There is something fun about browsing through used goods. Not only are you guaranteed to find something cool, you won’t need to spend a lot of money to do it.
Maybe you need some authentic 70’s flared jeans or old school Batman coffee mugs.
Whatever the case, online flea markets are a great source to find what you may (or may not even know) you have been looking for.
The original idea of a flea market, was an outdoor market where vendors could sell their used and sometimes new, goods.
Mostly it was used items. And if we really take it back, some of those items were flea infested. Hence the name flea market.
Thankfully we’ve moved beyond those days and don’t even need to leave our home to find whatever we are on the hunt for. In fact, you can pretty much search for something any time anywhere if you have a smartphone.
Most online flea markets come with their own app. This makes browsing and purchasing goods quick and easy. And dare I say, somewhat addictive? When prices are so dirt cheap, it is hard to say no.
Shopping online is definitely the go-to shopping method of the future. And there are more online flea markets than you may realize.
I’ve identified ten of them for you below as the best ones to check out if you are searching for a special treasure, unique antique or an everyday item missing from your life.
I’ll break down the details of each online market, their pros and cons, what items you can expect to find and so much more.
Table of Contents
“Home to a universe of special, extraordinary items”
If you are truly on the hunt for a special item, antique, or homemade good, then it is only right to start off the list with Etsy.
Etsy is a global marketspace that specializes in all things vintage, handmade, and basically anything awesome that you want to find that eBay won’t have.
In order for something to even be considered vintage it has to be 20 or more years old. Though I find it funny to think about something being vintage from the year 2000.
Etsy has been changing the online flea market scene since it’s launch in 2005. Though based in New York, Etsy has offices around the globe, including large cities like San Francisco, New Dheli, Paris, Dublin and London.
Like flea markets of old, Etsy modeled itself after them as much as an online store can. It is their desire to keep as much of the human connection as possible in the world of e-commerce.
Sellers are given their own store fronts and even pay a fee to use Etsy as a platform to sell their goods.
For future sellers, this fee is $.20 per item listed, just in case you were wondering. There’s also a 5% fee charged of the final sale value.
Since its start, Etsy has been nothing but successful. They have a little over two million sellers utilizing their services and over 30 million buyers in 2018 alone. At one point, they had nearly 60 million items listed in their marketplace.
If Etsy looks like something you would use to shop regularly, be sure to subscribe to receive emails. These emails will often mention special deals, unique trends and gift ideas tailored just for you.
What Makes Etsy Unique
Etsy remains special because they are focused on selling handmade items, real vintage pieces, and often sustainable products as well.
The founders of Etsy understood that people still loved getting quality items at affordable prices. They also knew that the interest in unique antiques was growing.
And sometimes searching through your local thrift stores just doesn’t cut it when it comes to scoring something truly special. Etsy literally connects you to sellers from all over the world.
The categories listed in the marketplace are extensive. You can find handbags, belts, shoes, clothing, dollhouses, jewelry, toys, cradles and so much more.
If it isn’t something built by hand by a seller then it is probably a vintage find, like a rocking chair from the 1920s.
And that chair could be coming from some town in Ireland or Philadelphia. Etsy has made searching for treasures easy and gives you global access so that you can find exactly what you want.
Recently Etsy has allowed sellers to list stuff even if it is manufactured elsewhere. This has received a bit of backlash as some buyers believe this negates the unique, handmade quality that Etsy was known for.
Etsy requires that the sellers outsourcing their work be transparent with their buyers. If an Etsy shop doesn’t work with your shopping ethics, thankfully there are thousands of others to choose from.
The broad range of shops on Etsy keep the site popular. Reviewers typically rave about how Etsy is the perfect one-stop-shop for buying gifts.
I like that Etsy has such open communication between sellers and buyers. You can ask your seller anything about an item before needing to complete a purchase.
This transparency helps keep a shop honest and means you will be satisfied with whatever you end up buying.
If you end up loving a few shops, be sure to add them to your favorites. This way you can go back and shop with them directly at any time.
Buying On Etsy
Buying on Etsy is easy. You can search for items via the list of categories (and subcategories that come up) or you can use the search bar and type in exactly what you want.
From there, a list of items will pop up displaying an image, complete with title, price and the name of the seller or seller’s shop.
You can then break things down further by filtering for highest reviews, items under $25, free shipping, items on sale, specifically vintage, or USA made items only.
When you find something you like, simply add to your virtual shopping cart and either keep browsing or check out. If you have a question about something you want to buy, Etsy gives you the option to contact the seller directly.
This is especially great for handmade items. Often you’ll find a seller willing to work with you on creating exactly what you are looking for.
