To Scott’s, or not to Scott’s? That is the question. On the best days, you might score the perfect piece of furniture for your guest room while creating the illusion that you’ve taken the kids to a carnival. On the worst, you might find yourself running out of the building, dragging one kid by the arm and holding the other, Heisman style, under your own, with nothing to show for it but a broken superhero figure that you paid too much for. Let’s be honest: it could go either way. But with a few insider tips, you’ll be increasing your odds for a successful trip to Scott’s with the smalls.

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Go Early, Strike Fast
This rule applies to much of what we do as parents of preschoolers, and it’s no different for a trip to Scott’s. Get there before the crush of the day’s crowds arrive at 10:30, and plan to spend no more than three hours (including a break) there.

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Let Them Eat Cake! (and You Should Try the Chicken Salad!)
Not so certain the crew will love the Greek or home cookin’ at the food court? Pack your own lunch for them to eat as you stroll them around (make sure it’s something that will delight… a la peanut-butter and marshmallow sandwiches), but brake for cake! Not far from the food court in the South building is a mother’s kryptonite in a pastry case – seasonal cakes that look as good as they taste, and guaranteed to simmer any squirmy kid down before round 2 at the Market. If you’re near the front of the South building and there isn’t too long a line, pick up some killer chicken salad for yourself. Even if you don’t find the perfect piece you’re looking for at the Market, you’ll feel like you scored.

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This Is How You Roll
Some places are navigable with kiddos who aren’t strapped in and restrained to a stroller. Scott’s is not one of those places. Not only will you need to control their movements and keep their little hands safely away from the table of cut glass decanters, but you’ll also need the extra storage for all your treasures!

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Cash and Carry
Most places accept cash and checks, and some accept credit. However, keep cash on hand so you won’t have to stall your momentum while the owner charges your card or takes additional information. You also might be able to bargain for a better price, justifying a little more purchasing power for the day.

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Know the Lay of the Land
Fools to the left of me, jokers to the right… Don’t be stuck in the no-man’s land of booths that have nothing to do with your shopping objectives. In the spirit of keeping the trip short and covering the most ground, know the layout of each building before you go. Outside stalls are your best bet for true flea market finds, including the storied Southern yard art we’re all dying to bring home. The stalls in the South building are more suited to bargain hunters, while the North building is a collector’s nirvana. Remember to bring your measurements, swatches, and a measuring tape.

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Two Minutes in Paradise
Much like the game, this rule is breakable only if something really strikes your fancy in the stall. You’ll never cover the ground you need to by spending 5-10 minutes in each stall that catches your eye, especially with kids in tow. Take a look, and if you’re not committed to a purchase in the first two minutes, move on! There’s a great big show out there, and you’re kiddos will stay entertained as long as they’re on the move.

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Movie for the Ride Home
A day at Scott’s is a big day for anyone, and especially for your carload of kiddos. Whatever your commute home may be, don’t let a wailer spoil your victory lap around the city. Bring the portable DVD player and you’ll ride home in soothing silence instead of meltdown mayhem.

Details: Scott’s Antique Market is typically held the second weekend of each month. Click here for exact show dates and hours. 3650 Jonesboro Rd SE, Atlanta, GA 30354, 404-361-2000

Like to take your tots to Scott’s? Share your secrets to smart shopping with the smalls below!

—Shelley Massey

Photos courtesy of Scott’s Antique Market via Facebook