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A Brief Guide to the History of Flea Markets

Flea markets have become a very popular place to shop for one-of-a-kind items. They can be found all over the US, from major cities to small and rural towns. Every market features their own unique atmosphere, creating a special experience for the thousands of people that visit each year. Whether you’re a veteran collector or a newcomer to the scene, it’s always fun and interesting to learn more about the origin of the flea market. Not only is it cool to learn something new, but understanding its history can also help you get the most out of your next visit.

The History of Flea Markets and its Modern Impact 

Though the history of flea markets is difficult to pinpoint, the term “Flea Market”, may come from the French moniker, “marché aux puces”, a title that was given to a Parisian market that specialized in selling second-hand goods – which may or may not have contained actual fleas. The earliest recorded use of the English term was in 1922. Read on for a brief insight into the history of flea markets and to learn more fun facts: 

  • The Meaning of Flea Market: In its earliest form, a flea market was essentially a place where merchants could sell second-hand goods. Traditional flea markets are often set up along the streets, making them a more seasonal concept. To fill in the gaps and meet the demand, many brick-and-mortar locations have since popped up around the country and operate year-round. 
  • The First Flea Market in America: While the exact location remains unknown, the first American flea market is believed to have opened around 1873, somewhere in the state of Texas. Since then, the concept of the flea market has gained popularity – so much so, that it is estimated there are over 5,000 flea markets operating in the US today. These venues go on to serve millions of buyers and sellers each and every year. 
  • Other Names for Flea Markets: Depending on the type and location, flea markets can be called by different names. For instance, a “swap meet” is a general term that encompasses venues for bartering and trading various goods, whereas words like “antique market” or “vintage market” are typically reserved for venues that sell higher-end or collectable merchandise. In smaller neighborhoods, flea markets are also known as garage or yard sales. 

Find Great Deals on One-Of-A-Kind Goods at Cowtown Farmers Market

Thanks to its extensive history, flea markets have become an iconic American tradition. Despite its somewhat mysterious origins, there is no doubt that today, flea markets are loved and visited by millions of people year after year. Not only are flea markets beneficial for shoppers looking to score great deals on memorable items, but they also provide a great opportunity for sellers to start or continue their own businesses. 

At Cowtown Farmers Market, we showcase over 400 vendors in our indoor and outdoor facilities, twice weekly, all year round. Whether you live in South Jersey or are just visiting, stop by our flea market to discover special and affordable finds for sale. We operate every Tuesday and Saturday from 8am-4pm, rain or shine, to ensure we meet all your flea market shopping needs.     

Stop by for a visit or if you would like to set up a stall, check out our vendor requirements section. For any questions about our NJ flea market, please contact us online and we will get back to you shortly.

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