Country antique shops, thrift stores and area flea markets are where it’s at if you are looking to load up without breaking the bank for your goods you need for tomorrow’s every-day living! All are just a step better than a good garage  or estate sale. Scouring for hidden treasures and exploring memorabilia of the past is so much fun, can reveal some hidden gems and bargaining for a good deal is always a favorite of mine at the flea market.

At each one, as I have put in the time, I have definitely some fantastic treasures that I can use right away in my preparedness pursuits.

Hidden among the old toys, eccentric furniture, brick-n-brack, and knick-knacks are some valuable items that can make a huge difference when you are looking to be ready for what is coming down the pike economically.

The following is my Laundry List for what I look for when I am in those stores and markets:

1. Tools: Old Or New

The flea market in particular is an excellent place to buy tools. There are often entire sections dedicated to selling tools. And these can be tools that you would use indoors or out.  Take your time and  scour these places for the older ones that have lasted for ages, and that you can still put to good use by purchasing the high-quality items that you will use.

2. Cooking Tools And Kitchen Wear

Be on the lookout for those cooking and kitchen items that can be used WITHOUT electricity; cooking will inevitably get a lot more complicated at every stage if that happens. From what you eat to how you cook it, there will be many barriers to overcome. Save the stress and ward off hunger by stocking up on versatile kitchen essentials.

Dutch Ovens, propane and butane stoves, hot plates, or even Bunsen burners can be purchased at a flea markets especially and will come in handy if you need to cook on the fly.

You can also find some great cookware at your local thrift stores, such as cast iron pots or pans that would be pricey if purchased brand new.

3. Glassware Containers

Since everything nowadays is coming in some form of plastic, there is a need for a larger supply of glass containers. Search for those items that can store, wet, and dry goods, powders or whole foods that can be sealed and stored for various times. Mason Jars of all sizes and shapes are a good type, but look for others that you can put a cork in and keep things safe and handy.

4. Storage Containers

As we are on this subject, like the containers mentioned above, the flea market and the thrift stores are a haven for various storage options. Beyond the glassware, the storage bins (easily portable) and those larger storage containers of other materials can doin a pinch as well. There will be something for everyone, from barrels and boxes to smaller, more compact containers.

5. Barrels & Buckets

Most of us have a single bucket in our homes. Unfortunately, in an emergency, this may not be enough. What’s worse, getting to the store to purchase one may not be possible.

Protect yourself by stocking up on buckets and barrels of various sizes now. Thankfully, this object has many uses and won’t just sit and collect dust until the inevitable occurs. For example, you can grow vegetables in buckets if you have limited gardening space.

6. Canning Gear & Preservation Supplies

When it comes to survival situations, having access to a reliable source of food is one of the most important factors. Having canning supplies such as jars, lids, and a pressure canner is crucial if you want to ensure your food stays edible for a prolonged period. And if you can find those items in smaller more portable sizes the better. You never know when you have to be on the move.

If you’re interested in learning more about canning and other long-term food preservation methods, this comprehensive guide can provide valuable insights and help you become better prepared for any potential survival scenarios.

7. Weapons, Ammo, & Other Self-Protection Items

Now, you may not find to many AR 15’s for sale at the local thrift shop or flea market (be on the up and up when it comes to your firearms) but there are those things that are ‘Weapons-Adjacent’ that can be found. Ammo carriers, containers, holsters, flak jackets, pouches, belts and the list can go on and on..

The flea market would be your best bet for these items that could come in handy.

8. Knives

The same will probably go for these items as well that the Thrift Store will avoid these types of things, but getting the right knife for the job that you need it for, whether it is making kindling, cutting and dressing game, or for self protection a good knife is a survivalist essential, and the flea market will offer plenty of choices. Just be careful of what you are buying to ensure it is a sturdy, well-made product that will last.

9. Hunting Gear

Items such as camouflage clothing or overalls can be found at these stores. These items are another staple of the flea markets in particular that you can find in mass quantities. Outfit yourself and those you love for the elements that you will come across in your region or area. Bermuda shorts in alpine locations are not the sort of things to get at this point.

Seek out products that are warm and waterproof. You want gear that will provide you with the protection you need from the elements.

10. Military Supplies & Surplus

Talking about outfitting yourself, I want to add military surplus stores to the mix, especially for this one. It is always interesting to explore and look for useful items for survival situations here. Thankfully, military surplus items can be found in almost every marketplace nationwide.

From backpacks and military clothing to army-issued water containers and gas cans, the military surplus section at the flea market can be valuable.

