Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Good Thing #30: Flea Markets

I used to love going to yard sales. Then eBay happened and now we have career eBay-ers who descend like locusts at 7 am to yardsales that don't start until 9 and they buy up everything worthwhile, not because they want it, not because it will bring them joy, but because they intend to sell it for more money. Their presence has turned yard sailing from a pleasant way to ease into the weekend into something more of an annoyance.

Fortunately, there's flea markets. Flea markets are a little more expensive than yard sales, but they tend to be better curated. After going to the same flea markets a few times, you start to recognize the vendors and you know what to expect to find at their tables. They'll also give you better deals once they get to know you.

Flea markets fill a nice niche for me. I'm always on the lookout for antique paper goods. I'm looking for design inspiration, though, not as a collector. It doesn't matter to me if the page is slightly damaged, so long as the graphics are intact. I don't need the quality I'd find in an antique shop, and don't want to pay antique shop prices for it. These are the kind of things I like to find at flea markets.

Flea markets are fun because you never know what you'll find there. Our past is vaster and stranger than we realize. Antique shops will sell you the high notes. Truly great products and designs get remembered in books and websites. The worst things ever made also get special attention. So much of the stuff in the middle just falls through the cracks and the only way you'd know it existed is when you find it at a flea market. Then you wonder why it was made, who bought it, why it was worth hanging on to... and then it winds up coming home with you!

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