Day 1: Flea Market Flipping

Psssst… this post *might* contain affiliate links: see my disclosure here.

Behind the Scenes with Flea Market Flip

My bestie Jill and I were on HGTVs Flea Market Flip. (Episode 301: “Rocker Dudes vs. Designing Moms”). The premise of Flea Market Flip  is that two teams are given $500, three projects and an hour to shop; after a day transforming their purchases, the teams bring their items to a local flea market to sell. Whoever makes the most profit wins! (Did I mention we WON?!) In an attempt to COMPLETELY wring every last drop out of this experience, I wrote about our three filming days on the blog: shopping, the workshop and then our selling day.  It was the MOST fun so keep reading to get the scoop on what it’s like to film a hit TV show like Flea Market Flip!

See what it's like to be on the show flea market flip?

Shopping at Brimfield Antique Show

Let’s start at the beginning, though… shall we?! This was the first season that Flea Market Flip sent teams to the massively awesome Brimfield Antique Show in Brimfield, MA. This flea market goes on forever and only happens three weeks of the summer. I was a little nervous to be headed to unfamiliar turf, but also excited to see a flea market other than my usual one (Elephant’s Trunk in New Milford, CT).

Shop my favorites!

See what it's like to be on the show flea market flip?

Jill and I drove up the night before (with a requisite stop at Target en route), and spent the night about 30 minutes from Brimfield. An EARLY morning wake up call had us pulling into our HGTV home-base around 6:30 a.m. There were three episodes filming on our day so there were five other teams meandering around with similar wide-eyed looks. We immediately met our awesome producer, Demetrius. His job is to make us look less deer-in-the-headlights than we felt and he was immediately friendly and fun and casual. (And handsome… did I say that?!)

See what it's like to be on the show flea market flip?

Jill could win an award for her social skills so she immediately introduced herself to all of the other teams. I’m no slouch, but Jill’s like a different league. Our competition, Ryan and Dave were by far the most aloof so we were a little put off by their lack of team spirit, but we forced ourselves onto them and ultimately had a blast with their hipster too-cool-for-school demeanor. I hope that came across on the episode!

See what it's like to be on the show flea market flip?

The Flip List

Okay, back to behind the scenes stuff. We were immediately grabbed for our first round of interviews where we were given our ‘assignments’: Unexpected Seating, Funk-tional, and Repurposed Item. Next they took us for our “Hero Shots” as they call them…the beginning part of the show where we’re standing all ‘lets-get-our-flea-on-b*tches.’ We were nervous and cold and clueless, so I’m amazed that the editing room could find some semblance of usable footage. We were also staring directly into the rising sun for most of these shots so I was expecting my squinty eyes to make me look even more like a rookie. And it was freezing so were were nervous and trembly and wired.

See what it's like to be on the show flea market flip?

Ours was the last episode to shoot so we actually had the whole morning to kill. We were allowed to wander around but we could absolutely not engage with any of the vendors to put things aside, ask prices, etc. And as we quickly learned, this time to peruse did nothing more than elevate our pulse as each time we had an idea, ten minutes later our hypothetical item would be gone… but we still got to brainstorm which was helpful.

See what it's like to be on the show flea market flip?

Lara Spencer has a day job filming a little show called Good Morning, America that you might have heard of so she didn’t arrive until right after lunch. It meant we all had to jump into high gear when she showed up to get our intro interviews on film along with the footage where we we eagerly race away with a stack of cash in hand to take the flea market by storm.

See what it's like to be on the show flea market flip?

We were thrilled that some of the items we’d spotted were still available when it was our turn to actually film. There is definitely a sense of urgency as the one hour we are given is the real deal. Demetrius stopped us from time to time to film us coming or going from a booth and to ask questions about some of the items we had commented on.We quickly realized that we weren’t in the best position to negotiate given the posse following us with boom mics and a camera. That said, all three of our vendors were super nice and Jill quickly decided to use my unborn baby to our advantage. A pregnant girl’s gotta do what a pregnant girl’s gotta do.

See what it's like to be on the show flea market flip?

Our Purchased Items

We found this dilapidated old settee, these very cool mason jars (I mean… who doesn’t love a mason jar?!) and some old lockers that had been pulled out of a local high school. (We were hoping for a few issues of Tiger Beat or at least a headshot of Ralph Macchio.)

See what it's like to be on the show flea market flip?

See what it's like to be on the show flea market flip?

After our items were carried back to the crew’s home base, we met with the amazing carpenters/ worker elves to make sure the right supplies would be on hand in the workshop. Jill and I were feeling pretty good about our vision for things until we got back and started talking through the ideas with the art department. What seemed so clear and articulate when we had our flea market flop sweat going earlier in the day, all of a sudden felt a little more ambitious/ lofty. Eek!

See what it's like to be on the show flea market flip?

Regardless, Jill and I hopped into the car for the drive home hyped up on adrenaline, confident that our purchases were victory-worthy (at least they were crazy cheap), and SO excited for our workshop day just 4 days away.

See what it's like to be on the show flea market flip?

 Read more about our adventures on Day 2 and Day 3 (the finale).

pin this image to pinterest

behind the scenes on flea market flip

Don’t Miss Out

Become An Insider!