Many times you will see sellers offering custom orders as well. Sometimes they might surprise you with a discount.
You don’t need to have a direct Etsy account to shop. You can check out using your Facebook or Google account information instead.
If you choose to keep shopping, you can add multiple items to your shopping cart, even if they are from different sellers from around the globe.
Your cart will automatically combine your total, so that you only need to make one payment versus several to different vendors.
When completing your purchase you usually have the option to use a credit card or you can pay with a PayPal account.
Sometimes, Paypal is the only payment option. And in rare cases you will see a seller allowing Apple Pay or Google Pay.
If you purchase from a seller that uses PayPal only, then they will have their own separate payment and not be lumped in with anything else in your cart.
Pros and Cons of Etsy
- Free to use
- No registration required
- Great source for real, unique items
- Wide range of items to choose from
- Ability to get custom orders
- Access to millions of sellers from around the world
- Payments via credit card or PayPal
- Itemized check out so you only have to input payment information once
- Dealing with inexperienced sellers
- Long wait for custom items, especially if coming from another country
- High shipping costs (depends on item)
- Poor customer service (though work directly with sellers and Etsy won’t need to step in)
As you can see there aren’t too many cons to using Etsy. For anyone on the lookout for that special something, this is the site for you.
“Where the world goes to shop, sell and give.”
Ebay has been around for 25 years and still remains one of the most popular online shopping platforms. They aim to be the go-to source for people to find valuable and unique items at a great price.
Ebay, like Etsy, accurately captures the open-air marketplace that is so popular with Flea Markets. You are connected with millions of people from around the world, selling their used or new items.
Ebay is a site that pretty much lets you shop for anything. Shoes, clothes, clocks, watches, blenders, toys, and anything else you can physically type into the search engine. eBay has everything!
They have everything because it is their mission to be the world’s favorite shopping destination. And using eBay is easy via the website or the app.
For many, eBay is the best online shopping option financially and logically. Because often sellers are selling the same things, you can really take the time to search, read descriptions and settle on the best deal possible.
Since its launch in 1995, it has branched out with eBay Classifieds Group, which helps people find what they need on a local level. And Stub Hub, which is the world’s largest marketplace for online tickets.
Ebay is not only an excellent platform to shop on, but it is perfect for seller’s too. It’s usually the first place I go to if I want to sell something I’m no longer using or wearing. Some people have even turned selling on eBay into a lucrative career.
What Makes Ebay Unique
Ebay is unique because it was one of the earliest companies to introduce an online version of a flea market. When it was first created it went by the name AuctionWeb, which brought buyers and sellers together in an open marketplace via the web.
They even added a customer feedback option, so that buyers could rate sellers and therefore spread the word on their successful transactions.
Using eBay now, most people would look at the reviews of a seller first before going through with a purchase. The positive feedback speaks for itself.
Another unique thing about eBay is that you can search for a single item and your search can come back with 100 listings from 100 different sellers.
Because eBay allows sellers to set their price, you can find the best deal possible on what you are looking for in a condition that is acceptable to you.
And because eBay is used around the world, it really is a perfect place to find hidden treasure, antiques and weird knick knacks.
Your special item could be shipping from Sweden, or you can filter your search and keep everything based in the USA.
Buying on Ebay
When it comes to making a purchase on eBay, you have several options. The first way to make a purchase is by bidding. Remember eBay started off as an auction site.
A seller will list an item at a low price and then have potential buyers bid on it until the auction ends. Like a real life auction, the highest bid wins. When you win, eBay notifies you immediately and then you can proceed with your payment.
Some auctions will give you the choice to Buy It Now for a set amount. This is higher than the bidding price because it is closer to what the seller hopes to earn from the sale.
But not everything is sold as an auction, many things on eBay are listed at a flat value and you can simply add to your cart like any other shopping site.
Many times you will see that the seller allows you to make an offer. If it’s reasonable you can end up saving a few bucks.
And if something doesn’t work out with your purchase, eBay has been known for having great customer service.
They understand that maintaining a positive image is all about the positive customer feedback. So eBay works to resolve complaints fairly quickly.
If something hasn’t shipped in a timely manner or if your item arrives damaged, eBay will work with you until you are happy with the outcome of the situation.
Sometimes this means a refund and other times it means getting a replacement item from the seller. Whatever the case, eBay has your back as a customer.
They want to keep you coming back again and bad reviews won’t let that happen.
