The Insider: How to get the most from antiques markets

 

Despite – or perhaps because of – my knack for hoarding junk-shop treasures, I've previously resisted the big out-of-town antiques markets frequented by the pros. But I've decided to go for it, and I'm off to Newark, Northamptonshire, Europe's biggest. As a traders' market virgin, I asked my friend Camilla, a theatre-props buyer (and thus a regular) how to get the best from my trip…

Why go?

Because these are the places your local cool "vintage" shop stocks up. "You'll never buy anything from a second-hand interiors shop again," says my friend. "Not when you see how cheap the stuff is at source."

Pick your location

There is a calendar available for the six biggies at iacf.co.uk. But antiques-atlas.com includes heaps more to choose from, though you'll really need to sift through for the good ones.

Get there early

To get the best, most unusual things, arrive as early as possible. Not a surprise? Well, what newbies may not know is quite how early: you should get in there as people are setting up, in the dark, to bag the very best treasures. "Take a torch," advises Camilla.

Get the best price

I am so British in my haggling skills (which is to say, rubbish). So what's the etiquette? "Ignore tags," says Camilla, "and ask, 'What's your best price?' You'll get better stuff early, but better prices very late; no one wants to lug stock home." And the more you buy from one seller, the better the deal you'll get.

Be prepared

Almost no one takes debit or credit cards, and cashpoints aren't guaranteed. Oh – and "the food isn't great," adds Camilla. "Unless you fancy burgers or bacon baps, you'll be hungry." So take some – and consider a flask.

Find Kate's blog on affordable interiors at yourhomeislovely.com

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