Signup for exclusive tips, and tricks from Charlotte’s House!

Let’s chat!

I love comments from you, so feel free to leave your thoughts and ideas below! And don’t forget to follow me on Instagram for even more!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. I saw it, and loved it!!! Can’t wait to read more about it 🙂 Lara Spenser is one of my first and favorite re-habbers and I adore her designs. I hope she was as cool and friendly in person as she seems. Congrats on your win!

    1. Thanks Eliesa!! Lara was SUPER nice with us… she’s one of the producers so very involved in lots of aspects of the show! 🙂

      1. I saw your episode and loved it. I only just discovered this show a few weeks ago and have already watched a few seasons. i have one question, i am often surprised at the high prices people are willing to pay for these items at a flea market. not that they aren’t great and of course one of a kind but still find it SURPRISING. Are these buyers part of the show or are they real people just shopping? I am certain they are aware you are on the show and that probably makes the pieces more appealing. Just curious.

        1. Hi! Isn’t it fun to watch?! I LOVE the show. The buyers are emphatically NOT part of the show. In fact, I’ve heard of teams who were disqualified because someone they knew bought their piece! I definitely think lots of the buyers are familiar with the show so you’re right… that may be part of it too!

    1. Ha!!! I was obsessed with the show so can hardly believe that I got to participate!!! And thanks for the sweet compliment! 🙂

  2. I saw the edition you were on, it was great! I love the program & watch it whenever it is on, even though it is all reruns right now, that I have seen many times. Still have to watch it.

    I have just 2 questions about the show, that maybe you can answer?
    1st….what happens to the stuff that doesn’t sell?
    2nd….are the buyers ‘plants’? I ask that because I have seen two older, blondish women on at least 3 eposodes, and they always buy something, usually larger furniture. This made me wonder if it was staged? Can you tell me?

    Thanks, dolli

    1. Hi Dolli! Thanks so much! Stuff that doesn’t sell is the property of HGTV… not sure what they do with it exactly! And the buyers are definitely NOT plants, but there’s no question that lots of folks have seen the show and are excited to come and chat. For our episode, the three folks who bought the items genuinely had a purpose for them all… there were a few ‘browsers’ who were clearly considering each item because they liked FMF, but again… DEFinitely not plants! It was all pretty much as you see on TV actually!

      1. I just watched the show and think very UNFAIR.

        1. Hello Charlotte
          Congratulations. My wife and I watch flee market flip all the time, but I was wondering, to get on the show did contact them or did you just happen to be in the right place at the right time where they looking for people to be on the show?

          Thank You

          1. Hi Richard! I responded to a casting call on Craigslist actually! You need to have a partner and be local to NYC. And then casting will weigh in to make sure they have the right combination and variety of teams!

  3. Hi Charlotte,

    So your episode of Flea Market Flip aired again this weekend (love that show) but my question is actually completely irrelevant to the flipping, though it was great. My question is actually about the absolutely adorable Mexican embroidered blouse you wore while shopping for your items during the flea market! I know its a long shot but may i ask where you got it?

    Its so adorable and i’ve been kind of obsessing over it 😛

    Thanks again and great blog!

    1. Hi Sarah! Thanks!!! I actually found that at a consignment store in Ojai, CA, but… I’ve found something similar on Amazon if you can believe it!! Search something like “Mexican embroidered blouse”. Good luck!!!

  4. Hi! Saw your episode and loved it. Love the show. I just have one question-I’m heading to Brimfield tomorrow and know it is huge-since you only have one hour do you by any chance remember which field or fields you guys shopped in? Looking to do some of my own flea market flips. Thank you!

    1. Hi Heather! Thanks! I LOVE that show too… keep begging them to bring me back! 🙂 I have NO idea what field we were in, but for our episode, they only let us walk around one small area. It was behind a red barn if I recall? I wish I could be more help!!

  5. I notice the host helps different team members ,giving them ideas an helping pick pieces so unfair,am I the only one who has notice this?

    1. Hi Cini! Lara’s “help” is pretty general. For us, she was actually much more help in the workroom helping us narrow down fabric. She’s really good at this stuff, so any insight is appreciated. Every episode I’ve watched, she’s always been pretty helpful for both teams, but I guess a lot depends on the projects and the teams!

      1. We have to make CERTAIN that whatever we pick can be done in a day. There are certainly the helpers in the workroom so I suppose if a team ever couldn’t finish… perhaps the helpers could finish up, but we were able to get through all of ours in the allotted time as were our opponents. Three projects and four people working for 6+ hours!

  6. Love Flea Market Flip!!! Just one suggestion – please don’t show in the beginning what the flippers pick out, it takes the fun out of seeing what creative pieces evolve.


  8. Greetings Charlotte!

    I was referred to your site via an ad on YOU TUBe for a number of DIY hacks made with dollar store items. Of particular interest was the gorgeous hanging chandelier with what looked like little blocks of individual glass pieces pieced together in 3 or 4 tiers forming a chandelier. Would you be able to send it to me via my email address?

    Many thanks for your splendid project and best wishes on your career!

    Maria Raysses-Whipple

  9. I hope that you are still Answe questions about “flea market flip. I Really wanted to know if you don’t spend all of the $500 shopping money, do you get to keep it?