Welcome to the Frugal Finds Weekend edition! The Blawgirl dishes out tips every Saturday morning on how she tries to be a smarter shopper.

Be sure to check back 11:30 (ish) Monday through Friday when The Blawgirl crawls the Interwebz to find steals and deals for the frugal law student and the competitive bargain shopper.

I didn’t like going to swap meets when I was younger. To my young, malleable mind, they were the epitome of unhipitude, and I, a girl who had transferred out of a private, Catholic school into the California public school system, couldn’t risk (more) unhipness. I wanted to try to fit in, wear what everyone else was wearing, have what everyone else had. And the alphas at the school certainly did not wear fake Nike T-shirts and buy Tamagotchi knockoffs. That, plus the fact that my mother and grandmother always brought umbrellas or unsightly, Scarlett O’Hara-sized hats to keep from getting tan (as many Asian women are taught to do), made me quake in my jelly sandals about possibly being seen by a classmate whenever I went to the local outdoor market.

I’m glad that I have gotten over that.

Today, I love, love, love my local swapmeet, or as my dad jokingly calls it, “SM” (not to be confused with S & M because that is just eww coming from a parental unit). And if you’re a deal seeker or one who loves to haggle for a lower pricetag, you may just grow to love your local SM too.

The SM is not for the weak hearted, however. If you like order, knowing where to find things, and knowing just exactly what things and what brands you want to purchase, it might not be the place for you. You have to be willing to walk down aisles, roll up your sleeves, sometimes dig through bins to find things you’re looking for. But oh the wonders to be had.

I’m certain the offerings vary from place to place, but, if my SM is any indication, you can find almost anything: fresh produce,4243137_c3c8c8fe77 processed food stuffs, jeans, shoes, dresses, blouses, purses, accesories, plants, used stuff, new stuff, furniture, and even pets (I saw someone buy a trained cockatoo last week) all for way below what you would pay for those products in stores, and even lower if you get on the seller’s good side.

An example: Two blouses=$10. A pair of jeans=$8. A pair of cute heels=$5. Sunglasses=2 for $10. Picking up an entire outfit for less than $50=priceless.

Besides the deals to be had, the cheap prices draw many people from many different cultures to the markets, like moths to a steeply, discounted flame. This creates a bazaar-like atmosphere, where the haggling is done in many languages, and in many types of dress. Tagalog, Mandarin, Spanish. Jeans and Ugg boots, saris and even full-on burquas. If you don’t go for the deals, just go for the culture. It is truly something to be seen.

There doesn’t seem to be an online directory of all the swapmeets in the United States, but, if you’re in the Orange County, Calif., area you can try checking out The Orange County Marketplace (Costa Mesa), the Goldenwest College Swap Meet (Huntington Beach), or the Cypress College Swap Meet (Costa Mesa), which were voted the top three markets in The O.C. by The Orange County Register.

You can also check out the California Swap Meet Association Web site, or visit my local swap meet held every 7 a.m. to about 2:30 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday at Nogales High School, 401 Nogales Street, La Puente, Calif.

Happy shopping, bargain hunters! See you on Monday!

Photos: SteevzStuff / Flickr and Laura Grace / Flickr

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