We lived in Tennessee and Kentucky when I was little, and every few weeks my mom would bundle us up and take us to the flea market. I don’t remember them very well, but a few things stick out:
1) They were always outside. This also meant that they were usually hot and dusty, but when I was little that irritated me much less than it does now.
2) They had comic books. I used to buy “Swamp Thing” there, and thought it was awesome to just sit and go through the boxes and get a stack of comics for a dollar.
3) My mom bought doilies at one that we used on the coffee table and end tables for years afterward and probably still own.
When I moved back here I didn’t wait very long before I went to my first flea market, but it was different. It was inside, and there weren’t really that many interesting things, just tables and tables of homemade crafts, Tupperware, Avon, sample sized packs of medicine in Rubbermaid bins, and a lot of similar stuff that seemed like you could just get it at a dollar store or discount outlet. Not many antiques, or weird stuff from people’s houses, or the kind of atmosphere that I remembered. I found it disappointing and haven’t gone back to the Expo Center for another.
I never knew where the outdoor one was, though, until last week when my friend Lauren told me she was going to set up a table at one. She just got a new job on the west coast, so she’s trying to sell a lot of her stuff instead of packing and moving it, and I said I’d swing by and show some support.
It’s the flea markets I remember!
Acres of cars parked out front!
Colorful, yet somehow sad, displays of unwanted goods!
And then there’s the oddities, the things you don’t ever see for sale anywhere else, like a vaguely blasphemous Virgin Mary beach towel:
Nothing screams “Day at the beach!” more than a scantily girl slathered in cocoa butter and laying on Jesus’ mom as topless guys walk by and ogle her. It’s pretty much the definition of “wholesome family fun”.
More photos are on the photo page, including the live chickens, which disturbed me. My taking a picture of them disturbed the guy selling them even more, though, which makes me wonder about the legality of the whole thing. That’s probably also part of the fun of the outdoor flea market.