Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thursday Thrift: Flea Markets

A quick Thursday Thrift today! One great place to make some incredible thrift finds is the local flea markets or swap meet. These are the places where multiple "vendors" get a space to sell their wares to a crowd. My parents used to drag me to the flea market every Saturday and I. Hated. It. I love flea markets now, but back then, it was the biggest waste of my time. Hey, I was an adolescent... I didn't know how cool it actually was to go thrifting yet.

Typical flea markets combine food vendors, independent families selling off extra stuff (think yard sale) or working a small family owned business (farm produce, homemade food/wares, niche items), and commercial vendors selling new and/or used items. I usually avoid the commercial vendors unless I'm looking for something specific and have already priced it in the stores. Often, flea markets sell live animals (depends on the specific flea market rules) and it isn't uncommon for people to bring their dogs/other pets with them. I remember on one trip as a child, a man walked around with a huge cockatoo on his shoulder. I realize there are several (in the 20s range) species of cockatoos so this is the kind I'm talking about. I've mentioned before that I have a pathological fear of birds. Yeah, I had already developed this fear by that age so I freaked out. And the bird knew I was scared of him. He bobbed his head up and down and flared the yellow plumage thing on his head and screeched at me. Only at me. He locked eyes with me, I swear.

Minus the probable birds, I love flea markets as an adult. I especially enjoy flea markets that have fresh produce vendors. Also, the little old ladies that sell canned vegetables and stuff absolutely make my day. They are always the sweetest things and they have the best stories ever. I know that old lady stories may drive some people up the wall, but I love nothing more than to sit and listen to these women chatter on about the Great Depression, Mr. Roosevelt, the mystery novel golden age, Jesse Owens and Joe DiMaggio, and big band music (Duke Ellington, Glen Miller, Benny Goodman, etc.). They lived through some of the worst times in US history (much like we are working on now) but experienced some of the greatest things in US history too (the incredible success of Agatha Christie, the Fireside chats, women's suffrage, etc.). Not that I would want to live through the Great Depression, but my entertainment (think the music, books, movies etc.) tastes are definitely borne from the early 30s through the 60s. I'm weird like that.

ProTip: Depending on the State you live in, the harvest for that year, and other mitigating factors, you can often get jars of homemade jams and jellies for dirt cheap, like say in the $2-5 range sometimes. Buy some cheap ribbon from a dollar store, tie it around the top of the Mason jar, and use scissors to curl the ends and voila... cheap gifts appropriate for any holiday or festivities. I don't know if it is nation-wide, but I know personally that at least a few states now require anyone that sells food (including homemade and canned foods) to the public to have a license and pass inspections so you might check on that before you buy something.

Love is love, no matter the back story. <3 DS

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