Pros and Cons of Ebay
- Free to use
- Low prices on valuable items
- Can find pretty much anything you are looking for
- Shopping via the web or app
- Easy to navigate
- Access to items from around the world
- Bid on things or buy outright
- Can request a refund if purchase isn’t up to par or if seller fails to ship in a timely manner
- No guarantee of quality (make sure to read seller reviews)
- Easy to get caught up in a bidding war and overspend
- So many sellers, can get overwhelming
Clearly there’s a reason eBay has been around for so long and continues to be well loved. Everyone is using it both for it’s familiarity and ease of use. The buyer guarantees are top notch.
So when it comes to snagging great deals for your everyday items, eBay is your trusted source for just that.
“Find everything but the ordinary.”
Bonanza was launched in 2008 in Seattle, Washington because the founder refused to stand in another rainy day garage sale. Bonanza has since become a household name in the world of ecommerce despite a slow start.
At the time, Bonanza was competing with eBay and Craigslist, but clearly something was missing from those markets that turned Bonanza into the successful platform it is today. And reviews have claimed it is one of the best eBay alternatives out there.
Like eBay, Bonanza is a selling platform linking entrepreneurs with customers from around the globe. The product was built by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs.
You can find more than 10 million items offered on Bonanza. And you don’t need to bid on anything. Popular categories tend to be jewelry, clothing, antiques, collectibles, electronics and home goods.
Though Bonanza has been around for fewer years than eBay, it has managed to snag an excellent Better Business Bureau rating. So you at least know Bonanza is operating in a trustworthy manner.
What makes Bonanza Unique
Because Bonanza doesn’t bother with bidding, you are more likely to find items on there that you may not find anywhere else. Especially if you are looking for antiques.
All items sold on Bonanza are from private sellers, so you are literally connected with thousands of individual vendors.
There are around 50,000 sellers from nearly 200 countries on Bonanza. And through them you have access to 35 million listings!
That’s a lot of items to wade through, but if you know what you want, simply search for it. Bonanza prides itself on being a step above eBay and Amazon because you are more likely to find items that aren’t mass produced.
Simplicity is another reason Bonanza stands out. Their website isn’t super flashy and is organized in a way that keeps it user friendly.
Bonanza is top-rated when it comes to the ease of use of their interface. Pair that with their excellent customer service, and you have struck online flea market gold.
Buying on Bonanza
When it comes to making your purchase, all you have to do is add your item to your cart and check out. That’s it!
When you add something to your cart, Bonanza will automatically provide other listings that may peak your interest.
Buying a cookbook? Well, how about checking out a pressure cooker and ceramic serving dish as well. You don’t need to feel obligated to buy these things, but sometimes you may not realize you need something until you see it.
Bonanza takes all forms of payment, including PayPal, so checking out is easy. And because you don’t have to bid on anything, the price you see is what you pay, including any shipping charges.
Shipping is one of the things you will want to keep your eye on. Because there are thousands of things to buy worldwide, shipping can get pricey depending on location. Sometimes it helps to filter for items that are free shipping only.
One thing to note about Bonanza is that there are not as many reviews as you may see on other sites. Therefore, the chances of interacting with a scam artist trying to rip you off is a bit higher.
Thankfully you can try to filter these out by choosing only top rated sellers. Or only buying from someone who has more than one review.
Pros and Cons of Bonanza
- Free to use
- Open market, no need to bid
- Unique items for sale
- Working directly with sellers versus third party vendors
- Multiple payment options
- Excellent customer service from the Bonanza team
- Simple, easy to use interface
- Varying degrees of seller feedback
- High shipping costs
- Not as many reviews as some of the more popular sites out there
Buying stuff online can be a little tricky when it comes to getting both a good deal and working with a great seller. But the Bonanza team has worked hard to make Bonanza one of the top online flea markets worth checking out.
“A completely new way to shop.”
I debated whether I wanted to list PoshMark, because it fills a certain niche that is a little different from sites like eBay, Etsy, and Bonanza.
But, since PoshMark is an online marketplace, much like a flea market, I figured I had to put it on the list.
Especially because PoshMark is extremely popular for anyone looking for clothes, shoes or accessories. If you have a fashion forward personality, then PoshMark would be your mecca!
PoshMark only launched in 2011 but didn’t really rise to prominence until a few years later. It basically allows users to shop and sell a particular style.
Imagine getting a chance to shop in your favorite style icon’s closet. PoshMark gives you that chance, but with worldwide access.
The platform was designed to be a space where users could sell their gently used or new items. They have around 2 billion social connections, over 250 million uploaded items, and 5,000 brands for sale.
Some of the top expensive brands are big names like Gucci and Louboutin, but you can also find vintage pieces or more economic brands like Gap and Madewell.
On a personal level, you can really expect to find something unique on PoshMark, at a really great price. But keep in mind most of it is geared toward fashion.
