L.A. has marketplaces for everything from antique tchotchkes to rare comic books and begonias in bulk. Read up on six of our favorites—including farmers' markets, flea markets and a few more niche offerings—plus a top market tip for each from a local vendor. Don’t forget your tote!
Long Beach Antique Market
Every month, more than 800 vendors set up shop in Long Beach, hawking goods such as handmade furniture, old record players, fur jackets, vintage signs and—because this is Southern California—surfboards. With the market spread over 20 acres, you won’t feel cramped or rushed, even while you’re in line for the snack bar, where you can get draught beers and delicious cheese-stuffed jalapeño pretzels. Many of the vendors are full-time pickers, so chances are you’ll find what you’re looking for, along with some surprise gems.
Top tip: "Know what you want before you get here; look on eBay under past auctions (not what people are asking for, but what was actually paid) to get an idea of the true value of something," says vendor Dan Golden.
4901 E Conant St (323-665-5703, longbeachantiquemarket.com). Third Sun of the month 6:30am–2pm; $6, early-bird admission (doors open at 5:30am) $12.
Since 1921, L.A.’s Flower Market—one of the largest in the country—has been a fragrant mecca for all things blooming. Each morning, roughly 50 vendors haul their living wares out of cold storage and set up stalls that transform a giant, empty warehouse space into a colorful maze of bromeliads, eucalyptus branches, ranunculus buds and more. Whether you’re planning an event or just love a rare bloom, this daily market is a joy to wander through—and very much worth the small $2 cash fee at the entrance ($1 on Saturdays).
Top tip: "Walk around and compare both prices and quality before you buy," says Jorge Guerrero of the GM stall. "Sometimes you can buy really cheap, but then you open your package at home and have a sad surprise."
754 Wall St (213-622-1966, originallaflowermarket.com). Mon, Wed 8am–noon; Tue, Thu 6am–11am; Fri 8am–2pm; Sat 6am–2pm. Mon–Fri $2, Sat $1.
Studio City Farmers' Market
Studio City may be better known for strip malls and, well, studios, but its beloved farmers’ market is a bona fide shopping destination. Organic fruits and vegetables from dozens of local vendors share space with artisan cheeses, seafood, meat and flowers, plus the occasional jewelry or soap stand. After stuffing their totes to the brim, visitors head to a row of hot-food stalls for breakfast burritos at Baja Burritos or lobster rolls at Wicked Maine Lobster. And if the little ones are in tow, the kids’ section is unparalleled: What other market has a petting zoo, a bouncy castle, a climbing wall and pony rides?
Top tip: "If you don’t see something you like, ask for it; a vendor may start making it if enough people ask," says vendor Rondo Mieczkowski of Coldwater Canyon Provisions.
Ventura Pl between Laurel Canyon Blvd and Radford Ave (studiocityfarmersmarket.com). Sun 8am–2pm; free.
Frank & Son Collectible Show
What started in 1988 as a small sports collectible show has since morphed into 65,000 square feet of warehouse space dedicated to comic books, toys, video games, posters, plush and signed memorabilia. The market’s selection of pop-culture paraphernalia is so popular, particularly on weekends, that parking quickly becomes a challenge; show up on a Wednesday (though some stalls will be closed) or before opening on Saturday to beat the crowds.
Top tip: "Buy what you love," says vendor Donna Sutton of Star Collectors. "Don’t buy something because you think you’ll make a million dollars."
19649 E San Jose Ave, City of Industry (909-444-7955, frankandsonshow.net). Wed 3–9pm, Sat 9am–5pm; free.
The Rose Bowl Flea is all about superlatives: It’s one of the largest, oldest and most famous flea markets in the country (not to mention one of the most Instagrammed locations in L.A.). Approaching it can be daunting, so arrive with cash, comfortable shoes and plenty of time. You’ll find a plethora of antiques and vintage items from every era alongside crafts, clothes and unexpected treasures, all mixed together without any rhyme or reason, which is part of the charm.
Top tip: "Follow your favorite vendors on Instagram, and comment as soon as you see something you want so they know to hold it for you," says vendor Ivy Alphonse of SV Pickers. "The best items get sold before the market even opens."
1001 Rose Bowl Dr, Pasadena (facebook.com/pg/rosebowlfleamarket). Second Sun of the month 5am–4:30pm; $9–$20.
The L.A. farmers’ market to which all others are compared—yes, even Hollywood’s star-studded affair—Santa Monica Farmers’ Market is where chefs spend their early morning hours stocking up for the dinner rush. This Westside institution packs the best vegetable growers, fruit juicers, cheese makers and bread bakers into a few blocks just east of the water, meaning you can peruse its stalls for super-fresh, local fare with an ocean breeze at your back. It’s the ultimate SoCal shopping experience.
Top tip: "Ask questions if you don’t know what something is, and take the time to get to know your vendors," says vendor Jonathan Aguilar of Bolanos Family Sprouts. "These are both good ways to get free samples, too!"
Arizona Ave between Fourth and Ocean Aves (smgov.net/portals/farmersmarket). Wed 8:30am–1:30pm, Sat 8am–1pm; free.
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