If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of waking up at dawn to go flea market shopping, but still can’t resist the call for thrifting & haggling, shopping online offers a pretty smart alternative to going out in the real world.
Sure, you won’t get the same exciting feeling you experience when rummaging through old boxes at the flea market. But many apps out there have the advantage of offering nice curated collections à la Pinterest of beautiful vintage and second-hand merchandises. While flea markets are mostly about finding random things on a budget you did not know you needed, flea market apps are generally about getting inspired and finding exactly what you’re looking for in your neighborhood.
Alternatively, these same apps can turn any person into a flea market merchant for a day, for a fraction of the price and efforts needed “in real life”. Forget the hassle of loading and unloading your car with flea market stuff, driving at dawn in the cold and standing long hours at the flea market: these apps let you do exactly the same thing, from the comfort of your couch.
The process is pretty straightforward: Just take a picture of the item you sell, upload it with a description, put a price tag, and you’re good to go! And since most apps use “proximity shopping technology”, you don’t even have to worry about shipping as your customers might live within a few miles radius.
So, if you are based in the US and you enjoy window-shopping from the comfort of your couch, searching for vintage accessories as a gift for your best friend, or finding new (innovative) ways to de-clutter your flat, then these apps are just made for you.
Ruby Lane: Vintage begins here
Ruby Lane is a web-app to find high-end vintage and antiques online. It does not require a download, as it is a fully mobile-optimised online platform that you can access on any smartphone‘s browser.
Ruby Lane allows you to easily search for specific keywords or to browse by category and elaborate filter options allow to narrow down your search. If you visit Ruby Lane frequently, you will find it useful to be able to easily browse “Today’s arrivals” or “This week’s arrivals” with one single click.
If you would like to curate a list of favorite items or decide to buy one of the vintage products or antiques on Ruby Lane then you will need to create an account and log in, which is a very quick and straightforward process.
Although Ruby Lane has a global reach, most vendors are based in the United States. Browsing Ruby Lane on your phone is a good choice if you are looking for high-end vintage or antiques. If you are trying to sell your own vintage finds or second-hand items, then you might give other apps in this list a shot, unless you are a professional antiques dealer yourself.
Compatibility: all smartphones (browser-based) Size: no download required Languages: English
5 Miles: Buy and sell locally
5 Miles is a really cool and useful flea market app for those who want to buy and sell locally. It allows you to filter and choose items which are in your neighbourhood and decide if the item you’re looking for is somewhere between 5 and 50 miles away. A great alternative to attending swap meets or garage sales. This app also has a ‘No Limit’ option, in terms of distance if you don’t mind traveling more than 50 miles to pick up your purchase.
5 Miles has a very user-friendly sorting functionality: one simply highlights the ‘most relevant’, ‘most recent’, ‘closest’, ‘lowest or highest price’ to have their items sorted accordingly. But that’s not all: 5 Miles also sports 4 main categories: For Sale, Service, Housing and Jobs, which makes it quite broad.
Besides trading in items on 5 Miles, you can also hire local services in your area or find a new job. 5 Miles uses your location and zip code to make suggestions that perfectly suit your search. You can write and read reviews for transactions, buyers and sellers, which helps you improve the process and offer good insights to other community members.
Last but not least, 5 Miles is free to use and doesn’t have any fees on listings or transactions.
Close 5 is also an ‘easy and fun way to buy and sell locally’ as it brings together buyers and sellers within a five-mile radius. It allows you to list your items in just a few seconds, with a few photos snapped with your phone, a short and convincing description and a good price that you’re ready to negotiate.
With Close 5 you can find local deals on items including electronics, furniture, fashionable clothing, accessories, baby items and more. Users have the ability to conduct a search within 1 to 5 miles from their home, or extend their search radius to 50 miles to scope out items in new areas.
You can sign up for Close 5 via Facebook which adds another way to verify the community members.
Compatibility: iOS and Android Size: 25.9 MB Language: English
Listia: Trade With Credits, Not Cash
Like the other apps of this list, Listia is a great app for finding and “selling” pre-owned objects. Except that with this app, you actually don’t have to pay real money to get the things you want!
Users registered on Listia earn credits every time they give stuff away to reuse, and then they can use those credits to get free stuff they really want from other users. The more you give away, the more free things you can get.
With over 100 million items traded so far for free, Listia is nowadays one of the most interesting new flea market trading apps in the USA.
The main categories in which you can list and search items on Listia are Jewelry, Electronics, Clothing, Gadgets, Books, Toys, Gift Cards, Games and Coins. Listia lets you bid on objects and notifies you if another user has outbid your offer, so that you can stay in the game if you’re really interested in an item.
All in all, Listia is an app which helps you declutter, earn credits on each of your transactions and purchase other items based on the previously earned credits.
Compatibility: iOS and Android Size: 6.2M Language: English
Varage Sale: Your Online Garage
There is nothing quite like a garage sale: the mingling people, good offers and the friendly spirit. But how to get the same kind of spirit, when shopping online?
Varage Sale brings together the best of the brick-and-mortar world with the online world, making it both safe and fun for sellers and buyers to trade and exchange items. When registering a new account on Varage Sale, users connect their Facebook profiles. This allow them to see each other’s real names before closing a deal.
A constantly updated feed of items on offers, as well as categories makes it easy to find what you’re looking for. If you are happy with a particular transaction, you can leave a review about the person you’ve made a deal with, and add them to your favourite sellers list, therefore creating your own virtual community.
The Varage Sale website is quite helpful per se. But the mobility of the app makes it even better and faster to secure a sale. In the app itself you can exchange private messages directly with sellers and buyers, confirm or decline the transaction and agree on the price and pick-up location.
Compatibility: iOS and Android Size: 51.1 MB Language: English
Carousell: Second-Hand Trading With A Strong Communal Feeling
Carousell is a completely free to use flea market app for trading second-hand items. The app’s interface features a wide variety of categories such as fashion, clothes, accessories, beauty products, furniture, art, books, branded goods, cars, bikes, and antiques, making it a breeze to search and find what you’re looking for.
Within the app you can create as well as integrate different groups like neighborhood groups or school groups. The user-friendly interface helps you create beautiful listings in as much as 30 seconds, and buyers can find your offers quickly with the integrated keyword system.Way to go to get your basement decluttered!
But the really outstanding feature offered by Carousell, is that it makes it very easy for buyers and sellers to communicate. With Carousell Groups, you can buy and sell within interest groups, neighborhood groups, school groups, thereby putting a true community aspect to selling and buying.
Social media integration takes this further, making it possible to share listings on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with your friends and family. This also helps create a feedback track and trust in the Carousel community, where you can earn badges to show your reliability as a trader.
All in all, the community features and the catalogue inspired interface of the Carousell app make for a safe and easy option to trade a wide variety of second-hand objects, from bags, over make-up and shoes, up to even automobiles.
Compatibility: iOS and Android Size: 30 MB Language: English, Indonesian, Malay, Traditional Chinese
How about you? Have you already used one of the flea market apps listed in this review? How was your experience, and how does it compare to eBay or alternative online shops? We’d love to hear about your experience in the comment section!