11. Backpacks & Tactical Bags

Along with army supplies at military surplus, a great place to search for a sturdy bag to hold all your goods is at those valuable flea markets. Backpacks and various types and sizes of tactical bags are available at most flea markets.

There is nothing worse than to haul needed items with shoddy bags or gear that is not made for what you are needing it for. Always look for ones that is sturdy but lightweight and has enough pockets to hold survival gear.

12. Clothing and Sturdy Boots

When purchased brand-new, boots are expensive. You can luck out occasionally at the flea market or at the thrift stores and find used or off-season boots for a fraction of the price. Just ensure they are made of sturdy, durable material and are water-tight before purchasing to avoid unpleasant surprises.

You can also find plenty of clothing at all these types of stores. A warm coat, a few sweaters, cozy socks, and some rain-resistant items are all essentials you want to have available.

13. Radios and Tech Equipment

A portable AM/FM radio that works on batteries or does not require power is essential to survival in an emergency is a tool that you should have and you are able to find those types of things at thrift stores and flea markets.

You might also want to keep an eye out for other tech equipment, such as ham radios, Voltage testers, Amps testers, and even radioactive testers.

14. Gas Cans & Hazardous Material Containers

The flea market is a haven for canisters, both old and new. Keep your eyes peeled for used gas canisters, water jugs, and other types of containers that can handle potentially corrosive materials. Having many sizes and styles available will be beneficial in an emergency.

15. Protective Medical Equipment

Protective equipment and PPE items are available in abundance following the pandemic, and it doesn’t have to be all N95 masks and latex gloves. You can include a gas mask or two with unused filters for noxious items that may arise, or even a small self charging defibrillator. It can also involve medical kits that are newer than 2005 as well.

How easily a disaster can happen and how unprepared we are, is a real-time fear. Stock up on protective equipment and be ahead of the crowd.

16. Mosquito Nets, Tents, & Camping Gear

Camping gear is essential to tomorrow’s every-day living. It doesn’t matter whether you are bugging in or bugging out, having the right shelter that can be carried or put up easily in a hurry can be a lifesaver.

You never know if you will have to leave the comfort of your home and rough it outdoors either. A tent, mosquito net, and other camping gear can save you a great deal of struggle. Look for these items mostly at a flea market before going out and purchasing them brand new.

Often, these items can be purchased at a lower price when they are surplus or gently used.

17. Fishing Supplies

If fishing is your thing, and for eating on a daily basis, it just may be durable fishing gear is another set of items better found at a flea market. More often at better prices than at sporting goods stores.

Look for fishing rods, reels, hooks, nets, and other things to help secure a meal.

Stocking up on fishing essentials is a smart step toward preparedness.

18. Flashlights, Oil Lamps, Lanterns, Candles And Fire Starting Kits

Having a few flashlights in your prepper kit is essential. The ones you can wind up and battery powered ones alike. Look for high-powered flashlights, wind-up flashlights, or ones of various sizes. While oil lamps and lanterns will not be as easy to come by, they can be found at flea markets occasionally. Keep your eyes peeled for lamps and lanterns that are functional and lightweight. Candles or candle making equipment is next here that you can use when the blackouts happen to the electrical grid. Additionally, having an inexhaustible source for starting a fire is prudent as well, of which you could definitely find at a flea market.

19. Gardening Supplies

Gardening is not only a fun way to pass the time, but it could also be essential to your survival one day. Consider searching your local flea market for gardening tools such as shovels, rakes, and sheers. Planters, trays and other garden related items can be found when you are looking for them.

You can often find there as well people who are selling seeds or seedlings that can be taken home and planted.

20. Miscellaneous Survival items

While many items could fit into this category, consider searching the thrift stores and flea markets for other things that could be valuable to survival. Look for everything from crutches to portable generators, bandages, rain gear, winter clothing, blankets, sewing supplies, and power tools.

Think about everything you do daily, what you would use daily and look for alternative options that are cheaper at these places.

Catastrophes come in many forms, from natural phenomena to man made disasters. It is hard to predict when or where each will strike, let alone what it will fully entail. Truthfully, it is not a matter of whether a disaster will strike, with everything that has been done recently it is only a question of when. Thus, being prepared for the inevitable means being prepared for most anything.

Ultimately the Lord will provide in the day of need, but we can give Him a hand when it comes to our more immediate needs when the good times stop rolling.

You can save a lot of money by shopping for deals and still manage to complete an impressive stock. Keep your eyes open, and keep focused.