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Flea market deals


Anyone who has ever won a hotly contested online auction for an orange vintage piece of Pyrex or hit a flea market early to ferret out Victorian earrings knows the thrill of the old-stuff hunt.

It’s the charge that powers PBS’ “Market Warriors” (Mondays, 10:30 p.m.), in which four antiques pros, including newcomer and auctioneer Bene Raia, trawl flea markets across the country trying to score the best deals. Raia recently answered some questions about the art of the hunt:

Q. On the show, you usually talk dealers into cutting their prices. How can I do that?

A. Be prepared to walk away. And start out just by acknowledging a dealer, smiling and asking questions. Find out why he or she is pricing something a certain way. They want you to be happy with what you buy.

Q. What’s a common mistake people make when antiquing?

A. If you’re at a live auction, don’t get emotionally involved and bid up an item at any cost. People will bid it up on purpose to teach you a lesson. Also, don’t tell a dealer at a flea market booth to hold something for you and then forget to come back. That’s just rude.

Q. Any tips on living with older stuff and not wrecking it?

A. Well, I live with my antiques, and my 4-year-old twins know that they’re precious and that they should be careful. But never have out things that can’t be replaced or just dusted off. You want everyone to feel comfortable in your house.

Q. It’s popular now to rehab older furniture. Is it OK to paint antiques?

A. If the furniture is mass-produced, it’s fine to repaint it, particularly if it’s from the 1930s or 1940s. Do what you want to enhance your life and your possessions.

– Jennifer Barger, Washington Post