The main shopping categories include clothing, shoes, make-up, jewelry, and accessories. These are available for men, women and kids.
Some may find Poshmark to be too limiting as an online shopping source. Especially because you can’t find things like homegoods or electronics on there.
But most people know to use Poshmark for shopping personal items only, and you can still find unique treasures in the form of a blouse from the 70s or jewelry from the 50s.
What Makes PoshMark Unique
PoshMark is unique because it is set up to be a peer to peer shopping experience. You can have access to people and closets specifically curated for you.
Out of all the shopping platforms that I mention, PoshMark has the strongest emphasis on social media and creating connections between users.
They also highly encourage the use of their mobile app. Similar to Instagram, you can follow a seller, their closet, or even a brand. When you open the app, you see a “feed’ similar to Instagram.
PoshMark uses algorithms that save your search information and interests so that every time you log in new items will pop up that may appeal to you.
When you set up a Poshmark account, you will have the option to put in your sizes for pants, tops, outerwear, and shoes. If you vary in size depending on the brand you can make multiple selections.
By doing this step, your searches can be filtered to only include your sizes. This saves you time from reading through thousands of listings.
You also have the option to “like” items, saving it in your account for future reference as you hem and haw over whether or not you really need it.
Then you can either sigh in relief when something says sold or grind your teeth in frustration for missing your chance.
The site also has something called a PoshParty, where sellers get together in groups to list stuff and offering some additional discounts too.
These parties are also the perfect place to focus on a specific style, brand, or type of clothing. For example you can attend a kid’s posh party, that features kid’s clothing only, therefore streamlining the process for you and expediting your shopping experience.
Another unique feature is that sellers regularly send out discounts. If you have liked something from a seller’s closet, they will send you a special deal. Because they are trying to make a sale, these deals can be really generous or just ok.
For a limited amount of time, a seller may lower the price of an item by 10% or 25%. Or offer discounted or free shipping.
The notices will come directly to your email. Or ping your smartphone if you have notifications turned on.
Keep in mind that these alerts will go out to everyone who has liked the item, so from there it can be a bit of a race to see who will take advantage of the deal first.
If you really want something, this is the perfect time to take advantage of a good deal. Or you can choose to give a seller a counteroffer and try to save even more money.
Buying on PoshMark
Sellers list stuff on PoshMark at a set price. But similar to eBay, you have the option to make an offer to see if you can shave off a few dollars.
In a fair world, these should be reasonable offers. But you’d be surprised how low someone will go to make a sale.
The main rule of thumb to remember is to ask as many questions as you can before making a purchase. The open communication with sellers is great on PoshMark.
You can request additional photos to be uploaded, how old something is, maybe even a receipt to check the authenticity of something. The more information you get out of the seller, the better chance you have of getting a good purchase.
Like many online sites that let anyone sell stuff, you have to weigh the pros and cons of purchasing something from a stranger. If you ask enough questions and get enough details, then you can’t go wrong!
Once you are fully comfortable, only then should you move forward with payment.
If you have multiple things you want to buy from the same seller, you can create a bundle. This will shave a little off your overall cost and allow them to only charge you a shipping fee once.
From there you can check out directly via PayPal, Venmo or credit card. Payment information is kept secure.
And when you receive your stuff you have three days to look it over and report back to PoshMark if something isn’t up to snuff. In those cases you can be given a return shipping label and a refund.
This time frame is crucial. Make sure you open your package and review immediately. Once that three day window passes, you have missed your chance at a refund unless you submit a more serious complaint.
It is in this particular area that PoshMark has seen the most complaints, but other than that, they remain a very popular online shopping source.
Pros and Cons of PoshMark
- Free to use
- Great prices
- Option to negotiate the price
- Open communication with sellers
- Fast shipping (if seller ships in timely manner)
- Option to bundle and save on shipping
- Easy to use app
- Enjoy up to 70% off retail price
- Sellers that are slow to ship
- Poor quality items
- Poor customer service from PoshMark
While PoshMark can have its ups and downs, I do love the community vibe that it fosters. Even though everything is online, being able to communicate over your purchase gives you more confidence before you need to spend money.
And while some sellers can be a bit overzealous in how often they send out discount alerts, no one ever pressures you to make a purchase.
Trust me, I look at my liked items for months before I finally buy something.
“We make it super easy to buy almost anything.”
Mercari was introduced in Japan in 2013 and within a few months of launching, had already over a million listings on the app. The app spread to the U.S. the following year and then the UK and has since been growing in popularity.
The UK shop has since closed, so they must have reigned in their expansion just a bit in order to not get too overwhelmed.
Mercari functions a bit like eBay, except you don’t have to bid on anything or deal with auction times.
