A Day at the Elkhorn Flea, Wisconsin

I’ve been obsessed with scouring antique malls, vintage stores and flea markets since high school. I definitely went through an initial “shabby chic” phase, where anything floral, girly and white went into my room. Fortunately that quickly transitioned into a keen eye for one-of-a-kind finds and little treasures that add interest but not clutter. Today my current home has a lot of high-quality vintage pieces seamlessly mixed in with new, as does my wardrobe.

This past Sunday morning I grabbed coffee around 6:45 a.m. and headed to the Elkhorn Flea Market, about an hour and a half from Madison, on the recommendation of a friend who has been going for years. It was one of the largest markets I’ve been to, and so fun to wander in hunt of nothing but anything. I thought it would be fun to share a few of my flea market tips with you, so read on for those and to see what I came home with!

Our home is already full of furniture (equal parts old and new), so I only look for small and interesting home accessories now. The wood blocks with the cylindrical holes above are actually still used as sugar molds in Mexico, but they’re really stunning with votives dropped in and the entire thing placed on a dining or coffee table. I also love vintage ornaments–they’re inexpensive, charming and a great way to add character to your holiday tree. They remind me of my mom’s own collection.

I have a soft spot for vintage jewelry and accessories, which are some of the easiest things to incorporate into your wardrobe. Think brooches, necklaces, rings, bracelets, bags, and scarves. Be sure to inspect each piece for flaws, consider what’s fixable or changeable, think about what you could wear it with, and decide how much you feel it’s worth. Then make your offer.

Just remember to have patience–you’ll likely have to weed through and skip over plenty of junk in search of good finds. But if you don’t look closely, you may miss something tucked in between. Other home items I always keep an eye out for include pretty trays, glassware, tiny bowls (for holding jewelry or keys), mirrors, lamps and artwork.

My treasures from this trip: A beaded Taj Mahal and black velvet evening clutch from the ’50s, a 1970s tooled leather bag, and an authentic turquoise and silver cuff. If you’re a treasure hunter, I’d love to hear your flea market tips, too!

  • share this post: