I’ve had the same experience at flea markets in NV. There are not a lot of tools to be had, and those that are there are typically garbage or overpriced. Thus, I’ve had to resort to more creative methods of finding tools.
Here are a few things I’ve done that have worked:
1. Look for auctions – most people go to auctions for the machinery/bigger items. I’ve had very little competition when bidding on hand tools and have got some good bargains on very nice tools.
2. Talk to people at garage sales – ask if they have old tools they’d be willing to sell. I’ve had limited success with this – sometimes people forgot what they had hidden away that never made it to the sales table. I had one lady bring out a collection of moulding planes. I was dumbfounded. Not sure how someone could forget they had those! I would have loved to purchase them, but they were not serviceable (leaving wooden planes untended in the desert for 15 years will do that to them). It’s not a 100% win method, but if you approach people about tools, you can get good deals.
3. Craigslist – “want to buy” ads.
Hope that helps – I certainly understand your frustration. If all else fails, you can also order from other places where there are a good selection of tools – like Ed Lebetkin’s shop at Underhill’s place in NC, or numerous other dealers. Good luck!