If you’re in need of an inventive date idea to try out with your next Bumble match, look no further than a flea market. But what is a flea market, we hear you cry? And why is a flea market called a flea market, we hear you ponder? Hold your horses, because not only will we answer all your burning questions, but we’ve also got some top tips on how to pull off the ultimate flea market date. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or total newbie, we have plenty of flea market ideas for everyone.
First, why is a flea market called a flea market?
Before we get into the dating side of things, allow us to take you through a brief history lesson. While there isn’t a straightforward answer to this question, there are a few potential explanations (we’ll give you an abridged version because, well, we have more important things to discuss). Some believe the term flea market originates from the outdoor bazaars of Paris, many of which have been around for hundreds of years (1). According to the association that runs one of the markets today, the term first sprang up in the 1880s when an unknown bargain hunter looked upon the piles of brick-a-brack and old furniture and dubbed it “le marché aux puces” or “the market of fleas,” (2) because the items on offer were previously owned and worn and, yes, likely riddled with fleas. Yikes.
Others believe the name stems from the Fly Market, an outdoor market by the East River in downtown New York City that ran from 1699 to the early 1800s (3). Fly, flea…you get the idea. You’re welcome to research the origins of the term further, but in today’s world, a flea market is usually an outdoor street market where vendors sell a variety of second-hand goods (minus the fleas).
Is a flea market date a good idea?
We certainly think so. When you’re getting to know somebody, it’s fun to try out new things together. Browsing an outdoor flea market is a great way to spend a relaxed Sunday afternoon, sipping coffees and picking up some vintage bargains. You might spot something that you know your date will love—maybe they’ve been looking for the perfect armchair for their apartment, or a worn-in denim jacket. Helping them search for those much coveted items can be a great bonding experience for you both.
Even if you’re not looking to purchase anything, casually browsing a flea market together can bring up plenty of talking points. Strange ceramics, bizarre ornaments, and retro household items can act as wonderful conversation starters, and offer some good laughs, naturally deepening your relationship. “Remember when we saw that crazy cat clock at the flea market?” you could be saying to your date in 10 years time. Think of it as a sightseeing exercise, if anything else.
OK, so how do I arrange a flea market date then?
First things first, you need to find a flea market—and a good one at that. Do some research and see what’s going on in your local area. Alternatively, if you find some recommendations for a really good one that’s a bit further out, it might be worth making it into a day trip.
If you or your date are looking for some specific items, make sure to focus your research around this—there’s no point venturing to a flea market which is renowned for 1960s animal figurines when you’re looking for a mid-century side table. If you’re keeping it local, ask around. Get tips from people in your neighbourhood—sometimes word of mouth is more reliable than online reviews.
Another extremely important factor when hitting up an outdoor flea market is the weather. If it’s forecasted to rain, not only will it be an unpleasant battle against the elements, but it’s likely the flea market will be canceled. It’s hard to sell stuff on the street when the street is soaking wet, after all. If you’re determined to have the ultimate flea market date despite the weather, it might be worth checking out indoor market options. These have become super popular in recent years, with most events selling tickets for a small fee in advance. It’s generally the same flea market experience, just under one roof and protected from potential storms.
If you’re struggling to find any good flea markets near you, you can have a similar date experience by heading to a few thrift stores. Map out a route of your favorite ones in your local area and get ready to try to find some gems, with your date on hand to help, of course. There’s something so satisfying about buying things second-hand as opposed to new—not only are you doing good for the planet, but you’re saving money! Wins all round, if you ask us.
When it comes to a flea market date, don’t just take our word for it…
We understand if you’re new to flea markets you may need a bit of convincing as to why they make for a great date. We spoke to our global community to get their tried and tested advice. Jess, 27, took her now boyfriend on a flea market date when they were in the early stages of their relationship. “Neither of us had any plans one weekend, and there’s a flea market around the corner from me that I check out regularly,” she says. “I’m always looking for fun homeware items, and I thought it might be a good thing to do together. Because the market was close to my place, it was a great excuse for him to help me carry my finds back and continue our afternoon together!”
Katy, 24, took it one step further with her Bumble date. “I had cleared out a whole load of stuff from my apartment that I knew I wanted to sell at my local flea market,” she says. “I get a bit tired of selling things online—having to take photos, message with sellers, ship the items out—so I thought taking it all to the market would be a quick and easy way to get rid of stuff.” She had already been on a couple of successful dates with her match, so she asked him to help her sell things at the flea. “I just thought, why not? I wanted to spend time with him, and needed an extra pair of hands. He agreed to help me and we had a great day, working together but also chatting and getting to know one another more. I suppose it was quite an unusual date, but I got to see a really different side to him, which I liked.”
Mark, 38, had never been to a flea market before he matched with someone new. “She asked me to meet her at a flea market on Sunday. I had to look up what a flea market was,” he says with a laugh. “I didn’t know what to expect! But once I figured out what I was heading into, I was excited. We just walked around the streets looking at what everyone was selling. Neither of us bought anything, but we were there for hours, discovering all the different stalls. It just felt nice to do something outside of sitting at a table, with regular drinks and food.”
Take it from Mark—and us: a flea market date can be a great way to spend time with someone in a relaxed way. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never been to one before; the backdrop of an outdoor market provides plenty of things to talk about with your Bumble match. Just one final tip: If you buy something, make sure to clean it once you bring it home!
(1) Matt Soniak (2012/2023) Mental Floss. Available at: https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/31795/why-are-flea-markets-called (Accessed 16 June 2023)
(2) Cow Town Farmers Market (2021) Cow Town Farmers Market. Available at: https://www.cowtownfarmersmarket.com/a-brief-guide-to-the-history-of-flea-markets/ (Accessed 16 June 2023)
(3) Daniel Ganninger (2022) Knowledge Stew. Available at: https://knowledgestew.com/why-are-they-called-flea-markets/ (Accessed 16 June 2023)