Sunday, May 18, 2008

Flea Marketing

This past winter and spring, I've been going to estate and garage sales--some marvelous finds, don't get me wrong, but to get to that 50 cent Trifari pin you have to bypass outgrown toddler shorts, boxes of romance novels, yellowed Tupperware, and tables and tables of ugly coffee mugs. It requires perseverance.

Yesterday, in contrast, I went to an honest to god flea market in Belleville, Illinois, and oh my what a difference. Stall after stall of wonderful stuff--even if it was ugly, it was wonderful. Vintage plates and planters, hats, buttons, tools, weapons, souvenirs, costume jewelry, toys, postcards, pictures. It was sensory overload. I'd look at a table and only be able to really see three things, then have to look at it again to see three more. Fortunately, I was with friends, so we were able to point out to each other the treasures, the hideous, the absolutely laughable.

The downside, of course, was that most items were priced appropriately, meaning that I couldn't afford them. This was particularly painful when it came to some gorgeous bakelite jewelry, especially a translucent carved pin that looked like applejuice bakelite only green. I'm glad I was about out of money by that time.

So yes, I did manage to come home with a few goodies, including a cute cake cover, a little duck planter, a pile of postcards, and a tin of buttons (you can see some of them above, with my photography assistant, Stella). And it was interesting to talk to some of the vendors. Several of them said they had cut back the number of days they did the flea market to save on gas money back and forth. Many of them lamented the economy, and more than once the price came down as we walked away from a table. One woman told me her son said he was getting a tattoo as soon as he turns 18. Another showed me her Fiestaware price book and told me which colors are most valuable.

I won't give up on my garage sales, but it was nice to be in a place where people really knew and appreciated what they had. Even if most of it was out of my range.

6 comments:

High Desert Diva said...

I rarely do garage sales or estate sales. Flea markets for me, please. I think of them as all the garage sales I missed all together in one spot. Saves oodles of time, not to mention gas money. I figure I'll have to pay a bit more for the items, but to me, after years of doing it the other way...flea markets!

The best ones I've been to have been down by LA. There's one every weekend down there. Rose Bowl, Santa Monica, Long Beach, etc. Plus there's the Roadium which I believe is open daily. I like to go on Mondays. All the vendors have just hit all the weekend garage sales...so prime picks!

Lisa B. said...

I love the cake cover lid, cute graphics. I have that same little duck planter. Mine is painted on "Houghton Lake Michigan". I love flea markets!! I'm glad you had fun and found some treasures.

Alan Roberta said...
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Alan Roberta said...
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Megan McGory said...

You should see the huge flea market we have here...I've been going there since I was 10 and I know I haven't seen everything there yet. Some things have been hanging around since 1994 (some people have had booths in there for over 20 years) but it's great to see the variety.

Callooh Callay said...

It's great that most areas have wonderful flea markets--there's some every weekend around here if you're up for the drive (and can afford it).