Which roadside flea markets are most worth a stop? We asked professional bargain hunters where they forage — and what they find there.
383 E. Main St., Searsport. 207-323-6275.
The space: This small flea market pops up downtown on Saturdays and Sundays from the first weekend of May through mid-October. Even at peak summer, there are only 30 or so dealers, but it’s worth a stop, as the selection at the tented tables is nicely varied: 1950s postcards, antique cameras, gently used marine gear. Debbie Chatfield, an interior designer and owner of Chatfield Design in Rockport, once nabbed “a perfectly intact” vintage McGuire chair here. “I got it for $100,” she says. “It was worth at least $600, so I was thrilled!”
Recent score: A red porcelain lobster claw salt/pepper shaker with white “braided trim” detail, perfect for clambakes. Who needs a matching claw? “I just use it by itself,” Chatfield admits.
Pro tip: If you find something you love that’s over your budget, Chatfield says dealers tend to be game to negotiate. The outdoor market is only open weekends, but the adjacent Hobby Horse Market-place is open six days a week, so you can get a flea market fix even if the weather doesn’t cooperate.
6 Hunnewell Ln., Woolwich. 207-443-2809.
The space: Norma Hunnewell Scopino opened Montsweag on Mother’s Day more than 40 years ago in a field that had been part of her family’s farm. Now run by her daughter, Gena Kilkenny, the market still opens around Mother’s Day with more than 100 tables. Emily Davis, a vintage clothing dealer who also pitches in at her family’s Nobleboro Antique Exchange, says she makes a 20-minute spin around the market at least once a week, starting at the perimeter and working her way to the center — a sort of retail mandala. She’s left with everything from painted wooden buoys — used to mark lobstermen’s traps before foam buoys were introduced in the ’70s — to a trio of wood-and-metal block and tackle pulleys. “One thing I love is that there’s no digging,” she says. “Montsweag’s dealers take time to lay things out nicely, which makes it easy to quickly find what you like.”
Recent score: A vintage anchor picked from a seventh-generation farm in Woolwich. “One of their family members had once served in the Coast Guard,” Davis says. She plans to remove the rust, spray paint it black, and then hang it on the wall as art.
Pro tip: Don’t overlook the shed-like buildings in back. “Some dealers rent them for the season and store their best items there,” Davis says, since it means less packing and unpacking. For a primo home goods selection, hit the market on Wednesday, when only antiques are sold.
1697 Portland Rd., Arundel. 207-985-7965.
The space: As many as 200 tables arranged in neat rows under flowering trees that provide plenty of shade. Melissa Freeman, an interior designer at Kennebunk’s Hurlbutt Designs, once snagged an original 1955 print by French cubist Georges Braque here, as well as antique china from storied Dutch porcelain purveyor Royal Delft and blue-and-white transferware in sought-after patterns. “Many goods are from estate clean-outs, so they have never been appraised or even seen by the public for generations,” she says.
Recent score: An original seascape oil painting by the Provincetown artist Joseph Glotzer, which now hangs above Freeman’s mantel.
Pro tip: Although the market is open (weather permitting) year-round, you’ll find the largest selection in summer, when some dealers set up by flashlight as early as 4 a.m. Consequently, early birds catch the best deals. “Things tend to be pretty picked over by noon here,” Freeman says.