As a native Angelino, the Rose Bowl Flea Market has to be one of my favorite LA perks. It is by far the godfather of all flea markets.
Held on the second Sunday of each month at the Pasadena Rose Bowl, thousands of vendors and tens of thousands of shoppers gather for a remarkable day of bargain hunting. You can literally find anything and everything your little heart desires. Some examples of goods you can expect vendors to be selling include:
- Clothes (new and vintage)
- Art Work
- Decorative Home Goods
- Metal Worked Signs (I got my Cali sign from here)
I quite enjoy my monthly shopping day and rarely miss a day if I can help it. As amazing as it is, the event is massive so if you don’t know what you’re doing, it can be quite overwhelming. To ensure your day is a success, be sure to follow my 10 Tips for Shopping the Pasadena Flea Market:
- Cash is king. To buy clothes I always bring $100-150 in cash because I always end up seeing loads of great pieces I don’t want to pass up. For example, I might get 2 or 3 skirts for $20-$35 and I’ll find a dress for $20. Many vendors are now taking cards, especially for those large furniture purchases. I have also used Venmo with one of my favorite vendors but I shop with her frequently so… I’ll defer to my initial recommendation, bring cash when possible.
- Parking: Yes, I pay 15 bucks for the preferred parking which is probably not smart because that means I’ve just cut into the cash that is burning a hole in my pocket to get inside and shop. It is a bit closer, which means nothing because it’s a lot of walking no matter what…I mean the flea market is massive and I’ll be walking loads anyway so what’s bit more? So, basically I recommend saving your $15 and park in the FREE lot unless you plan to buy large furniture items and need to be as close as possible.
- Entry Fee: CASH ONLY NO COINS EITHER!!! The earlier you want to get in, the more it’s going to cost you.
Special Preview Admission 5-7 am: $20
Early Admission 7-8 am: $15
Express Admission 8-9 am: $12
General Admission starts @9 am: $9
- What time to arrive?? If my goal is to buy clothes I arrive no later than 9am. I do not want to miss out on a thing when it comes to clothes!!! If buying other goods like rugs or furniture you might want to try later in the day. Vendors may be more apt to make a deal based on the fact they don’t want to lug all their unsold items back with them. It’s my logic and I stick with it…hasn’t failed me yet.
- I ALWAYS bring a few shopping bags and my janky shopping cart because who wants to be fatigued carrying all their fabulous finds that day. The shopping bags are so that my new used clothes don’t get dirty in my cart that I will then take home to wash or dry clean…. Whatever somehow the shopping bags just make sense!!!
- Beyond wearing comfortable walking shoes, wear a bodysuit with a skirt or a loose fitting dress to make trying on clothes a reasonable task. I have no shame, I will slip bottoms on under my skirt or dress in a second. Remember this is a final sale situation — for me even those $5 cut off vintage Levi’s need a quick try on. At this point in my life it’s cut throat in my closet; the last thing I need is another piece of clothing I’ll never wear!
- Let’s make a deal!! There is usually a deal to be made; for me that’s one of the beauties of flea market shopping. Buying a bundle of items from one vendor? Then point it out…ask if they’ll do a 3 for $$ or 5 for $$ deal for you. Did you find an imperfection or flaw on that perfect fitting skirt? Then surely the price needs to be adjusted!! When you get it home you’ve gotta pay to have it fixed right?? It’s taken me a while to get comfortable with bargaining, but now I know it’s expected.
- On the other hand…Respect the hustle. While some vendors are just trying to sell on their junk (which makes bargaining completely appropriate), there are other vendors who really curate their goods and clearly work on it full time, so respect their hustle. Getting the best price from someone like that may be next to impossible, but they also have THE best pieces you’ve seen all day…and you want them all!! For me, I frequent some of the best vintage clothing resellers and I tend to accept the asking price out of respect for the hard work it must take to hunt for only the best.
- Grab it and do not let go…unless you are sure you don’t want it. The best clothing vendors with the really good stuff are typically sieged with shoppers. Therefore, if you see something you like just grab it and worry about if you want to buy it later. The moment you put it down the sly fox who was been watching you (someone is always watching) will snatch it up a split second later and you will be assed out.
- Eat beforehand, bring small snacks, and bring water. I like to think of the Rose Bowl Flea Market like a day at Disneyland. The day is much better for me with a little food in my tummy and some water to keep me hydrated. Plus, I’m one of those pain in the ass people who won’t chance eating the delicious smelling pupusas, bacon wrapped sausage, or breakfast burritos. Besides, I like to reserve every penny for shopping and I don’t want over-priced food and drink costs cutting into my daily budget.
Follow these tips and you’re on your way to a fabulous day at the Pasadena Rose Bowl Flea Market. I’m so pleased with my latest flea market treasure — this fabulous vintage skirt! What do you think?
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Be sure to comment below if you have any questions! Hope to run into you at the next Rose Bowl Flea Market!
5 Comments on Tips for Shopping the Rose Bowl Flea Market
LOVE LOVE LOVE that vintage skirt! Are there vendors that sell vintage denim?
Thanks Aimee! You can absolutely find vintage denim. In fact, on this trip my best friend and I shopped a vendor with piles and piles of vintage Levi shorts – only $4 per pair! Certainly one of the best deals I’ve seen. The Rose Bowl Flea Market really is amazing!
Thanks for the awesome tips! They make so much sense for having a much more enjoyable day and coming away with a better haul. I can’t wait to go fully prepared next month! Thanks again.
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