Thriftamore: Edition 3 – Flea Markets


No matter what holiday you celebrate, gift shopping is an essential part of the season.

Flea markets are a great spot to find truly one of a kind gifts for that special family member. Flea markets began in Paris as a place to buy second-hand goods that might contain fleas. Today, they are flea-free and consist of a collection of pre-owned items, much like a thrift store but for more than just clothing.

This month, we went to two different flea markets in the Boston area. The first one, Cambridge Antique Market, was more of a vintage store with various collections of antique goods than a classic flea market. The second, Revere Flea Market, was a very different brand of flea market and definitely much more of a neighborhood establishment. We had hoped to visit a third, Somerville Flea, but unfortunately it was closed.

With the holiday season quickly approaching, flea markets serve as a fun way to find distinctive and affordable gifts for family and friends

Cambridge Antique Shop was a fantastic find. From vintage clothing to copies of old newspapers, the shop was the picture of nostalgia.
Upon entering the store, we were greeted by some kind faces who revealed that they’d been running the business for the past 27 years. They also explained that the store was organized such that each “booth” or specific area came from a particular estate sale, yard sale or another flea market. This was nice because different “vendors” had specific sales that made the store shockingly affordable. But organization by product type probably would have been easier to navigate.

The overall vibe was comforting and warm, wrapped up in one adorable and undeniably aesthetic store.

The Cambridge Antique Market sold vintage postcards among many other special and nostalgic items.

Of course, a great vibe was not enough to sell us. The products themselves were very unique, and each was distinctive in the best possible way. We skipped over the large furniture and glassware and found stuff that appealed to us. Our favorite section contained many old writings, where we found old copies of magazines, postcards and comic books. The store also offered posters and framed art, vintage patches, extensive jewelry collections and oh so many quirky-cool knick-knacks.

While there was a lot to love within the store, the prices really varied. We were definitely able to find some cheap stuff, like a pair of $10 jeans, $5 newspapers from 1922, and $1 vintage postcards. However, the prices really depended on the vendor, and many of the figurines and glassware cost upwards of $100. In comparison with other thrift stores, especially the Revere Flea Market, it was definitely the most price-diverse store we’ve seen.

The Revere Flea Market did not hit the spot for us. For starters, it required a long commute of taking the Green Line to Government Center, the blue line to Wonderland and then the 426 bus. We started at the Brookline Hills T stop, so the commute might be shorter from other areas, but for most of Brookline, it is still extremely far.

The Revere Flea Market was completely outdoors and featured individual sellers.

Along with this, the things we found were more generic and the whole market seemed to be more like a garage sale. It offered modern clothes and toys for a cheaper price, rather than unique, one-of-a-kind items. It definitely felt like something designed for local residents to sell their old items to other local residents, and we felt very out of place. This makes complete sense, as neighbors should help each other out, but it might not be the best place for Brookline students to go.

Where we found postcards with messages written a century ago, something truly one-of-a-kind, at Cambridge Antique Shop, we found lightly worn Nike sneakers at Revere Flea Market. This was just one example of the more modern and ordinary types of items we found there.

Whatever your goals for the holiday season, we hope that one of these flea markets can offer you a perfect gift for someone you love. Happy holidays from your friends behind Thriftamore!