An indoor flea market is a large indoor market where traders buy, sell, and exchange used goods. The quality of the goods at a traditional flea market is highly variable and can include very inexpensive items as well as finer antiques and other products. One advantage to the indoor setting is the ability to host a year-round event, and in some cases the flea market may be permanent in nature. Many regions have indoor flea markets as well as outdoor events when the weather is fair.
Typically, indoor flea markets take place inside a large covered building with numerous individual shops, stalls, and galleries to accommodate traders. Traders pay a fee for the use of the facility and usually pay a premium for special spots within the building as well as especially large shops. Some indoor flea markets allow merchants to lock up their goods at the end of the trading day to eliminate the need to pack and unpack for each day of sales.
The indoor flea market can feature a wide variety of low cost goods. Patrons typically include operators of used goods stores who want to find goods to sell at a profit, like used booksellers who purchase books by the lot to sell. In addition, members of the general public may frequent the flea market to look for deals including collectibles, basic supplies to set up their households, and so forth. The market's size can vary, and it may include parking and amenities like a food court if it is especially large.
Large covered markets have an ancient history around the world, although the flea market appears to have arisen in Paris in the 18th century. Parisian flea markets are famous for being among the oldest and largest in the world. The term “flea market” appears to be a reference to these early markets, where some of the goods sold might have had fleas due to careless cleaning or poor hygiene at the market itself.
In some regions an indoor flea market runs year round and has set hours. The vendors may rotate periodically as stalls become available, and it may also host a farmers' market and other markets seasonally. Other areas have a seasonal indoor flea market, usually during the height of tourist season. The building is used for other purposes when the indoor flea market is not in operation. Stall rental fees vary and merchants may need to agree to abide by a code of conduct limiting behavior and the types of items available for sale.