Last weekend I drove North to Hollis, NH, to check out not one, not two, but THREE flea markets, all conveniently located on a section of Route 122. I'm not entirely sure why they don't just merge to become one giant flea market monopoly, but market politics aren't important – the key thing is that there's a lot of cheap stuff.
The slight downside is that you do have to pay for parking. There are lots (read: fields) that are maintained by the flea market which will run you about $2, but I found parking for $1 at a random person's house who turned their yard into parking for flea market attendees. My first score of the day!
From there I headed across the street to Shirley's Flea Market, which is right next to the Hollis Flea Market. Honestly, I'm not entirely sure where the dividing line is between the markets, so for convenience's sake, I'm going to treat these the same because there's not much difference in layout and selection. Tables are positioned somewhat haphazardly under pine trees without much of a discernible pattern to the vendor spots. I found it difficult to keep track of where I'd been with this set-up, but, in truth, I wasn't especially wowed by too much of the selection. I'd say the majority of the tables felt more like a yard sale, which can still yield good finds, but you have to wade through the selection of late 80s board games, Avon and paperback books first. I wasn't in the wading mood (I had a lunch date with my mom and sister to get to), but I did pick up some vintage fabric for $4 and a cute wire basket and metal pot for $12. My only piece of advice to the market owners would be to get rid of the cans nailed to trees marked "butts." Or maybe not put them at eye level . . . or maybe not have 100 of them . . .
Across the street is the Silver Lake Flea Market. This was a breath of fresh air in terms of layout (finally, rows!) and there were more antique and vintage sellers. There's even a row of indoor booths, which I imagine is handy on drizzly days. I just purchased a tiny pitcher for $1 that I'm going to use to hold toothpicks, but I saw lots of things that piqued my interest including vintage metal patio chairs, pretty glassware and an awesome round rug with a chicken (how I wish I had a place for it!).
I spent about 45 minutes checking out the various tables, but I was in speedy-mode so I think you could spend more time if you were in the mood to pick through. Most of the vendors seem more than willing to haggle so you could definitely get some good deals here. I recommend bringing a big tote bag to hold your finds, though I saw a couple of people with wagons. If you buy furniture, you have to haul it away yourself, so plan ahead in terms of transport and manpower.
Here is where to find the Hollis Flea Market, and its website (the only one with a website, I believe). The hours should be more or less the same for the two other markets.
Hollis Flea Market
436 Silver Lake Road
Hollis, NH 03049
Open Sundays at 6 a.m. until about 3 p.m.; April-early November
I recommend trying to get to the market in the morning – I arrived by 10 a.m. and it was definitely hopping, though thanks to the open layout, it doesn't feel overly crowded. There are several snack stands if you get hungry, and make sure to bring plenty of cash.