Like eBay and Bonanza, Mercari functions much like an online flea market where you can pretty much buy anything, as their tagine suggests.
You can find clothing and shoes, housewares, electronics, gaming consoles and pretty much everything you could want or need, at a fraction of the cost.
Mercari has nearly 150,000 new listings uploaded every day. That’s a lot of stuff!
Sellers will list their items, snap a few photos and set a price. You do have the option to offer a lower price, but in general the listed amounts are reasonable. Though you have to appreciate the chance to haggle.
If you find high end items, they are typically 50% or more cheaper than purchasing directly from a store. Plus, Mecari will throw out additional discounts on already low prices.
Mercari is available for both IOS and Android users, and if you don’t have a smartphone, you can always use their website directly.
What Makes Mercari Unique
Something you don’t often see with sites like Mercari is excellent customer service. But Mercari really knocks this out of the park.
Their customer service team always has someone available 24/7. Any issues that may arise with a purchase, they immediately get in contact to help rectify the situation.
Another unique feature of Mercari is the ability to contact the seller directly. You can ask questions, request more photos and essentially hammer out the details of whatever you are trying to purchase.
A good seller will be quick to respond and willing to give you all the information you need. If a seller doesn’t check these boxes, then they are probably not worth buying from.
One good thing to note about Mercari is their Buyer Protection and their moneyback guarantee. If things aren’t legit with an item you’ve purchased, you have three days to request a full refund.
On a side note, if you want to use Mercari as a site to sell stuff on, they give you $5 when you post your first listing. That’s money that you can turn around and use on something you may have had your eye on.
Buying on Mercari
Like many of the online flea markets I have mentioned so far, making a purchase on Mercari is easy. Downloading the app will make using Mercari that much easier, though you don’t need the app to buy on Mercari.
When you open the app or website, you can search directly for something by typing in the search bar, or browse through the listed categories.
Mercari lists a lot of great, popular brands. Many of these items are usually up to 70% off. Sometimes more. Mercari is most often used by people looking for trendier items.
Once you find what you like, click the “Buy Now” button, “Buy with PayPal” or “Add to Cart.”
Or make an offer if you think the listed price is a wee bit much.
Though this option isn’t always available. That is up to the seller to decide.
Remember to keep offers reasonable. From there, sellers have 3 days to ship before you can put in a claim to request a refund.
Make sure that when your stuff ships, a tracking number is provided, that way you know the seller really placed the shipment. This has been one of the main complaints from Mercari users.
Pros and Cons of Mercari
- Free to Use
- Access to both an online website and handy app
- Access to thousands of items from varying categories
- Quick shipments (usually)
- While there is a website, most of the useful parts of Mercari are only available via the app (such as making offers and communicating with sellers).
- Site has complaints of scam artists
- Complaints of poor quality (some people are selling extremely used stuff)
As online flea markets go, Mercari is right there in the middle in terms of its quality, ease of use, and potential to find what you need.
The app has been downloaded by over 100 million people. Clearly it’s doing something right. But you won’t know until you go on there and check it out first hand.
6. Ruby Lane
About Ruby Lane
“Vintage begins here.”
Meet one of the most popular vintage, online flea markets around. It is one of the largest online markets specializing in antiques, collectibles, vintage fashion, art and jewelry.
Ruby Lane was founded in 1998. At its inception, it was created as a place to make it easier to find classically vintage things.
The site boasts nearly 125,000 new listings every day, has over 2,500 active shop owners, and over a million site views every month.
Ruby Lane prescreens all of its sellers through their in-house antique and art professionals. This is to ensure the authenticity of the items being listed.
Only when certain standards are met can a shop be open for business. In 2019, Ruby Lane topped the charts as one of the most popular online marketplaces.
What Make Ruby Lane Unique
Because of Ruby Lane’s specific screening process, you are guaranteed to get your hands on some true treasures and one-of-a-kind pieces.
Although Ruby Lane has a lot of listed sellers, you still get that small-town, antique shop vibe when searching online.
That’s because each seller has their own little shop. You can communicate with sellers easily back and forth. You might even find that special shop you go back to over and over again.
Ruby Lane has earned a top spot when it comes to excellent customer service and excellent communication from sellers with their buyers.
Some of the strongest selling categories on Ruby Lane are dolls, collectibles, jewelry and antiques.
Basically Ruby Lane is marketed toward specialized items. The kind of things you can’t always find on the ground at your local thrift stores or consignment shops.
Buying on Ruby Lane
Ruby Lane is based in the U.S. so the listings are posted in dollar amounts.
