Why I Hunt for Vintage Finds at Church Flea Markets

Hi there! How was your weekend? Mine was just lovely–full of special birthday celebrations. Yep, yesterday was my birthday 🙂 We spent the day with my sweet daughter who performed in a staged reading of a student-written play at her college. Such a wonderful birthday present!

Earlier in the weekend, I restocked my antique booth and hit a couple of thrift stores with my sweet husband–a truly perfect way to celebrate. Well, not as perfect as garage sales, but beggars can’t be choosers when it’s not the garage sale season yet(!).

In today’s post about vintage finds at church flea markets I’m sharing why I enjoying hunting at them for the good stuff.  Again, it still being winter and all here in the chilly Northeast. You may also enjoy these posts: why I love estate sales, how to rock your garage sale season, and my garage saling guide.

Vintage Finds at a Church Flea Market 3 Vintage Scottish Terrier figurines adirondackgirlatheart.com

Why I Hunt for Vintage Finds at Church Flea Markets

In general, I’m not one to rush out to a church “jumble” or “white elephant” sale. If nothing much else is going on by way of vintage sales, then I might pop in and check it out, usually later in the day. If it’s an historically excellent sale, then it’s already on my calendar, and I will attend it religiously (there are two of those in my area).

But otherwise, I can’t be bothered by the massive crowds and piles of junk that have to be waded through to find anything of value. Just my opinion. But for me, something advertised as a “flea market,” often means great opportunities for a vintage-loving girl like myself, and they don’t come around that often in my neck of the woods, so I’m usually THERE when they do.

Church flea markets mean that multiple people are selling all different kinds of goods at all different price points. Usually there are several rooms filled with vendors selling new stuff, antiques, vintage, and garage sale level goods.

A local United Methodist church holds one the first weekend in March, which I always enjoy attending. Two floors of both small and large rooms are filled with people offering all kinds of merchandise. I arrived late in the afternoon this year, with my sweet husband in tow, and still managed to pick up a few good vintage finds.

Vintage Finds at the Church Flea Market

Vintage Pottery shoe, matchbox bus, pottery pitcher adirondackgirlatheart.comLike this little pottery shoe, which I plan to use as a bottle brush tree receptical come Christmas (cost: 25¢). I’ll tie another bottle brush tree to the top of the vintage matchbox bus (cost: 50¢), and the newer, miniature spongeware pitcher (cost: 25¢) joins a small “accidental” collection that I hope to post about sometime soon.

Vintage Curacao Made in France Dolfi miniature jugAnother miniature pitcher that once held a sample of Dolphi Cointreau also joins the collection (cost: 25¢).

Antique miniature Fire Wagon OrnamentI wasn’t sure what this piece was when I bought it (cost: 50¢), but I’ve since determined that it’s a fire wagon, which would have been drawn by horses. Unfortunately, the back of the seat is broken off, but I find it very interesting, nonetheless (value: $10-15 if in better condition).

Vintage Rhinestone Costume Jewelry BroochesI picked up these three vintage rhinestone pins from the same vendor (cost: 50¢ each). I thought they might come in handy for a future as yet-to-be-determined project or two. Those lips are something else! My last name starts with a “P,” so of course I needed that one.

Vintage Yardley English Lavendar Tin, Darner, Baby Ben alarm clockThe Yardley talc powder tin was a fun find (cost: $2, value: $10-15), the Baby Ben by Westclox is for sale on eBay at the moment (cost: $2, value: $12-20), and I sell a lot of sewing notions on eBay and plan a blog post about darners in the near future (cost: $2).

Vintage wooden trayI need another beat up tray screaming for a makeover like I need a hole in my head, but what’s a girl to do when she finds such an interesting one for just 50¢? She’s got to buy it, of course. I know you understand. [Those of you who don’t are probably reading the wrong blog, LOL.] Shall I paint it? Stencil it? Decoupage is? So many choices…

Vintage cooking pamphlets A very sweet woman manned a table full of assorted recipe booklets, each offered for $1.00. I did a little haggling and bought four of them plus a crocheting booklet (below) for a total of $4.00. Haggling queen over here.

The New Jell-o book of surprises cooking pamphlet 1930I have found that the world contains an number of voracious Jell-o collectors, so I pick up related pieces when I find them (cost: 80¢, value: $3-4 in this condition).

Vintage 1930 Jello Cooking PamphletPlus I enjoyed the illustrations  in this 1930 edition: The New Jell-o Book of Surprises.

Royal Cook Book cooking pamphlet c.1930She had two of the Royal Cook Book pamphlets in excellent condition, so I snatched them both up (cost: 80¢, value: $6-7) .

