If you hadn’t guessed already I am a bit of a fiend for anything vintage, antique or retro and one of my favourite places to go hunting for items is Sunbury Antiques market, at Kempton Park (also known as Kempton antiques market). In fact I think nearly all the seating in our house has come from there, including our gorgeous green velvet sofa plus lots of little knick-knacks and artwork that are dotted around our house. So this post is long overdue!
The market is mainly aimed at traders, so advertising is a bit thin on the ground, but it does have a useful website (here) and the general public are more than welcome. However it can still be a bit daunting, so I thought I would summarise my top tips, which will hopefully be everything you need to have a fruitful trip.
01. Get There Early
For something that starts at 6.30am, getting there even earlier seems a bit ludicrous, but it is essential. It takes about 45 minutes to get there from our house but I always leave at 5.30am, this way I have a bit of a buffer and time to get a warm cup of coffee, before it all kicks off.
The traders aren’t allowed to start setting up until 6.30am, so there will be lots of people standing around – this is a great time to have a walk around and familiarise yourself with the layout, as once it kicks off at 6.30am items sell quickly, very quickly! In fact most of the traders reckon they sell more in the first half an hour, than they do in the 3 to 4 hours that follow combined.
Don’t be shy to move in, if you see something you like coming out of a van, go over straight away as it might not stick around. At this time the traders might seem a little abrupt and won’t be up for chit-chat, as they are in a rush to get their vans unloaded, so be prepared to make a quick decision. This might sound a little hectic, but it is all quite calm and organised.
02. Don’t Use the Main Entrance
Now this probably seems like a silly piece of advice, but to have a walk around and get your cup of coffee before you have to use the entrance at ‘Gate 6’ rather than the main entrance. I can’t tell you why it is, but the gate at the main entrance stays locked shut until 6.30am, where as ‘Gate 6’ ironically doesn’t have a gate!
If you are using a Sat Nav the postcode TW16 5AX should take you close enough to see the gate, which will be signposted for the market. Then just follow the long drive towards the grandstand and a warden will direct you to a parking spot. Don’t worry if you are quite far away, as you can always move closer when you are ready to load the car.
03. Take Cash
Cash is very much King, in fact it is the only option. None of the traders take debit or credit cards and whilst there is a cash machine on site, there is likely to be a queue and I am pretty sure it charges for withdrawals. As soon as you agree on a price the traders will expect you to pay for the item, usually in full. Taking a set amount is also a really good way to stop yourself buying everything in sight – once you run out of cash you are done!
04. Always Ask for the Best Price
A few items will be marked with prices, however the majority won’t be, so you will have to ask the price, I like to use the phrase ‘what’s your best price on this’ if you don’t like the answer feel free to go back with an offer. The worse they will do is say ‘no’ and then you can always pay what they asked in the first place!
In the first half an hour traders are not likely to waver very much on the price they ask, but as the morning goes on, there will be a bit more movement. I have on a few occasions offered a price at 6.45am, been met with a flat no, only to go back around 9am to be told if I still want it I can have it at the price I offered.
Another good tip is to have a good look around the rest of the stall before you make an offer, as traders are likely to do you a better deal if you are purchasing a few items.
05. Go Back to Collect Your Items
Once you have agreed a price and paid for the items, don’t be afraid to ask the traders to hold onto the item for you, as you don’t want to be carrying heavy bits around with you or making trips back to the car and wasting precious time. Make sure you make a note of the items and where you have purchased them from, as the last thing you want to do is forget to go back for it at the end of the morning.
06. Take a BIG Vehicle
The first time I went I ended up having to try and get two lounge chairs, a tea trolley, two large pictures and a box of jars into a Mini! I am still amazed I managed it and it is not something I would recommend, a normal hatchback or an estate car is sufficient for most purchases, however if you are going with the idea of buying lots then I would recommend hiring a van – it will be much cheaper than paying a courier to deliver your items.
If you do end up finding a large item that you just have to have but it won’t fit in your car, then tell the trader you like it but don’t know how you will get it home – lots of them travel quite far and if you are on their route home they may offer to deliver the item at a reasonable cost. If that doesn’t work there is always a courier company in the back corner of the market that will deliver for a less reasonable cost.
07. Check the Dates
Most people will tell you the fair is every other Tuesday, however it is actually the second and last Tuesday of every month, so occasionally there is actually three weeks between them. So I always double-check the dates, as the last thing you want to do is get up at 5am for no reason!
Hopefully you have found these tips helpful and if you are interested to see what I bought, that will be up on the blog soon, so check back.