When Lara Spencer—the Good Morning America host, HGTV star, and author of two books on bargain hunting—offered to show me—a novice—the ropes, I couldn’t refuse. She grew up combing the stalls with her mother in Long Island and has continued this tradition with her own two children. “It’s such good bonding time,” she says.
“It’s become our family thing.” Spencer approaches the experience with the same gusto as she does most other things, so our morning spent cruising the rows of vendors at Elephant’s Trunk Country Flea Market, in New Milford, Connecticut, served as a master class in discount shopping.
While many patrons begin by perusing the booths nearest a flea market’s entrance, Spencer usually heads for the last row of vendors and then makes a cursory sweep of the space. If she sees something she absolutely loves, she buys it immediately.
“Remember,” she says, “it’s not like a regular store, where they’ll pull out another identical item from the back, so you need to jump and trust your gut.” And she suggests following up with at least two additional trips through the stalls because “you’re sure to notice things you didn’t see the first time.”
Spencer is always looking for artwork and frames. “You can often find great frames for five to ten dollars,” she says. “As long as a frame is bigger than a piece of art, you can always cut it down to size.”
Flea markets can be terrific places to round out collections of decorative accessories—often at a fraction of their original prices. “If you see two foo dogs, buy them!” says Spencer.
“A single is tough, but a pair? I never let them go. No matter your style, foo dogs fit everywhere.”