04/24/2012 08:38 am ET Updated Oct 11, 2012

Country Living's Sarah Gray Miller Shares Expert Flea Market Shopping Tips

We're getting ready for flea market season here. And, we're excited that the Country Living Fair, is kicking it off this week in Austin, Texas, with three full days of food, music, and flea market shopping. But, let's face it, while flea markets are fun, it can sometimes get a little overwhelming when it comes to finding great vintage pieces for good deals. For some expert guidance, we spoke with Country Living magazine's editor in chief and seasoned shopper Sarah Gray Miller for tips on how to best shop flea markets.

Do your research. Before heading off to the market, Miller suggests browsing around sites like eBay and Etsy. "Search around for the kinds of things that interest you because you'll get a sense of whether or not something's really rare or common. You also get a sense of what you should pay for a given item," she says.

Take pictures. "Smartphones have made flea marketing so much easier," says Miller. The lifetime market shopper suggests taking photos of potential items and their prices while browsing the market. Once you're done, sit down and flip through your options. You may even notice the same item offered by another vendor at a better price.

Be patient. Although the best finds are likely to be snatched up at the beginning of the fair, the best bargains can be found at the end. "The best times for a deal is the very end of the day of the last day at any fair," says Miller. "Most dealers don't want to load everything back into their trucks. I have found people practically giving things away."

Consider extra costs. Be wary of furniture you'll have to reupholster, advises Miller. The upholstery can end up costing way more money and time than you initially thought. In terms of repurposing projects, wooden and hardware pieces are the easiest and most affordable materials to repair. A can of paint can go a long way.

Go with your instincts. "I shop from the heart. I think if people just trust their gut, what they like is the right thing," says Miller, who's favorite flea find is a painting of Dolly Parton she found in Nashville. "If you really, really love it, buy it. But, if you're not madly in love with it, it's OK. There are very few things out there that are truly one of a kind. You know, that's not the only vintage paint-by-number horse."

For tickets to the Country Living Fair, which starts April 27, visit Stella Shows. Or, to find a local market near you, visit American Fleas. And, don't forget to come back tomorrow for more flea market coverage with HGTV's estate-sales expert Cari Cucksey.

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