The real problem is the general public’s inability to deal with the hazards of flea market culture. That’s why most go retail. But for me, there’s nothing like the thrill of wondering if must-have rubberized binoculars are covered in some kind of dramatic and dangerous fungus.
My fleamanship circumference extends from West 17th north to 25th. Sometimes I take the free shuttle to the Hell’s Kitchen market but Deborah the ex-glass blower has a booth on the corner up there and man can she talk a blue streak. Plus she tries to sell me repurposed safari gear that’s like the household goods equivalent of a comb-over.
Personally, I think the famous Antique Garage on West 25th is overpriced. But it’s a good shortcut to the Goodwill flagship store if you go in on the south side. Then you can stroll over to the open-air market down the street. You can wheel your Smarte Carte right over everybody’s feet on 6th Avenue. It doesn’t bother the tourists because they all wear adequately padded leather sneakers but the omnipresent flip-flopping New Yorkers sure get pissed off. Whatever. (One time I saw a chick in flip-flops sideswipe a piece of stray birthday cake on the sidewalk and icing oozed up between her toes. The horror of it all turned me anti-flip-flop.)
My rule of thumb is to offer 75% of the asking price after a long pause where I do the math in my head. If you offer less, you might get yelled at. I took a big chance the other day when I offered $5 for a pair of faux leopard skin loafers. I didn’t realize how big a chance until later on when I witnessed the same vendor turn tomato red and burn out his larynx screaming at a guy for offering a purported ridiculously paltry sum for a box of buttons.
Today, I scored two mid-century sofa tables, 6 African silver thingies, and a string of green glass beads (the big ones). Plus the dishes from the Boonton Auction, but that's a whole other tale.