I wasn’t tempted to bring it home. Much.


This seems like a 1960s/1970s Mirostar candleabra. I prefer the 1950s ones with tinsel instead of plastic trim.

I got this little sewing kit for pocket change. It has a mirror inside, too.


Are you prepared for clothing disasters? This little emergency kit was never used.

Flea market shopping is an intensely social experience. You can’t buy anything without dealing with a dealer, and dickering is mostly part of the deal. (Confession: I never dicker on any item that costs $10 or less. I think it’s cheap in a really bad way. Who wants to be a petty cheapskate?) I don’t feel comfortable “window shopping” or touching objects because dealers will start a sales pitch. (I know how it works–I do exactly the same thing when I’m the dealer!)

Thrift shopping, on the other hand, lets you shop relatively unobserved and there’s no disputing the price. You can fill a cart, walk around with stuff for an hour, and then decide at leisure what makes the final cut before you hit the checkout.

I grabbed this springtime-y paint-by-number of sweetpeas. Too bad I didn’t have it last weekend for Sage Farm!


ManRay doesn’t usually like PBNs, but he agreed to let this one come home. I’m thinking about painting the dismal, cheapo frame a nicer color. Maybe I should just shop for a nicer frame.

I didn’t see any dishes I liked at the Golden Nugget. But I hit the jackpot at the thrift store.


Gay Fad painted handled bowls. I had one before thrift shopping. Now I’ve got a nice set.


Score!! I found eight Steubenville Fairlane cups and saucers! Too bad I left the matching plates at Luray’s house.

Final score? Another vintage Japanese scarf for my collection in a bright, Springy green.


It’s a Burmel, whatever that is. And “66% vinal 34% silk”. What on earth is “vinal”? If this green doesn’t say “SPRING” it doesn’t talk. Well, you know what I mean. I hope!

What do you prefer–flea or thrift?

9 Comments on “Flea or thrift? Flea or thrift? Don’t make me choose!”

  1. Fairlane is the dish pattern we use most of the time! Funny story, when Dale and I were married, we were combining two households, and I wasn’t as much into vintage. He had a whole set of Fairlane and we sold the whole set in our yard sale! I mean I had tons of brand new Pffaltzgraff Juniper! Shortly after, i started getting into 50’s vintage and regretted it for years. There was the butter dish, bowls, salad plates, s&p, platters, vegetable bowls, cups, saucers, gravy boat. I mean everything! Well, about 4 years ago I found what had to be the exact same set in an antique store in the next county! I hld off byuing it, but when i went in the next time the whole booth was marked 50% off! The dinner plates were a little worse for the wear, we are down to 4. But I love it and am so glad Karma helped bring it back into our lives!

    • janeray says:

      What a great lost-and-found story! And even better that you got them back at a bargain price! Are they your everyday dishes?

  2. machinegunmama says:

    Definitely thrift! I tend to spend up to 2 hours mulling over every little object and not being bothered by a salesperson is the best 😉

    • janeray says:

      I hear you on that. Flea market shopping can be way more stressful. I want to be nice to people which makes saying “no thanks!” kinda hard.

  3. luray says:

    Why do I hafta choose? Huh? Why?!
    I like thrifting because I can do it in the winter. I like the flea market because it’s outdoors and and I can get in goofball conversations with dealers, which is pretty much unlike me any other time. Remember when you bought that souvenir with the moose and the palm tree? It was all the more fun because the dealer was having fun with it too.

    • janeray says:

      Well, I have to choose because I only have one day to shop! It’s Saturday or nothin for me. If I go to the flea market I’m wondering what I’m missing at my favorite thrift with those insane 40% off sales! …What did I do with that palm tree moose thing?!

  4. luray says:

    “Vinal” is, and I quote, “A manufactured fiber in which the fiberforming substance is any long-chain synthetic polymer composed of at least 50% by weight of vinyl alcohol units, (-CH2CH[OH]-)X, and in which the total of the vinyl alcohol units and any one or more of the various acetal units is at least 85% by weight of the fiber.” Does that help? 🙂

    • janeray says:

      Oh, so get all Bill Nye the Science Guy on me! Sounds like a fancy name for acetate. I was surprised it had silk in it. They’re generally all synthetic.