What We Make

3 Reasons Why Auctions and Flea Markets are Great for Makers

Written by: Hannah Kimmel

Recently we’ve been watching HGTV’s, Flea Market Flip. It’s so fun watching teams go to a flea market, find old broken pieces, and turn them into something beautiful.

Then over the weekend, we went to a local auction. We’ve been going to auctions for years, and we’ve been bringing our kids along since they were tiny. To get through the auction we’ve brought backpack carriers, pack n plays, coloring books, snacks, and even portable video games.

Sometimes it was successful, and sometimes we left early and empty-handed. But each year we go to auctionzip.com and find local auctions.

It occurred to me on our last auction trip that auctions and flea markets are perfect outings for makers. Here’s why.

1. Auctions and Flea Markets are Ripe with Maker Supplies

Almost every auction we’ve been to has had at least a few crafting items. There’s usually bins of fabric, metal tins of buttons, and totes full of yarn. You may not always find things that match your taste, but there’s bound to be at least a few things that catch your eye.

One year I bought a finished quilt top for $1. I couldn’t even believe it! A quilter friend of mine put together the batting and the quilt back. It ended up being sold at an auction for an adoption fundraiser at a much higher profit.

Ned has also been able to pick up hand tools, clamps, screws, and stacks of wood. One year, I went to a community yard sale and found several antique hand planers that he still uses in his shop.

These items are usually sold for way way less than market value and can be really helpful when you’re trying to build up your supplies.

2. Auctions Often Have Maker Equipment

We’ve been to more than one auction that has had a smorgasbord of maker equipment.

Ned’s jointer came from a local auction. We almost went to an auction a week ago that had a whole garage full of woodworking equipment. The auction had a planer, drill press, grinder, jointer, shop vac, power tools, and so much more.

Other things you can find at auctions are quilting machines, sewing machines, and sergers.

Make sure to check out the equipment beforehand. If possible, visit the auction website before you go. Do your research to find out what a good used price is for the piece. Try to get to the auction early so you can assess the condition of the equipment.

Many auctioneers will run equipment to show that it is working order before they put it up for bid. If you’re worried you’ll take home something in poor condition, try contacting the auctioneer before the auction. They may give you time beforehand to see the equipment in action.

3. Auctions and Flea Markets are Full of Flippable Furniture

Just as you see in Flea Market Flip, these second-hand destinations can offer a lot of items to be refurbished.

Estate auctions often have an entire house full of furniture and decorations. They offer antiques or pieces made with real wood. You may find an entire dining room set that can be refinished. Or, you could take a furniture set and paint it a bright new color.

Couches and cushions can be reupholstered, picture frames repurposed, and almost anything can be turned into a coffee table for the living room. There are LOADS of upcycling opportunities.

Once you’ve refurbished an item you can keep it for your home or sell it for a profit. Either way, auctions and flea markets are really fun places to find items to re-salvage.

Go Find an Auction or Flea Market Today!

Look up your local listings and look for the next auction in your area. Check out the nearby flea market and see if anything inspires you.

Even if you go to an auction and only come home with a cardboard box of random items, you’ll still have experienced the thrill of bidding on something. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of bidding on your first item at your very first auction!

We scored big at our most recent auction and came home with a wood chipper. That’s a big deal because we have SO much brush and falling down trees on our property. Auctions for the win!


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