America's best flea markets

Story highlights

  • Antique treasure-hunting draws shoppers from around the world to American flea markets
  • Traders and merchants have been swapping goods in Canton, Texas, since 1850
  • Springfield Antique Show & Flea Market in Ohio draws more than 20,000 shoppers
Shoppers from as far as Japan descend on Springfield, Ohio, for its twice-yearly market of 19th-century antiques. But the event isn't stuck in the past. In 2012, it introduced live music, beer and wine stands, and trend-driven clothing and housewares.
The effort is paying off in Springfield, where the May 2012 market drew a record-breaking weekend crowd of 21,000 shoppers, and flea markets across America are seeing a similar surge of interest.
Some credit goes to the popularity of reality TV series like Oddities, American Pickers, and Market Warriors, which have picked up the Roadshow mantle and are mining the world of secondhand buying, selling, and collecting.
As a result, a whole new group of travelers is discovering that braving the crowds at America's liveliest flea markets delivers more than just deals; it's a chance to get immersed in a local community, to be an archaeologist of the present.
Who needs potshards when you can pick up a piece of North Carolina Pisgah Forest Pottery circa 1940—just a few hours' drive from where it was made?
Fortunately, secondhand markets have never been more varied—or more vibrant. A new wave of urban fleas has taken off in Seattle, Chicago, Brooklyn, and beyond, bringing together old-fashioned junk-shoppers and a slew of budding entrepreneurs, artists, and che