Flea market

A flea market (also flea market) is in the original sense a market, where used items are offered free of acquisition pressure by private persons. The flea market owes its name to late medieval gifts of clothing by princes. Once left to the people, traded with these garments. Thereby also the one or other flea changed the host.

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Flea markets in German-speaking countries

The big traditional flea markets are often organized on a voluntary basis by clubs or by working groups set up specifically for this purpose in the respective communities. The special atmosphere of such – usually only once or twice a year – events leads in some cities to a journey tourism from the further surrounding countryside. Many of the large flea markets decorate themselves with the most different superlatives such as largest, longest or oldest flea market of the city, the region, the country or the world. Nationally known and accordingly well attended are z. B. the Berlin flea market at Mauerpark, the Frankfurt flea market on the banks of the Main, the Bonn Rhine floodplain flea market, the Trempelmarkt in Nuremberg, the Toster market in Tostedt, the night flea market in Munich, the flea market on the promenade in Munster, the Old Town flea market on the Hohe Ufer in Hanover and the flea market in Constance on Lake Constance, the night flea market in Leipzig or the Vohwinkel flea market under the Wuppertal suspension railway. The flea market in Elisabethfehn stretches for several kilometers along the Elisabethfehn Canal. In Austria, the flea market at the Naschmarkt in Vienna and the one in Viktring near Klagenfurt are among the best-known ones.

Since 2011, flea markets have been banned on Sundays and public holidays following a decision by the Koblenz Administrative Court in Rhineland-Palatinate.

Types of flea markets

The professionally organized flea markets usually take place on a much smaller scale than traditional flea markets. The sales offer consists of – often inferior – new goods and goods offered by professionals. Increasingly, household liquidators offer goods for sale. The organizers of professionally organized markets are constantly opening up new parking lots, riverside streets and wastelands. Occasionally admission or parking fees are charged.

The flea market around the child Is widespread in Germany. Kindergartens, youth facilities or parishes organize such markets Children’s things flea markets, where baby equipment, children’s clothing, toys and children’s books are sold. These offers are used by wide sections of the population to limit spending on the naturally rapidly changing needs of growing children.

At donation flea markets the entire proceeds go either to the non-profit organizer, for example a church congregation, or to a charitable cause as a donation.

On Theme flea markets, like book, militaria, record, doll or general toy fairs, goods are traded for a specific collecting area. Market and trade journals and their websites provide information on dates and topics.

The Night flea market Is a new daytime version of the flea market, which takes place late in the afternoon until night, mostly in closed event halls. For some night flea markets, visitors have to pay an entrance fee to participate in the trade. Especially in the south and east of Germany, night flea markets have established themselves over the past few years, enabling a highly heterogeneous and urban audience to buy and sell junk of all kinds late at night. In addition, there is often a supporting program, mostly food and drinks and music. In Leipzig, the night flea market in the Kohlrabizirkus has existed since 2000, and in Munich, the night flea market has been held since 2007 night consumption instead of.

Commercial features

Flea markets are spread all over the world. Regular flea markets are held in numerous cities around the world.

Flea markets can serve as an initial sales platform for smaller commercial traders who cannot yet afford an appropriate retail store.

Flea markets can prove to be a useful environment for education in contemporary history and everyday culture. At most flea markets, media can be found, especially books and magazines, as well as sound recordings, which are not available in stores or can only be bought in the shops. are rarely available. In addition, there are various individual antiques – even if pure antique markets have developed for this purpose. However, at antique markets, the goods are often offered by specialized dealers, visitors usually have to pay an entrance fee and there is mainly a corresponding professional audience.

Sellers can sell at the flea market things that are no longer needed by them. Children can trade and haggle and learn how to deal with money and the value of their own possessions.

The special characteristics of a flea market are – from the visitor’s point of view – the private character of the trade (sale by private persons, often the price can be haggled over), the not constantly existing offer of goods (many flea markets take place for example only once a year) as well as the hope of the visitors to be able to acquire unusual or favorable things. These connotations are often used by the owners of regular stores, who call special sales "flea markets" in order to increase their attractiveness.

