Shopping Smart in Open Air Markets

Posted by Jill Chivers in Shopping Strategies

It’s summer here in Australia and open air markets abound!  I’m lucky that where I live, there are lots of open air markets from the Saturday farmers market through to the local artisan markets.

In summer, we get additional markets, often evening or twilight markets. They are a lovely way to be out and about, and I enjoy going to one or another of our local markets once a month or so.  It is a completely different shopping environment to a mall, and more often than not, I am going for the experience than I am for the shopping.  My husband and I enjoy having breakfast out and choosing a street eat stall to sample, and sitting and listening to a local musician or group entertain us for free.  It’s a delightful way to while away a weekend morning.

Local markets often offer great street eats and local music, locally grown produce and other delicious treats (our local Eumundi markets have a fudge maker whose creations curl your toes they are so divine!).

Weekend street market, Ritten House Square Philadelphia

Weekend street market, Ritten House Square Philadelphia

But they can also be shopping traps.  Beyond organic pumpkins and toe curlingly delicious fudge, you can find yourself buying stuff that looks absolutely gorgeous in the stall – it’s a work of art, or perhaps something so unique that you feel you won’t find anything like it anywhere else, let alone back home in the mall – but that you simply never end up wearing.

I have fallen into this trap myself on too many occasions, and now have a set of strategies I use to make sure I never end up with a gorgeous piece of unwearable (at least for me) art.

Here’s my top 3 tips for smart shopping in open air markets:

  1. Set your intention before you go – is this an expedition that allows for purchasing, if you happen to see something divine that also meets your shopping criteria?  Or is this a ‘experience’ expedition where you are there to enjoy all you see, smell, taste, feel and hear – but no buying?  (employ the Art Gallery method if the answer to this question is Yes).
  2. Set a shopping criteria for items you see that you are considering buying, beyond “I love it!”  Consider the Where Will I Wear It questions plus a few more helpful questions to sort the wheat from the chaff:
      • Where will I wear this?  When will I wear this – what occasions?
      • How many of those occasions are there where I would wear this?  Is it many more than today/once?
      • What items do I already have for those occasions?  Am I wearing those items fully?
      • Does this item suit my life and my lifestyle?
      • Does this item suit me, my personality?  Or is this really for someone else?
      • Have I decided if today is an expedition that allows for purchasing, or is this an ‘experience only’ market expedition?
  3. Wear your favourite accessory pieces to the market.  This is one of my most effective strategies to avoid buying more jewellery and other accessories (oh, the hats I’ve bought at markets! Never to be worn again!).  If I am already wearing a knockout necklace, a beautiful bracelet, enchanting earrings and/or a handsome hat, I am far less likely to buy one (or two or three) more of these same category of items at the markets.  This simple yet remarkably potent strategy has saved me a lot of money, and a lot of frustration.  I don’t bring home essentially duplicate items because I forgot I had them at home, and I don’t end up with drawers full of stuff I don’t wear despite looking lovingly at them and wondering why I don’t get enough wear out of it.


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