When you pull up the website, you will automatically see the list of categories along the top of the webpage. Beneath that there will be pictures of trending vintage items.
You can click on one of these or you can opt to type directly in the search engine for what you are looking for.
Once you select something, you will see more pictures, a description, and purchasing details. Most purchases are direct, in which you pay the listed price. Though some sellers do post a “make an offer” option, allowing you to suggest a lower sale price.
If it’s reasonable, most often seller’s will accept. You can also email the shop owner to get more details before moving forward with a purchase and come to terms with a set price in advance.
One thing to note is that you can only complete a purchase if you set up an account with Ruby Lane, otherwise items can only be held in your cart temporarily.
Setting up an account is easy. All you need is an email and password to get started. Once complete, you will need to add your name and address to your account before you can complete your purchase.
Ruby Lane accepts all forms of payment. From PayPal, credit cards, to check or even a money order. Not every shop allows checks and money orders. Those that do will detail the specifics of payments in their Terms of Sale.
Pros and Cons of Ruby Lane
- Free to set up account
- Easy to use and navigate website
- The go-to source for true vintage items
- Quality pieces that have gone through a real vetting process
- Ability to communicate with sellers
- Each seller’s shop gives small town vibes
- Smaller market of goods (compared to Etsy or eBay)
- No app
Not having an app isn’t a total deal breaker, but it does mean you’ll need to use a computer when you need to look for something.
If you are on the hunt for something truly vintage, then Ruby Lane will be perfect for you. Otherwise I would look through some of these other sites first.
“The place where people want to buy anything and everything.”
Amazon is very much a recognized name all around the world. It’s probably one of the main sites people use when they need pretty much anything.
Founded in 1994, but not public until 1997, Amazon quickly became a selling giant and is considered one of the big four tech companies, right up there with Apple, Google and Facebook.
What started as a site where you could buy music and videos, has quickly grown into an online shoppers one-stop-shop. It wasn’t until 1999 that Amazon turned into the flea market it is today, allowing individual sellers to post their wares on the site.
The founder wanted Amazon to become the place where people went to buy anything and everything. And that’s exactly how the site functions.
On Amazon you can buy toilet paper, a toothbrush, a laptop and television all at the tap of a button. It’s like visiting a Target or Walmart, only you don’t have to get in your car and drive anywhere.
I hesitated to add Amazon to the list because it is probably the least like an old school flea market. But, since private sellers can put their stuff on Amazon, I figured it does count.
The beauty of Amazon is that prices are already low, you don’t bid on anything, and there’s no need to try and haggle with a seller.
Even better, Amazon now offers nice features like instant coupons, sometimes offering $5 off something and in other cases 10%.
What Makes Amazon Unique
Amazon really is the perfect site to use for your everyday items. Though you can also find vintage stuff and antiques on there too. But confirming the value of something is a lot harder.
Amazon doesn’t vet everything a seller puts out there. And when it comes to antiques, it is a dice roll on whether something is authentic. Or if a seller is actually legitimate.
Despite this, you have to appreciate Amazon’s ability to not only give you options but to give you everything in one place.
Another unique feature of Amazon are the reviews. Because Amazon is used worldwide, people have gotten in the habit of leaving frequent, in-depth reviews.
Sometimes these are paid reviews, meaning the reviewer received their product for free, but often you will get to read genuine feedback from customers.
This helps new buyers become aware of which sellers are scam artists or if a purchase is actually worth making. Just think of how often a bad reviews talks you out of spending money.
One of Amazon’s most popular features is there Amazon Prime. With Amazon Prime you have access to enjoy 2-day shipping or even 1-day shipping for just $3.99. I would say about 90% of the time, you item arrives in the expected two days.
Buying On Amazon
First off, don’t check out the Amazon website unless you have a clear indication of what you want. It is incredibly easy to get distracted on there and buy something just because you see a good deal.
If you know what you want, type it directly into the search bar versus browsing through the categories. I only say this to keep you from overspending.
Whatever you search for, unless it’s something rare, expect to have several items pop up. They will either be exactly what you’re looking for or something close to.
This part can get really overwhelming. Mainly because you just don’t know which item is worth purchasing.
That is when it is helpful to filter your search to something like the top rated or priced from lowest to highest. Whatever fits your preference.
Then all you have to do is add the item to your cart and check out. Sometimes, featured pieces will have a green little note offering an additional discount, which will be applied at checkout.
To complete payment, you can either use a credit or debit card, HSA/FSA card (for eligible purchases), personal checking account, EBT card, Amazon store credit card or an Amazon gift card. Unfortunately Amazon does not allow for PayPal check out.
And one thing to note about Amazon purchases is that a lot of them come with free returns, so if something doesn’t work out, you can always send it back.
