Visiting the Midwest’s Largest Flea Market in Shipshewana, Indiana can be a little overwhelming at first. With hundreds of booths to shop and so much to see, do and eat, we’d thought we would reach out to our frequent visitors and ask, “What are your best tips & tricks to navigating or shopping the flea market?” Here are the top five.
1. Plan your route
It’s smartest, especially on busier extended holiday markets, to plan out your shopping day and your entrance and exit strategies. If you’re driving in from the South, it’s a lot easier to enter the flea market from Farver St (200 N). Also be sure to pick up a flea market vendor directory guide from the entrances. Inside is a map of the booth spaces and a listing of permanent vendors and their products and space numbers. To plan early, download the Shipshewana Trading Place mobile app to search and save vendors to your favorites.
- Print the map out before you go and mark the booths you definitely want to hit. – Hulah
- Use the entrance/exit on 200. It’s a lot easier to get in and out of town. – Mark
- If you see something you like, you may want to write down the booth number. When you walk through a gate, they have a stand so you can pick up a layout of the flea market. It helps to identify where you are and where you saw something at. – Brenda
- Walk down one side of the aisle and back up the other or you will miss a lot. – Carmella
- When the crowds are heavy, go to the center aisles and work your way outwards. – Joseph
- Have a meeting spot because it’s easy to wander and get separated. – Rhonda
- You can park at the plant aisle for 15 minutes to load, I do this aisle first for the best selection. Check out the auction on Wednesdays. – Jan
- We always save the produce and flower aisle til’ the end. If you buy early, you either carry them around with you or go put it in your hot car, making them not so nice. – Ashley
- I took pics of landmarks, buildings, row markers, etc to help find my car. – Patricia
2. Wear comfy shoes
The Shipshewana flea market is a huge, open-air outdoor flea market on about 100 acres. The walkways are gravel so it’s important to wear your walking shoes!
- Wear good walking shoes. – Deb
- Dress for the weather, and wear comfortable shoes! – Jan
- Go early, wear good shoes and plan to walk a lot. – Sharon
3. Arrive Early
Want to get the best parking spots? Get to the market early (right at 8:00 am or even before.) It’s also a bit cooler in the mornings, which is nice during the warmer summer months.
- Go early!!! – Linda
- Arrive early, especially in hot weather. – Deb
- Get there early to get a good parking space! – Gerry
4. Pack ahead of time
Be sure to bring a reusable bag or tote to carry your purchases. If you’re planning on purchasing produce or perishables, you may want to pack a cooler. On hot sunny days, be sure to bring a water bottle and sunscreen. The market does have food courts and water carts located throughout the entire market. You’ll also want to bring lots of cash…although some vendors do accept credit and debit cards. There are also several ATMs on site in case you need them.
- Bring water, drinks, and stay hydrated. – Deb
- Bring a cooler for your car! Bring lots of change. Bring a bag for purchases and sunscreen. – Susan
- Dress for the weather, keep some wet wipes in the car. – Jan
- Bring a back pack with 2 frozen water bottles wrapped in cuzies. It is usually hot and dry. – Barbara
5. Rest frequently
There are several benches, convered rest areas and food courts throughout the market. Take a break and regroup to plan which booths you want to visit next. While you’re resting, grab a delicious meal or snack…or perhaps an ice cream cone?
- Take a sit down break every so often. – Judy
- Have a chicken salad croissant in the auction barn. – Gerry
- Take an ice cream break. – Rhonda
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