Flea Markets Are Like Dating, or Maybe Not

Regrets .. There Were A Few

Apr 14, 2011 by

I enjoy flea markets.

I love fleaing.  Ur, no, no – not fleeing. We’re not talking about dating when you’re 50+ today.  Or, maybe we are.  The quality rankings of fleaing could apply to dating.  But then we humans can make pretty much anything (Hey! Quantum physics!) apply to our mating rituals.  But I digress.  ANYHOO…

I can spend hours and hours marveling that someone somewhere actually bought the turquoise/burnt orange/rusted/broken gizmoy thingie in the first place.  What the hell is it anyway; good lord is that really three zeros on the price tag!? WHAT is the dealer smoking? Now, that I’d buy – must be really good shit, man.

For those of you who may be new to the fine art of fleaing, here are some basics:

Fundamental law that applies to all flea markets everywhere: The uglier or more useless an item, the more extravagant the exclamations of glee and wonder of the person right behind you in the aisle…”Oh, it’s FABULOUS!” “It’s PERFECT!” “I LOVVVEEEE IT!” And, right then and there, the delusional dealer gets his price for the thingie.  Whadda I know?

Of course, one woman’s junk is another’s junque, or “vintage” or “antique” or even “classic” (Dating and mating…Sean Connery! Yea, baby…)  However, I do get a wee perturbed when something I remember my Mom using every day (and then throwing away) is touted as vintage or antique.  Just ‘cuz it was made in the ‘50s doesn’t make it good or worth the jacked-up price (unless we’re – um – talking about me.)

There are three levels of quality in fleaing.

1.  Junque.  This is the really cool stuff. A bit battered, maybe, but that’s part of the cool.  You.Just.Have.To.HAVE.IT.   If My mom and grandmom would laugh at me for buying it, it’s almost a sure thing it’s going home with me.  I bought an old folding chair for $40 one day, didn’t even quibble on the price.  Wooden. Worn black paint. Fading velvet seat. HAD.TO.HAVE. IT.   Ditto the old hall mirror with the caballeros and swooning senoritas art.  (Somewhere my grandmom was pointing and laughing as I wrote the check for $70.)

See “fundamental law” here.  I didn’t say I make any more sense than other shoppers.

2.  Junk. Old office supplies. Frying pans. Coffee cups.  All still useful and sometimes even fun (Oh, look! A plastic Fuller Brush man letter opener!) but, still and all, junk.  (Practically) nobody would ever say “FABULOUS!” I did, however, score two small cast iron frying pans for much less than new.  Like I said, useful. I also almost bought the little plastic man, complete with fedora, letter opener, but it was four bucks and I try to keep the amount of sheer kitsch down to a dull roar in my ever-shrinking office. (The cabellero mirror hangs on my office wall.)

3.  Crap. This is the sad stuff that was left when the family skipped out on the rent at the trailer park.  The manager loaded up the trash bags and here – inexplicably – it is at the flea market.

I always know it’s time for me to call it a day when I actually start feeling sorry for the abandoned crap.  Ah, poor W.C. Fields head with the broken nose…

P.S. If you Love – with a Big L – it, buy it.  Life is short; regret is long. I’m still regretting I didn’t buy that huge antique bird cage at the Amsterdam market all those years ago…how I would’ve gotten the thing on the damned plane, much less where I’d put it, I ain’t got a clue.

Read More: The Bloggess, Flea markets are frightening places but you can find very cheap tea towels that you can later use as blankets. I think she and I have been hitting some of the same markets…

About the Author

Mary Schmidt Has Written 26 Articles For Us!

Mary is a proud Corporate America refugee, having long ago decided that quality of life is far more important than quantity of stuff. However, that said, she thinks money is a very good thing - when used as a tool, not a success measurement. In addition to writing for us, she blogs about business development and marketing at www.maryschmidt.com and about marketing to and by women at www.lipsticking.com. In her consulting business, her clients have ranged from mega-corps such as Hewlett-Packard to local Mom & Pops.
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1 Comment

  1. Mary – One more to add to your list .. one person’s junk, junque or crap is another person’s dream date. Too bad those “dates” can be more difficult to pass along than things you find as flea markeets. lol!

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