Where can you find antique Pez dispensers, hot vintage heels and (finally!) the perfect lamp to match your weirdly patterned bedspread — all on sale for just a few bucks?
I’ll give you a hint: It’s not Walmart. At least, not my Walmart. (And if yours fits the bill… would you let me know where you live?)
No, it’s your favorite online flea market.
A New Way to Browse: Online Flea Markets
Not only are regular flea markets wacky and wonderful, but their goods are usually pre-owned, pre-loved and dirt cheap. In short, they’re a Penny Hoarder’s dream.
But it’s 2019. You turn to your laptop (or, let’s be real, your smartphone) for everything from takeout to taxi rides to a date for Friday night.
So it’s no surprise there’s a whole world of online flea market shopping out there. And it’s just as quirky and addictive as the real thing — especially since you can see it all with just a few clicks.
Of course, a few of these flea market sites are industry giants you almost certainly already know about.
There’s eBay, which is nearly 25 years old. (I know!) Although it bills itself primarily as an online auction site, many of its listings are available for immediate sale — and it seems you can find just about anything you might desire.
And there’s Etsy, which is sort of like eBay’s quiet, artsy little sister who wears a lot of black eyeliner while weaving flower crowns. You probably already know that Etsy specializes in homemade, handmade goodies, but it’s also a treasure trove for lovers of all things vintage.
In fact, Etsy has a whole category devoted to vintage items from games and toys to clothing — and it’s well-organized enough that you can specifically browse bolo ties, fedoras or marbles.
Sites like Amazon and Craigslist also play a part in the game, connecting buyers to individual sellers in their area or abroad.
But if you really want to get your hands dirty and score some killer (read: very weird) online flea market finds, you’ll have to look beyond the big guys.
5 Online Flea Markets You Might Not Have Heard of Yet
We checked out a variety of smaller online flea markets and compared inventory, prices and user experience to help you find the best deals at the digital folding table.
Here’s what we found out.
A bit like a cross between Craigslist and eBay, Fleabay (a .net domain!) lists items from all over the world — and includes categories as diverse as rental properties and ride shares. There’s even a free stuff section.
The list of prohibited items includes wine, credit cards and “human parts and remains.” Used airbags are merely “questionable,” though.
Fleabay’s listings feature little more than an item description, location, the seller’s information and an expiration date. Shipping or local pickup is arranged on a per-listing basis, and you reach out to the poster directly.
The most frustrating thing? A number of the categories were empty of listings — but there’s no way to tell that without clicking through. There’s also no baked-in way to make an offer on an item; if you’re interested, you’ll have to fill in an online contact form.
Compared to other online flea markets, vFlea feels the closest to actually thumbing through junk until you find a treasure — before leaning across the table to make a bid. The interface is also a touch more polished.
Each listing’s thumbnail specifies whether items are shippable or for local pickup only and also includes an asking price. The platform has built-in “buy now” and “haggle” options, and even an opportunity to “barter” with goods of your own.
Items are organized by tags as well as categories, creating better searchability and organization. The site populates the number of listings currently available in each category in parentheses, so no mysteries there.
Finally, vFlea still has some weird stuff available, although it draws the line at community events. For instance, you could make an offer on this hilltop timeshare in Indiana, which apparently can be shipped or picked up locally. The asking price is $21,000.
Although Bonanza has a very similar interface to eBay, it doesn’t offer bidding or bartering options.
It does, however, list categories for everything from home goods to collectibles, including coins and paper money.
And there’s also a wonderful category called “Everything Else,” with subsections like “Metaphysical” (which features a $330 haunted bracelet) and “Weird Stuff” (hey, this is perfect for Halloween!)
There’s even a “Vintage” section under fashion so you can easily shop for those precious duds from another era.
Love the hunt for bargains but not so much the web surfing? Srchie does the work for you, scanning — or searching, get it? — online flea markets across the web, including eBay, Amazon and Goodwill.
Narrow your search by categories like Vintage, Furniture and Books — including first editions — and the site will display externally linked images to the sellers’ sites. You can identify who’s selling by the logo in the top left corner and find the price and the posting date at the bottom of the image before clicking through to the seller’s site.
It’s a convenient way to browse the marketplace and compare prices without opening 4,287 tabs.
Although it’s not exactly an online flea market, per se, Poshmark allows you to make the seller a custom offer — just like at a flea market table! It offers a wide variety of fashion and home accessories, as well as themed parties for buying and selling your stuff.
Like most online consignment shops, Poshmark require you to log in to browse their goods, but they’re free to browse and generally feature low shipping costs.
Digital secondhand shops like ThredUp have a lot to offer if you’re looking for fashionable items on the cheap. You can buy (and sell!) gently used, high-quality, brand-name clothes and accessories for a fraction of the price you’d find in stores or online.
Jamie Cattanach (@jamiecattanach) is a freelance writer. Staff writer/editor Tiffany Wendeln Connors contributed to this post.