The social meaning

In addition to their commercial purpose, flea markets, like other markets, serve social needs. This is how entertainment or even political conversations take place at flea markets. Visitors have the opportunity to simply stroll through the market and chat with other visitors or sellers. Once often common practice in the corner store, chit-chat has now disappeared from most stores – especially supermarkets and metropolitan shopping centers. Small talk and everyday conversation is possible at flea markets and other markets, however. In many rural areas of Austria there is often an additional culinary offer, especially at flea markets, the proceeds of which benefit social or charitable institutions, which resembles that of a cafe or a snack stand and where appropriate social activity takes place. Also, there are often conversations between sellers or with customers, which identify them as experts in certain fields. In this way, mutual understanding can develop among each other and – especially in cases of unusual interests – a feeling of belonging to a special small group, which then also gives the flea market the character of a subcultural place.

Visiting a flea market is usually for one’s own pleasure and, unlike other shopping, does not have the character of everyday necessity. It therefore usually takes place without time pressure.


Internet auction platforms such as eBay have increased the supply and opportunities for selling used goods in recent years. Such Internet auction sites accommodate the traditional flea market idea in that the offerings there allow for aimless browsing and purposeful searching for specialties and collectibles like at a flea market. However, when trading over the Internet, the flair of a market – the direct examination of the goods as well as communication with the merchant and with like-minded people – is lost.

In addition to selling used items at flea markets, other alternatives for getting rid of them include giving them to acquaintances, donating them (in Germany without a donation receipt) to a charitable institution and taking them to a recycling center, where the goods are either destroyed, downcycled or resold.

Flea markets in the United States

In the U.S., the largest flea markets are in Pasadena, California (Rose Bowl Flea Market) and in Pinellas Park, Florida (Wagon Wheel Flea Market). The largest yard sale in the New York metropolitan area is the Brooklyn Flea in Brooklyn.

More common than flea markets in the USA are Yard Sales (also: Garage Sales, Rummage Sales or similar), in which private individuals offer their no longer needed items at a sales stand that is set up for this purpose on their own property (usually in the garage, on the garage driveway, in the carport or in the front yard). Unlike in Germany, private individuals in the USA can hold a yard sale without having to register with the authorities. Only in some cities (z. B. Beverly Hills, Gettysburg) a permit is required for a fee. Typical items sold at yard sales include children’s toys, board games, books, clothing and household items. Haggling is widespread; many sellers do not even mark their goods with a price tag. Yard Sales are also in high demand by buyers. They usually take place on Saturday mornings and are announced by the respective vendor either by advertisement in the local newspaper or by homemade signs posted in the neighborhood.

Often, entire neighborhoods coordinate to attract a particularly large number of customers with a collective yard sale. Considered the "longest yard sale in the world", the Highway 127 Corridor Sale along the U.S.-Highways 127, in which thousands of households participate every year at the beginning of August.

Yard sales are now an important part of popular culture in the United States and are also depicted in many movies (z. B. Eight Days a Week, 1997; Toy Story 2, 1999; Yard Sale, 2004; The Longest Yard Sale, 2007).


  • Heidrun Th. Grigoleit, The 100 most beautiful flea markets in Europe, Battenberg 2006, ISBN 3-86646-007-4
  • Ingrid Hinterecker, Flea market stallholders flea market stallholders, Locker 2001, ISBN 3-85409-324-1
  • Gabriele Jock, Flea market guide. Tips& Tricks for collectors, treasure hunters and bargain hunters, Waldkirch 4. Edition 11/2009, ISBN 978-3-927455-37-5
  • Sebastian Munz, Flea market – markets, people, goods, 4. Edition, Roschen publishing house 09/2008, ISBN 978-3-940908-01-8
  • Sebastian Mint, The clever book of the flea market – What the professional knows everything, Knesebeck 03/2008, ISBN 3-89660-523-2


  Commons: Flea markets  – Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

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