How to find vintage bargains

Published July 2, 2016, by Stina Axelson

One of my favorite thing about Swedish summer is going treasure hunting at flea markets “loppisar” in the countryside. They are a great source to find all kinds of amazing stuff. Clothing, household goods, dishes, tools, even fresh food can all be had for a good price. There is nothing better than exploring loppisar during the summer, especially those little gems found only by a car traveling around the Swedish countryside. People open up their barns and sell their unwanted bits and bobs. There are even the un-manned ones where you grab what you want to pay by putting money in a jar.

 

Me and my friends have over the years spent hours perfecting our loppis route.  It´s become our summer tradition to get up early in the morning, pack our fika-basket and visit our hidden gems. The further you travel the more likely it is you will find a bargain.

One person’s trash is another’s treasure and a few weeks back we travelled towards the coast through Roslagen, and here is what we found out.

Start early

Go to bed early the night before. There will be a lot of driving and you will probably drive for hours without any luck. For some reason most vendors close in the afternoon, so start early.

Leave town

The further out in the sticks you are, the more potential for finding a treasure. My favorite loppis are the ones that can’t be reached by foot, which means prices are (usually) low and bargains can be found.

Make a “knytkalas” (potluck of goodies)

You don´t want to risk being hungry and there might not be any good roadside cafés. Swedes love a good fika, and especially homemade, so make sure to bring enough to share.

Look for the stuff no one wants

Don´t look for anything trendy. I found these rickety old ladders being ridiculously overpriced, just because the townies pay a fortune for “industrial” stuff. Try to think outside the box. Look for objects that can be repurposed for example turning old boxes into sofa tables. It is also worthwhile to look for things can be easily repainted or upholstered.

Bring wrapping paper and bags

Vendors will usually wrap up your gems, or give you some paper to wrap them yourself, but be prepared to bring your own bag.

Always ask for a lower price

I have often accepted the price if it was really cheap, but on this trip, I found a beautiful cake stand that was really overpriced. Since I found a few treasures in their shop I asked for a lower price, and yes, I got a great deal on the lot.

Bring Cash

Bring cash. Even though many vendors except credit cards and other digital payments, you can´t rely on internet connection (as we found out)

What to look for

Haberdashery & notions

Sure handicrafts are popular, but buying second-hand vintage supplies are not that popular (yet). You will most likely find boxes of old buttons, vintage fabrics, and embroidery stuff.

Kitchenware

Why spend lots of money on brand new skillets when you can get good old high quality cast Iron frying pans that have been broken in all ready? Most vendors clean and polish their goods, so the quality is very good. I also found that stainless steel was a real bargain. Get rid of those ugly (and toxic) plastic food containers and go for the real deal instead.

Baby stuff

Good-quality clothing is usually available for next to nothing. Everyone knows, but few people realize, how fast children grow, and nowadays people sell hardly worn clothing and toys.

Books & Magazines

I love finding anything with good graphics, whether it is comic books from the 80´s or “chic lit” from the 50´s. On my last trip, I found a pocket calendar from the year 1900. Just knowing that someone had that in their purse and kept track of birthdays and meetings, it makes me think of modern days smartphones. What a great source of inspiration!

If you find anything you like, grab it.

You probably won’t visit again, so hold on to your treasure! Always stroll around the venue twice and browse from different angles, you might see something you didn’t see before. Remember to stay open-minded! If you show up at the loppis with a too specific idea of what you’re looking for, chances are that your mind will be kept busy looking for this specific item.


The great thing about treasure hunting is that you never know what you will find; that some days you’ll go back home empty-handed or frustrated for having missed a great deal by a few seconds. But other days, some finds exceed your expectations!

How about you, whats your best loppis treasure? We’d love to hear how you styled that piece once you got it home and hear your “best find” story! Please use the comment section below to share your story.

Happy Hunting!

xxx Stina

Stina Axelson

Stina Axelson

Always making and creating and fun to hang out with. She finds it hard to follow instructions and keeps a box of treasured papers.