For more than 45 years, every second Sunday of the month, R.G. Canning's Rose Bowl Flea Market has taken over the famed Pasadena stadium and a great percentage of its parking lot. With more than 2,500 vendors, it's one of the largest flea markets in the country, with vendors selling everything from succulents to vintage clothes to that glorious new mop you've been in the market for. On Sunday, March 12, even at 85 degrees, 20,000 or so buyers descended on the famous flea market. And just so you know, we bought the Easter bunny costume and, no, you can't have it.
A few tips for the first-time buyer —
1. Come early. Getting there at 8 a.m. means you can find much better parking, plus many of the best one-of-a-kind deals are gone by 10 a.m.
2. Stay late! By 2 p.m., many of the vendors are more willing to reduce the prices of large pieces so they don't have to pack them up and take them home. But remember, you can haggle but don't be a douche — if the vendor says no, just take no as the answer.
3. Go to an ATM before you arrive. This lets you set a budget for yourself and save time and money waiting in line for the one group of ATMs by the front. Some vendors take credit cards, but many don't. It is easy to spend a lot more money than you planned using plastic, and having cash in hand means you are more likely to get a discount on multiple items from one seller.
4. Bring water/stay hydrated. Also, it never hurts to bring an umbrella to protect yourself from the sun. Vendors sold out of umbrellas the day I was there.
5. Buy it when you see it. Since this flea market is huge, it is easier to buy something and take it to your car than to try to figure out where you saw that great Easter bunny costume and hope they still have it. Buy it now and forever feel the thrill of victory!
6. Don't be afraid to Google an expensive item if you aren't sure about it. Some antiques are overpriced at the Rose Bowl. Walking away is always an option; victory is not just in buying but in saying no to a bad deal.
7. Be on the lookout for weird finds. EASTER BUNNY COSTUME — need we say more?
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8. If you are shopping for furniture, bring a dolly or cart. Carts are on sale at the market but they run about $35 and the vendors can actually sell out. Also, most vendors will hold an item for you once it has been purchased, so you can come back with the dolly and haul it off to your car.
9. Get the vendors' cards. If you love what the vendor was selling, you might want a business card so you can find them again.
10. Come in a group. Frankly, it can get lonely out there all by yourself. Plus more people means everyone can take a turn lugging the bunny head around.
Rose Bowl Flea Market, 1001 Rose Bowl Drive, Pasadena; the second Sunday of every month, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; $9. rgcshows.com/RoseBowl.aspx.