Nate Berkus

1. Go Early, Go Often
I love a good flea market. If you're like me, mapping out summer trips based upon the summer flea market calendar, you know what I'm talking about. On any Saturday morning, I'm up early, putting on a pot of coffee and itching to get out to the door. I have this gnawing feeling that if I don't get there early enough, I'll miss all the good stuff. It's a bit like a race to the finish to find the things you won't see anywhere else, at a price you can't resist. If you haven't gone before, you have to, and here's why…
Vintage furniture dealer

Photo: © 2009 Jupiterimages Corporation

2. Everything Is Priced to Sell
"Priced to sell"—just the phrase makes me smile. When a dealer says all the items in his booth are priced to sell, he means he's tagged them as aggressively as he can to get you to buy them. Don't worry though, I still haggle. You have to. That's the point of a flea market. It's the one place where you stumble across amazing finds, that are more often than not already priced well, and yet you still get to go after your best price. The bonus is, when you bring it home and you love it even more than you thought you could, you know you got it for a steal. It's a great feeling.
Nate Berkus

3. One of a Kind
I like my house to be unique to me. Sure, I've bought plenty of things out of a catalog, but the way I put them together in my home is special. You might have bought your sofa at a major home decorating store, but the rug you found at the flea market is so unique, it takes your room from "carbon copy" to "simply yours" in no time. That's what's great about shopping beyond the catalog. The things you find and the things you buy are things you can't get anywhere else. It makes your home truly your own, and that's the way it should be.
Flea market booth

Photo: © 2009 Jupiterimages Corporation

4. Green Living
Some days I feel like the ultimate consumer. My work and taping schedule has me flying on planes, eating out of to-go containers and burning up those mobile minutes on my laptop and BlackBerry. But, when it comes to shopping, I was green by the time I was 10 years old! That's when I went to my first flea market. Buying found objects means repurposing something that was already made years before, sometimes decades before. It strikes a nice balance between the new and used equation we should strive for in our lives.
Flea market booth with jewelry

Photo: © 2009 Jupiterimages Corporation

5. Everything Is Within Reach
If there's one thing that I know well, it's the art of stringing together a day's worth of errands. When I take on a design project, I have to jet from the bookstore to the hardware shop to the lamp store and back again just to collect a small portion of the many items I need to fill a home. But, when you hit the flea market, they're all right there. From booth to booth, you have the bases covered. One vendor might have a great collection of lamps, while 10 steps away, another vendor has so many amazing Danish case goods (sorry, a true obsession of mine), you think you'll lose your mind! I find myself poring over the endless jewelry cases, looking for gifts for my mom and sister and talking to that one man who has an uncanny knack for finding the most amazing boxes (yet another thing I can't pass up!). Spending three hours at the flea market takes years off my endless list of to-dos.
Woman shopping

Photo: © 2009 Jupiterimages Corporation

6. Shop Locally
You know how passionate I am about design. I live it. I breathe it. It's like that for the vendors who set up their booths at the flea market. It's their life. They spend hours scouring for what they love only to turn around and bring it to you. By shopping at your flea market, you're supporting them, their livelihood and their passion. Over the past few years, we've started shopping locally for our produce. But, the concept applies to more than just corn, tomatoes and green peppers. The produce stand is just the tip of the iceberg. We need to shop Main Street and hit the local fairgrounds for the weekly flea market. It's a great way to ensure that we all get to make at living at what we love. So, grab your local paper, check the weekend listings and hit up your area flea market this weekend. If nothing else, there's plenty to see…even if you sleep late and get there a few hours after me!

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