Amazon makes it easy to send something right back for a refund. Make sure whatever you are buying says free returns next to the word Prime.
Pros and Cons of Amazon
- Free to make an account
- Free 2-day shipping for prime members
- Can buy almost anything
- Option for free returns or upgraded 1-day shipping
- Additional discounts and cyber deals
- Chance of dealing with scam artists
- Poor communicating with sellers
- Low quality items
- Delayed or damaged shipments
- No way to authenticate a purchase before buying
From what I’ve read, Amazon can be notorious for bad sellers. Remember, Amazon does let anyone set up their own shop.
So just keep that in mind before buying anything. And always check the reviews.
About Amazon Handmade
“Unique products crafted by makers around the world.”
Although I mentioned Amazon above. I wanted to list Amazon Handmade separately as it has its own place as an online source for finding unique items.
Handmade at Amazon, or Amazon Handmade, was launched in 2015. It is probably Amazon’s way of competing against a powerhouse like Etsy, but they haven’t said so officially.
Because it is so relatively new, there is still much to learn about Amazon Handmade, mainly for those wanting to sell on it, but buyers are learning things too.
Amazon Handmade was created with the specific purpose of giving those individuals making their own stuff, a place to sell their wares. Items have to be handmade or custom in order to even be listed.
Unlike regular Amazon, where anyone can set up a store front and start selling, Amazon Handmade has a stricter criteria. In fact, artisans have to apply and get approved in order to start selling in the first place.
Although it sounds like Amazon Handmade is a complete seperate site from Amazon, it really isn’t. Amazon Handmade is a subset of Amazon and can be found on the Amazon site, just like Amazon Pantry and Amazon Music.
If you are really looking for something handmade, it is best to go directly to Amazon Handmade versus filtering through the entirety of Amazon.
What Makes Amazon Handmade Unique
Like Etsy, Amazon Handmade has a large list of categories to choose from, though not as extensive as Etsy’s.
Amazon Handmade is special because you are guaranteed that everything listed is something handmade or personally produced by the maker. Amazon does not allow sellers to list items if they are outsourcing their manufacturing.
Having an artisan-made piece makes hunting for a special treasure that much easier. One-of-a-kind items are hard to come by.
Buying on Amazon Handmade
When you pull up the Amazon Handmade homepage, you’ll see a curated list of favorite collections, favorite finds, maker spotlights, and a list of categories.
You can find jewelry, home goods, beauty items, handbags, stationary, toys and more.
Amazon Handmade functions exactly like Amazon. So the interface is user friendly and not any different than what you would be used to.
Prime members can even reap the benefits of Prime shipping with several of the sellers listed on Amazon Handmade. If an item has that Prime logo attached to it, the seller is promising to uphold Amazon’s two-day window delivery.
If the Prime logo is missing, then you know seller’s are taking care of shipping personally and your stuff may arrive within a week versus two days.
Checking out remains the same as well. Just click and add to your cart and proceed with payment. Amazon accepts all major credit cards and Amazon gift cards. They do not (yet) accept PayPal.
Pros and Cons of Amazon Handmade
- Can use directly with your established Amazon account
- Amazon Prime available (depends on seller)
- Guaranteed to get something unique and handmade
- Can run into issues communicating with sellers
- No real guarantee of quality
Since Amazon Handmade is fairly new in this online flea market industry, it is still growing in terms of its potential to provide specialized items.
But since Amazon is pretty much successful no matter what they throw out there, Amazon Handmade is sure to thrive too.
“Give the gift of handmade.”
Artfire is like Etsy and Rubylane’s younger, cheaper cousin. It has a lot of the same vibes as both sites, only without the high end vintage items of Rubylane and the notoriety of Etsy.
Artfire was launched in 2008 as a marketplace for those special crafters and makers of unique and wonderful things.
The site works by letting individual sellers use the platform as a way to set up digital shop, exuding the image of a modern day online flea market.
What Makes Artfire Unique
Most notably, Artfire offers a lot of unique, vintage pieces. And not all of it is clothes.
You can find vintage dolls, shoes, pez dispensers and even soda machines on there. Plus household items like couches, dressers and tables.
The prices are really great too and adhere to a more traditional flea market in that sense.
Shoes, books, wedding apparel pet supplies, art, toys and games are just a few of the category options on Artfire. You can further filter your search by specifying whether it should be handmade or vintage.
Another unique feature is that you can also search for something based on a seller’s store size. If you only want to stick with small stores, you have a better chance of supporting small businesses.
