A flea market (or swap meet) is a type of street market
that provides space for vendors
to sell previously-owned (second-hand)
This type of market is often seasonal. However, in recent years there has been the development of 'formal' and 'casual' markets
which divides a fixed-style market (formal) with long-term leases and a seasonal-style market with short-term leases. Consistently, there tends to be an emphasis on sustainable consumption whereby items such as used goods
and vintage clothing
can be purchased.
Flea market vending is distinguished from street vending
in that the market alone, and not any other public attraction, brings in buyers. There are a variety of vendors: some part-time who consider their work at flea markets a hobby due to their possession of an alternative job; full-time vendors who dedicate all their time to their stalls and collection of merchandise and rely solely on the profits made at the market.
Vendors require skill in following retro
and vintage trends, as well as selecting merchandise which connects with the culture and identity of their customers.
In the United States, the National Association of Flea Markets was established in 1997, which provides various resources for sellers, suppliers and buyers and also provides a means for suppliers and sellers to communicate and form affiliations.
In the United States, an outdoor swap meet is the equivalent of a flea market. However, an indoor swap meet
is the equivalent of a bazaar
, a permanent, indoor shopping center open during normal retail hours, with fixed booths or storefronts for the vendors.
Different English-speaking countries use various names for flea markets. In Australian English
, they are also called 'trash and treasure markets'. In Philippine English
, the word is ''tianggê'' from the word ''tianguis
'' via Mexican Spanish
coming from Nahuatl
. Despite common misconception, it is not derived from Hokkien
. The word supplants the indigenous term ''talipapâ''. In India, it is known as ''gurjari'' or ''shrukawadi bazaar'' or even as ''juna bazaar'' in Pune
In the United Kingdom, they are known as car boot sale
s if the event takes place in a field or car park, as the vendors will sell goods from the boot (or 'trunk'
in American English
) of their car. If the event is held indoors, such as a school or church hall, then it is usually known as either a jumble sale
, or a bring and buy sale
. In Quebec
and France, they are often called ''Marché aux puces'' (literally "flea market"), while in French-speaking
areas of Belgium
, the name ''brocante'' or ''vide-grenier'' is normally used.
In German, there are many words in use but the most common word is "Flohmarkt", meaning literally "flea market". The same applies to Swedish "loppmarknad" and Finnish "kirpputori". In the predominantly Cuban/Hispanic areas of South Florida, they are called ''l
flea store") from ''pulga'', the Spanish word for fleas. In the Southern part of Andalusia, due to the influence of Gibraltar English, they are known as "piojito", which means "little louse". In Chile
they can be called ''persas'' or ''mercados persa'' ("persian market") and ''ferias libres'', if mostly selling fruit and vegetables. In Argentina
are most likely called "feria artesanal" (artisan's or street fair) or "feria americana" (American fair), the latter name is due to have taken the idea from their United States counterpart.
While the concept existed in places such as what are now India, Bangladesh
, and China for millennia, the origins of the term "flea market" are disputed. According to one theory, the Fly Market in 18th-century New York City, located at Maiden Lane near the East River
began the association. The land on which the market took place was originally a salt marsh with a brook
, and by the early 1800s the "Fly Market" was the city's principal market.
A second theory maintains that "flea market" is a common English calque
from the French "''marché aux puces"'' which literally translates to "market of the fleas", labelled as such because the items sold were previously owned and worn, supposedly containing fleas.
The first reference to this term appeared in two conflicting stories about a location in Paris in the 1860s which was known as the "''marché aux puces".''
The traditional and most-publicized story is in the article "What Is a Flea Market?" by Albert LaFarge in the 1998 winter edition of ''Today's Flea Market'' magazine: "There is a general agreement that the term 'Flea Market' is a literal translation of the French ''marché aux puces'', an outdoor bazaar in Paris, France, named after those pesky little parasites of the order ''Siphonaptera
'' (or "wingless bloodsucker") that infested the upholstery of old furniture brought out for sale."
The second story appeared in the book ''Flea Markets'', published in Europe by Chartwell Books, has in its introduction:
There are flea markets in Japan. However, because the words "flea" and "free" are transcribed in the same Japanese katakana phonetic letters, they have mistaken them and started to use "free market" instead of "flea market" (Cf. the website of the Japanese Free Market Association).Free Market
freemarket-go.com. Accessed July 2019.
File:Paris - Vintage travel gear seller at the marche Dauphine - 5212.jpg|A vintage travel gear seller at Marché Dauphine, Saint-Ouen, the home of Paris' flea market
File:Flohmarkt2.JPG|A flea market in Germany
File:Jyväskylä - Seppälä flea market.jpg|Flea market in Seppälä, Jyväskylä, Finland
File:Kuopio_market_place_2011.jpg|A flea market on the Kuopio Market Square in Finland
File:Vendor display at Brooklyn Flea.jpg|Vendor display at the Brooklyn Flea
File:Rosemont Flea Market.jpg|Wolff's Flea Market in the United States
File:Flea market in japan.jpg|Flea market sign in Japan
File:Brand new second hand.jpg|A flea market in Hietalahdentori, Helsinki, Finland
File:Second hand marketplace Zion Square IMG 9659.jpg|A Flea market desk at Zion Square, Jerusalem, Israel
File:ErfgoedLeiden LEI001016609 Vlooienmarkt.jpg|Flea market (Leiden, end of the 19th century)
File:Beaudesert Swap Meet.jpg|alt=A large swap meet held in Beaudesert, Queensland, Australia|A large swap meet held in Beaudesert, Queensland, Australia
*Car boot sale
*MASP Antique Market
*White elephant sale
World's best flea markets directory
Flea market stories and tips
at Flea Market Insiders
National Flea Market Association