What Shall I cook Today Spry recipe pamphlet c.1930The cartoons on this Spry (shortening) cooking pamphlet made me chuckle, especially when the purple-suited woman remarks that “…foods fried in Spry are as digestible as if baked or boiled.” The term “hydrogenated fat” was obviously unknown at the time, along with is deleterious health effects (cost: 80¢, value: $6-7). 

Dexter Filet Crochet Instructions c.1930Despite its poor condition, this Dexter pamphlet had me mesmerized with its fascinating 1930’s era ladies modeling handmade crocheted garments.

Images from Dexter Filet Lace Instruction booklet c.1930I loved the peek at the period hair and fashion styles, and thoroughly enjoyed the portrayal of “real-sized” women. Totally refreshing, but heartbreaking to realize how far from this we’ve deviated from that look today.

Antique china dog (terrier) figurinesFinal Fabulous Finds: Do you adore these pups? I’ve found over the years that dog-related vintage and antiques sell pretty well, but terriers of any kind sell extremely well. That led me to buy these darlings, which my daughter fell in love with (of course) when she saw them over spring break (cost: 50¢ each, value: $6-10 each).

The white fellow with green swirls has “Japan” stamped on his belly, as does the black-faced guy, though on his foot. The shorter black terrier has “Germany” embossed on his lower back. They will not last long in my booth.

Why Shop at Church Flea Markets

So the moral of the story is hit up as many church sales as you like, but your time will be much better spent at those specifically referred to as “flea markets.” You’ll find a superior array of merchandise and multiple sellers to haggle with, which is always enjoyable and usually profitable.

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  1. Good morning, Diana. Belated birthday Love! I work our church sale, but it’s all donated items with a group of us ladies cleaning, pricing and arranging in a too-small building. Not a flea-market type, since all money goes to the church, and also the reason we don’t do much haggling until the last day or it’s something with a very small chance of selling. We do get a lot of vintage goodies. Many things are bought up by us workers since a few of them work at the local antique mall, and I just love vintage anything! No one likes pricing the little stuff, so I do all the jewelry, and love researching the vintage brands. It’s all fun and I love watching our buyers take home the special treasures!

  2. As usual, you always have interesting finds and plans for so many of them. I have a little horse that has the same markings in blue which is why I’m writing. The horse is about the sams size as the dog. I am wondering, are these perhaps connected to Chinese New Year? I picked up the horse BECAUSE of the unusal decorations, I wonder if there are other animals from the Chinese zodiac with the same markings? A future collection?

  3. We never have church flea markets per se. my favorite is a local church rummage sale. There used to be an annual summer church barn sale which was a conglomeration of all our local Catholic Churches getting together for a full week each summer. That was SPECTACULAR. Alas it’s no more. Later this week is another twice-yearly pop up estate sale and I can’t wait. I always get my terriers there although my son had absconded with them all lol. Happy belated birthday.! Facebook would not let me comment for some reason yesterday. Glad it was a good one. Xo Kathleen

  4. Great post Diana. I love church rummage sales. Our church is having one this weekend and I always find so many great treasure there. My best find ever was a pair of MCM Walter Von Nessen marble table lamps for ten dollars! I haven’t sold mine yet but they typically sell for more than one thousand dollars a pair.
    Several dealers from our local antique shop (where I used to have my booth) go to my church and we all tend to donate items from our booth that haven’t sold. The week after the sale we will see each others items in each others booths. So funny. But it all goes to a good cause and supports local and international missions.

  5. Our Maine churches usually have “white elephant”, “Grannie’s Attic” tables at their church Christmas bazaars. I love finding treasures as many people equate “old” with “not worth much.” Also find lots of crafting supplies. It’s a long stretch in Maine till yard sale season. ONe local antique place has recently started a monthly “flea market” with dealers; can’t wait to go, but it’s hard to beat those white elephants! I can see you (Oh, maybe it’s me!) wearing all 3 pins on a wide lapeled blazer! That tray looks like a stencil project for your Shaker fair to me!

  6. Love all your great finds!! I too love shopping Church Flea Markets and used to run the biannual one at our church. But here in NEPA, they are totally different than what you described. The church will collect donations from parishioners and others for a certain period of time and then go through and price all the items. Then they will set up where ever they will hold the sale. with that merchandise. All profits then go to the church. I love going to these because usually the ones doing the pricing are elderly people who have no idea if they are looking at antiques or not. . When I do buy something that I think is much more than what they are asking, I do give them more as a donation to the church because i feel like I am cheating them. Interesting how it is different in other parts of the country…

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