Buying on Artfire
Choose to search through the list of categories or type something directly into the search line. Whatever option you go with, expect to browse through thousands of items
Artfire functions like a lot of other online flea markets. Sellers have set up their personal store and posted their wares.
Everything for sale will have a description, price, photos, shipping costs, store policies, and hopefully a few reviews. Plus, if you need more information, you can reach out to the seller directly with questions.
If you don’t want to complete a purchase right away, you can save it to your favorites while you mull it over or even add it to your Amazon wishlist.
Surprisingly enough, you don’t actually need to set up an Artfire account in order to make a purchase. Once you add something to your cart you can start the check out process.
You’ll be prompted to input your zip code and just click the check out button. Payments are processed through PayPal.
Pros and Cons of Artfire
- Free to sign up, but not necessary
- Full of a lot of vintage items, not just clothes
- Different ways to break down your search
- Great way to support small businesses (and local for those in the tucson area)
- Complaints of poor customer service
- Complaints of slow shipments (or no shipments)
- Can take time to filter through the junk and the true treasures
If awesome vintage finds are your thing, then I recommend checking out Artfire. Especially if you are looking for cheaper prices than some of the bigger names out there.
“Your online virtual flea market.”
VFlea was established in 2015, making it fairly young when compared to the other online flea markets available today.
Clearly the founder thought something was missing from those other sites, because VFlea was created with the sole purpose of embodying that flea market vibe in an online platform.
Instead of the limitation of one single flea market, vFlea gives you a chance to access a global market.
You will be able to visit a bunch of mini stores, where sellers have worked to set up a legit store front, parting with treasures that could soon be yours.
What Makes vFlea Unique
When competing against strong online sources like eBay, Amazon and Craigslist, vFlea has worked hard to offer features that set it apart.
For one thing you don’t have to deal with auctions. And on vFlea you can actually do things like trading items or even haggling for a better price. And if you find something local, you can make arrangements to pick it up directly.
Another unique aspect of vFlea is the kind of things you will find on their. This is where they really give off that flea market vibe.
Not only can you find vintage goods and antiques, you could take an unredeemed gift card off of someone’s hands or even buy coffee bean plants so you can start growing your own beans.
Some of the stuff listed on vFlea are downright bizarre, for instance you can find a timeshare on there for $21K right now. No one will probably go for it but at least the option is there.
Despite this particular listing, you can really find some great items and fantastic deals on vFlea.
Another perk of vFlea is that you can actually put out a “wanted” ad. Meaning if there is something you are looking for and vFlea doesn’t have it, as soon as they have something similar they will let you know.
Buying on vFlea
Two of the most popular features about vFlea are the options to haggle and barter, which is not something you see on a lot of other sites, though eBay technically does let you haggle with their “make an offer” option.
VFlea is very similar in this sense. Like all haggling, it is up to the sellers discretion to accept a reasonable offer from a potential buyer. As a buyer, this gives you your best chance of saving some extra money.
Bartering allows buyers to either offer a different, lower price, or come to some kind of trade agreement with the seller.
After that checking out is fairly easy. All payments are processed through PayPal, making your checkout process safe and secure.
Pros and Cons of vFlea
- Free to sign up
- Ability to haggle or barter
- Place” wanted” ads and get alerted when your want is posted
- There isn’t a handy app to use
- Fairly new so not a lot of reviews available
If you are looking for cheap items, really low prices, and a plethora of items then vFlea is the site for you. It can actually be a lot of fun browsing through some of the more unique listings that they have.
For this particular online flea market, someone’s junk can really be your treasure.
The internet has made it incredibly easy to do anything and everything from a computer or smartphone.
We order our food online, medicine, gifts and more, so it is only natural that we gravitate toward online flea markets to fulfill our shopping needs too.
Hopefully one of these strikes your interest and helps you find the treasure, antique or everyday item that you have been on the hunt for. If not, then you are in luck.
These are just a few of the many online flea markets available. Honorable mentions include:
- Fleabay – Safe, online classifieds. Find anything from knee socks to a puppy up for adoption
- 5miles – Good option if you want to buy locally but not have to use Craigslist
- Craigslist – Another good local option, where you can find anything
- Facebook Marketplace – An under-utilized source of awesome deals
- OfferUp – Convenient app where you can buy both locally and nationally
If you have used any of the mentioned sites, let me know in the comments below. We’d love to know which has been your favorite and why.
For those trying these out for the first time, tell us about your experience!
Also, though this article focused on online flea markets worth buying from, I want to mention that all of these sites are great for selling too!
As a seller you’d have to deal with fees for using the sites, usually when you sell something, but if you want to make some extra cash and declutter your space, these online flea markets would help!
Thanks for reading and happy frugaling.