With the abundance of flea markets it seems logical that thrift shopping is so popular in the Bay Area. With the arrival of Candlestick, we have three fairly decent (ok, one phenomenal) flea markets that operate almost every weekend. My favorite remains Alameda Point Antiques Faire that occurs the first Sunday of every month on the island of Alameda. Situated on a former naval base, this vast market is a vintage hounds dream come true. It is so spacious that you feel like you worked out at the gym by the time you are done. Serious shoppers get there early (yes, at dawn with flashlight in hand) to get the best stuff. It costs more but is so worth it. Trust me - you do not want to be stuck standing in line to buy your reduced price ticket at 9am watching people carrying out all the items you were hoping to find. Plus watching the sunrise over the city isn't bad either.
Next in line is Alemany Flea Market located in Bernal Heights in San Francisco. More like a bazaar, sellers are not restricted to antiques by any means. You can find anything from tools to vinyl but sometimes if you dig hard enough you might find that rare antique at garage sale prices. Open every Sunday with no entry fee, the hunter in me goes time and time again. You have to go with an open mind since some trips are better than others.
Last in line is the new Candlestick Park Antique and Collectibles Faire in the Bayview Hunter's Point district of San Francisco. Occurring on the 3rd Sunday of the month when the 49'ers are not playing (alternative Sunday if they are) the selection is similar to Alameda but on a reduced scale. Despite being in operation a few months now, the numbers of vendors has not increased which makes me worried about its longevity. I hope for the convenience of its location (and easy parking), this market draws enough foot traffic to keep it open. As for me, I have been lucky enough to walk away with several amazing deals so I will continue to go back despite the limited amount of sellers.
If you can venture from the Bay Area check out the Sacramento Antique Faire when you get the chance.