Outdoor Antics: Buying

Written by: VintageKeeley

Buying at a large outdoor event

If you’re like me, every so often you just need to go on a massive vintage rampage and where better to let loose than at a large, outdoor antiques and vintage fair?! Bursting with undiscovered treasures and curiosities, these events are the perfect places to conduct a buying excursion.

outdoor event vintage

As I’m a regular at such events, I know better than anyone how overwhelming they can be if you don’t have some sort of POA.

SO I thought I’d share my key pointers for any of you thinking about stocking up on vintage finds…

1 The Fundamentals

If you’re new to buying at these types of events be prepared to pay at least £10 to get in, maybe even up to £30, as you’ll be paying a premium to get in early. Some might call it Trade entry but this does not mean if you’re not Trade (a professional buyer) you can’t go in, you just have to pay extra than the general public price.

HOWEVER, this does have its benefits and can be a critical time to buy because the best bargains usually go first – they’re either snapped up by other sellers or (if you’re fast enough) keen, eagle-eyed other buyers like myself!

Make the most of this time!

Always bring a decent amount of cash too because there will be no card machines and you don’t want to miss out! This is also handy for budgeting because you know you can’t go over your limit.

2 Nans know best

Make like your Gran and invest in a shopper-on-wheels! Trust me, there’s no way big laundry bags will do, your arms will fall off mid-way around! Bring plenty of plastic bags and a bit of bubble wrap too for any items that require TLC.


Another thing Nans do best: they make killer shopping lists! I can’t tell you how valuable this is. At events as large as this it is super easy to get side-tracked and giddy! I mean, you’re surrounded by vintage gold, you have money burning a hole in your pocket – it’s inevitable! Making a list of essential items you need (either for a specific customer or replenishing best sellers) is a sure-fire way of staying focused. Sometimes it takes all day to tick off each item, sometimes it takes an hour but at least you have a goal in mind.

3 Always Strategize

Ok so you’ve arrived and spotted a stall you just have to rummage through, then another, then another – before you know it you’ve walked around in circles three times, grabbed a sausage sarnie and right before you have to leave, you’ve noticed you’ve missed two-thirds of the fair!!


I might be exaggerating a little here but you get the idea….

I always like to maximise my productivity on buying trips so I map out a route (usually working my way through a grid-system) and stick to it. That way you don’t lose track of where you are and miss out because its 3pm and all the good stuff is long gone. Once you get to know an event really well you’ll discover favourite sellers and areas so you can prioritise.

4 Be bold and barter

Newcomers find this especially difficult but its ok! They expect you to ask what their best price is! Don’t ever leave without doing so as most traders love to barter a little. In some cases; with those sellers who may clear houses (of which you will find a few at these type of outdoor fairs) they don’t often like having to re-load much back in the van so they will do deals with you! But do remember; although buyers always have a fear they’ve missed out on something early on, you can still get bargains towards the end of the day.

barter like a pro


You’ve had your eye on something but the price wasn’t right and the seller was hedging their bets. Low and behold it’s still there at 4pm…. Time to renegotiate if you ask me!

An extra tip to ensure you don’t get STUNG: bring baby wipes so you can determine the difference between a bit of dirt and a full-on scratch – this will heighten bartering power too!

5 Bring in the Van

Again, this is not something that is always common knowledge but you will be allowed to bring in your vehicle for a limited time in order to collect heavier items. Don’t be put off by those big and beautiful finds just because you don’t want to have to walk all the way back to the van with them. Instead, ask traders to hold your bigger/heavier purchases until later in the day, they’ll be more than happy to put them aside for you to collect.

outdoor vintage buying

I must emphasise that the size of these events can be very overpowering! I’m talking miles and miles of stalls; it can get confusing to find where you have seen something or bought something. If you do decide that you want to collect your new purchase later, don’t forget to make a note of their pitch number. If they don’t have one, I like to take a photo of their van and where it’s located or, failing that, their mobile number!

Recommendations: Fairs organised by IACF or Arthur Swallow Fairs are brilliant, must-visits!

Well that’s it folks. Remember, as long as you’re prepared to get your hands dirty and spend all day championing various acrobatic stances whilst searching for your wonderful vintage loot – you’ll be fine!!

Good luck!

Keeley x