We think everyone can agree that there is something totally magical about markets (and no, we don’t just mean their magical ability to empty your wallet!). Not only are they full of unique finds, fresh produce, and gourmet treats, but shopping at some of our fave Brisbane markets like the Saturday Fresh and Sunday Discovery markets at Rocklea, and Eagle Farm Markets at Doomben means you can also snag a pretty decent bargain too—which we all know is crucial (especially at Christmas).
So, let us arm you with some tips and tricks to ensure you make the most out of the weekly weekend markets (and save some dosh too).
- Cash is essential, especially if you’re planning to hit the markets first thing. Although some stalls will have all the ~fancy~ technology, there’s something wholesome about using actual money to purchase actual goods from the actual store owner. Also, vendors will appreciate it and you won’t overspend. Win-win!
- Go hungry and have breakfast at the markets, rather than your go-to café. Not only will it be a refreshing mix up to your regular routine, you can get some amazing food that’s much better bang for your buck.
- BYO bags, a backpack—so you’re totally hands free—or a shopping cart/roller bag (you’ll thank yourself later) to maximise your haul. Life hack: if you’ve got a distance to drive or you’re buying food that might spoil, chuck an Esky or ice brick in for the journey.
- Before buying anything, do a lap to eye up deals and quality. Make mental notes and plan to buy the largest/heaviest items at the end, especially if you don’t have wheels (refer back to our roller bag suggestion you probably scoffed at a moment ago).
- Go regularly and get to know the stallholders. You might make a friend, or at least you’ll get some insider knowledge and maybe some goodies set aside.
- Common sense here people: don’t squeeze the wares and damage them. Unlike large chains, these small local vendors have limited produce and every piece counts.
- To get the best selection and freshest produce, arriving early is a must. But, if you’re after a sweet deal, most vendors will be more willing to give end-of-day discounts. Haggling isn’t really done at produce/farmer’s markets, but you’ll usually find low prices anyway if you’re buying straight from the source. But, you might be able to strike a deal if you’re buying in bulk for meal prepping, freezing, entertaining over the festive season, or making jams and pickles for cute AF Christmas presents.
- Ask questions! If you see something unfamiliar, like an unusual tropical fruit or a crazy chutney flavour, take a risk and try something you wouldn’t normally. Ask how to cook it, how to store it, and even what to pair it with.
- Going with a meal plan will help you to shop strategically and ensure you’re picking up everything you need to limit trips to the supermarket later. It’s all about smart shopping, people!
- Don’t ignore the ugly produce—unlike supermarkets, not all farm-fresh grown produce is shiny and perfect. But this doesn’t mean that the flavour and quality is compromised, because you know it’s fresh and real.
Fleamarkets + Garage Sales
- Maximise comfort—we’re talking sensible shoes, donning a big hat, and remembering to slip slop slap. Luckily, there are plenty of shaded areas throughout Eagle Farm Markets and Brisbane Marketplace at Rocklea—but If you’re comfy, you can browse for as long as you need.
- Take bubble wrap or newspaper for wrapping fragile items. Make sure you keep everything safe and secure during transit because there’s no swapsies.
- Be patient! Market shopping can be a longer process (which is obvs half the fun!). Have a good brekkie, neck that double shot, and be prepared to look a little harder and dig a little deeper to find what you’re looking for or uncover some hidden gems.
- Look over items thoroughly—once you’ve bought it, it’s yours. If something’s a steal but needs repairs, factor in the cost. You might find you’d be spending more than you’re willing to—or let’s be real, if it’s a complex job, never getting around to it—so yep, you’ve actually lost money.
- Flea markets are the place where you can often barter, but make reasonable offers and don’t expect big discounts first thing in the morning. If you’re looking for an easier bargain, head in later in the day. Our tip for not getting carried away? Decide what your maximum price is beforehand, and actually stick to it!
- Walk around first, but unlike a produce market, if you see something you have to have, buy it then and there—flea market items are unique and it might go quickly. Just don’t act too desperate—you might still be able to bag a bargain!
- Use your smartphone to search eBay and compare the cost of a similar item. This will give your haggling figures a good base.
- Remember, it’s not Antiques Roadshow—the chances of you finding a priceless treasure for 50 cents are not high. But that doesn’t mean you won’t nab a great bargain or an interesting or unusual buy.
And above all, have fun! Markets usually have the most relaxed atmosphere and often live local music that set the good vibes. Add great food, exciting discoveries and local produce, what more could you want?
Editor's note: This article is proudly sponsored by Brisbane Marketplace and endorsed by The Urban List. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who make The Urban List possible. Click here for more information on our editorial policy.
Image credit: Hayley Williamson