Franklin John Kakies loves a good flea market. A Sacramento-based interior designer with a deep reverence for history, Kakies is a veteran market-goer with a knack for spotting unusual items, often for a steal. His most beloved flea market find: an 18th-century English Georgian silver teapot crafted by a noted London maker. “I found it late one morning at the local flea and the sellers practically forced it on me, for a fraction of its fair-market value,” recalls Kakies. How could he say no? “The goal I set for myself in my early 20s—that my life should be filled with beautiful and amusing vintage objects—has played out in a wonderful way,” says Kakies, who also writes catalog descriptions for Witherell’s auction house.
Whether you’re a flea market regular or a total newbie, Kakies insists there’s an art to shopping for what he jokingly refers to as “the detritus of Western civilization.” Here are a few of his tips:
“It’s not where you go, but rather who you are when you’re there, which I believe applies to life in general and flea markets in particular,” says Kakies, who has scored some great finds by simply engaging sellers courteously.
“I am adamant about never offering a ridiculously low price when I know something has greater value,” says Kakies. “Rather, I let the dealer set his or her own price.” Also, if asking for a discount, “I find that people are often charmed by the request being couched in friendly terms.”
“Don’t ever buy something merely because it is a bargain,” advises Kakies. It’s preferable to “buy one really good thing than four—or 10—mediocre objects.”