The Huffington Post reported last week that a woman unknowingly purchased what's most likely an original Renoir painting as part of a crap-bundle at a Virginia flea market. According to the article, the woman, who declined to give her name, purchased a box of items for $7 because she liked the Paul Bunyun doll it contained. While we love ourselves some Minnesotan folktales, we love the promises of randomly finding $100,000 worth of art even more. And so we've decided our new September activity is going to be treasure hunting at local flea markets. If you're in, here are five of the area's best antique fairs ready to make our dreams come true. Maybe.
Since 1972, this weekly antiques fair has left its patrons richer in awesome old stuff more than can't-pass-up-deals. In other words, while you won't find what we termed as "crap bundles" sold at this upscale market, you will find individual pieces that you'll love, including art, furniture, jewelry, books and more. Some vendors are hip to credit cards, but most still prefer cash, so bring a fat wallet.
Hours: All year, Sundays, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
1819 35th St., NW (the Circulator stops right in front of it)
Bethesda Flea Market
Offering the most flexible hours, this year-round indoor/outdoor market is a great place to kill several proverbial birds with one stone. If that stone is your wallet. Combined with a farmers market, if you don't find the antique treasures you want, you can always leave with a bag full of fresh local produce. Win-win.
Hours: All year, Wednesdays, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Fridays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturdays, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sundays, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
7155 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda, Md.
Wheaton International Market
Possibly your best chance to get a crap-bundle for tens of dollars that really worth thousands, this weekend fair is worth the trip to the 'burbs, at least if it's not raining. Bring lots of cash because you never know what you'll find here.
Hours: All year, Saturdays + Sundays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Westfield Shopping Mall Parking Lot, 11160 Veirs Mill Rd., Silver Spring, Md.
The Reston Market
Located in Northern Virginia, this weekly seasonal flea/art market doesn't solely do antiques and vintage. You'll have to search through the new to find the old—this market also features a whole slew of area artists and crafters hoping to sell their wares. Plus, if you don't find anything you want, you can always get your face painted.
Hours: Saturday mornings, May - November, 9 a.m. to noon
1609 Washington Plaza, Reston, Va.
DC Big Flea
Sure it's hard to get to Chantilly, which is located right near Dulles airport, but this is an annual event worth reserving a Zipcar for. Come prepared to walk for literal miles, while you circle the labyrinth of booths chock full of old stuff that might be worth a lot... or might not. This is the Mid-Atlantic's largest antique event and the experience, is priceless, or at least worth the $8 it costs to get in.
Hours: September 15, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Dulles Expo & Convention Center, 4320 Chantilly Shopping Center, Chantilly, Va.