Travel With the Junk Gypsies to Flea Markets

Hop on board the pink Suburban (a.k.a. Large Marge the Party Barge) with sisters Amie Sikes and Jolie Sikes- Smith, hosts of HGTV’s Junk Gypsies, as they dust off dressers and reimagine relics at the flea market.
By: Marcia Ricapito
Related To:

Photo By: Rob Howard

Photo By: Rob Howard

Photo By: Rob Howard

Photo By: Rob Howard

Photo By: Quentin Bacon

Photo By: Rob Howard

Best Flea Markets in America

Alameda Point Antiques Faire Alameda, CA,

Brimfield Antique Show Brimfield, MA,

Rose Bowl Flea Market Pasadena, CA,

Scott Antique Markets Atlanta & Columbus, OH,

Warrenton Antique Show Warrenton, TX,

Junk Gypsy Secret

The sisters bedazzle everything from Buddhas to lamps with their collections of costume jewelry. "It's a great way to look at those gorgeous old stones every day," says Amie.

Gypsies in Texas

Amie and Jolie have a love affair with shadow boxes. The sisters like using them for hard-to-frame finds such as old license plates and toddler shoes. "Combine a few items from a special event and you’ve created a memory in a box," says Jolie.

Dealing With Dealers

How to get what you want and not get taken:

- Got cash? You may get a slight discount if you use it. But remember to hit the ATM before you go to the flea market — cash machines can be scarce and charge high fees. Carry a credit card, too (many vendors accept them) and your checkbook. You’d be surprised how many dealers will take out-of-state checks.

- No over-haggling. "Just ask, 'Is that your best price?'" says Amie. Continually offering less is disrespectful.

- Buy it when you see it. A dealer may be willing to hold something for a short time, so it doesn’t hurt to ask. But if you really love a piece, grab it. Jolie lost out on a set of cowhide-covered barstools that she thought about for a little too long.

- Don’t be limited by what will fit in your carry-on. At the Warrenton show in Texas, where the Junk Gypsies have a popular stall, shipping companies will pick up your purchases for you, pack them, and deliver them right to your doorstep. "They are very reliable," says Amie. But don’t commit until you ask the price, which can be pretty steep.

Removing the Stink

"Good ol' sunshine is the best fix for removing funky smells from furniture, suitcases, and trunks," Amie says. If that hasn't done the job after a few days, fill a spray bottle with warm water and a few drops of either bleach (test it on an unobtrusive spot to make sure it won’t ruin the finish) or lemon juice; spray and wipe. The only smell that's almost impossible to get out, say the Gypsies, is a strong smoke odor.

Spotting a Keeper

Amie and Jolie are masters at bringing furniture back to life. But if you weren't born with that Gypsy gene, how do you suss out what's worth saving? "Look for pieces with an interesting architectural detail, something funky and unpredictable, like a beautiful carving or curved legs," says Jolie. Solid wood is always a smart choice. (Particleboard isn't worth the effort.) Leave it behind if it needs major work. "Generally, if it's not a repair you can easily do yourself, it's not worth buying."

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