adventures at the local flea market

{This post will be illustrated with randomly nice pictures of colourful clutter and interesting antiquities – not photos from the flea market I frequent.}

5 Kitchen Things You Should Always Pick Up at a Flea Market — The Kitchn

So, my family has the tradition where every Saturday, Dad takes one of us kids to the flea market that’s about a half hour drive from our house.  The whole thing started because of eggs: there are ten people in my family (including me), and we eat lots of eggs all the time (scrambled, fried, egg salad, in cooking and baking…) so it isn’t economical to purchase the several dozen we consume each week from a grocery store.  There’s a great place at the flea market that sells several dozen eggs in one big box.  Dad went by himself at first, but as there’s tons more to see/do at the market than just buy eggs, he realized that it would be a great way to spend time with each child individually (something that wouldn’t happen a lot otherwise – he’s pretty busy).  It’s become a fun routine, even for my introverted self (okay, I’ll admit I don’t always want to go when my turn comes around, but I’m usually glad I went afterwards), and I thought I’d share some of the flea market’s idiosyncrasies, since I know them so well and I just went recently, so it’s all fresh in my mind.

To begin with, I suppose I should describe the market a little so that you can see it in your mind’s eye…

There are three large barns: one for bargains, one for antiques/collectibles, and one for junk.  The categories tend to overlap a LOT (particularly the junk part) and it makes for an interesting experience, as you never know quite what you’ll find (food shouldn’t really fit into any of those barns, but each one has a least one food stall).  The barns are all roughly grouped around a large area in which outdoor booths are set up if it’s spring or summer or fall.  The ground is a mixture of sand and gravel, which is muddy in the spring, muddy and snowy in the winter, and rock hard in summer and autumn.  All the barns are bright and warm, but not really bustling, because everyone tends to poke around if they’re a customer, or, if they’re a vendor, sit and chat with other vendors.  Like I mentioned before, there’s quite a bit of junk mixed into nearly everything, but there are some good finds, if you search hard enough.

Paris Flea Markets: Marché aux Puces St.-Ouen de Clignancourt...I want to wade into this market waste deep and shop until I drop!  Too fabulous for words!

Dad usually starts off with buying the eggs (usually one case, but sometimes two) and taking them back to the van, and then we make The Rounds.  Pretty much the only two stalls that can offer consistent quality are the Lego booth, and the coin booth (rare coins, precious metals, stamps, etc.), so we always go to those two first.  Dad likes talking with the guy who runs the coin booth – and it can get pretty boring – so I go and wander around the Lego booth and the antiques/collectibles barn at large.  

Most of the books sold at the flea market are trashy romances (ugh) or pulp thrillers, but I have seen a few classic volumes and there’s one stall that sells a bunch of Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys/Cherry Ames/Trixie Belden books.  There are actually several people that sell books – since there are so few buyers, nearly everyone has to supplement their main product(s) with a bunch of trinkets and unrelated items. (At least that’s my theory.)  Anyway, I haven’t found a Jack Cavanaugh book there yet, which is always my goal at places that sell used books, but once I do, you’ll be hearing about it.

I don’t actually find much of anything worth my money whenever I go, but the last time I went, I did.  At one of the outdoor stalls, sandwiched between Bridget Jone’s Diary and Mean Girls, there was a DVD that had a collection of four WWII movies on it – and one of them was The North Star, starring (hehe…no pun intended) my beloved Farley Granger and Dana Andrews (who happen to go together like bacon and eggs).  Awesome, no?  I snapped it up right away (obviously).

Flea markets are always exciting. I feel like it allows me to experience a bit of the past while I anticipate finding a hidden gem.

And now to discuss the People Of The Flea Market (my favorite part)…

There’s a guy who runs the Lego booth, who shall remain nameless because I don’t know how to spell his name I don’t really want to name names here, who kind of weirds me out…because I’ve never seen him!  Everyone in my family (except Mom, who rarely goes to the market) has a story about him, can imitate him, can describe him, but not me because I’ve never seen him, in all the years I’ve been going to his booth. (He gets his mom to fill in for him sometimes, which explains a lot, but STILL.)  As for the booth itself, it has a really nice selection of minifigures (which I collected once upon a time) and used sets and Lego-themed books, which makes my brothers + sisters very happy. (And Dad’ll buy a set or a figure semi-regularly; he has nice little collection himself.)

According to my sister, there’s a woman who sells heavy, knitted hats and scarves year-round, even when it’s summer and stepping into one of the barns feels like stepping into a pressure cooker.  She (my sister) has never seen a single person buy anything from that booth, which kinda makes me feel bad, because it’s obvious that the woman has put a bunch of effort into everything she sells…but pretty much nobody ever buys anything from anyone, so it’s not a unique story.

Stil in #Berlin: Shop in Berlin: Arkona Platz Flea Market More information on Berlin:

Then there’s this one real estate agent who’s managed to write himself into the Schonhaar family history (which basically means we’ll always remember him and most likely tell our children about him) because his stall is, in a word, odd.  Like I said, he’s a real estate agent (sells golf courses, stuff like that), and while he does hand out business cards with alacrity, his booth is crammed full of random knick-knacks, which somewhat lessens the effect.  Lids for missing cookware, cookware with missing lids, old Christmas ornaments mixed in with gold-panning equipment (I kid you not), and on and on it goes.  Weird, huh?

But there’s one person that trumps everyone else: The Neo-Nazi Guy.  THIS GUY.  IS CRAZY.  When you walk into his booth, it’s like bearding the lion in its den (Elisabeth and I did it once – I don’t really want to again).  The guy’s got heavy metal music blaring from speakers, and the further you penetrate into his lair, the more Nazi-ish it becomes.  Revolution-type Neo-Nazi magazines from the 70s are stacked on rickety chairs, photos of Hitler (and other top ranking Nazi leaders during WWII) are plastered to the walls, he has genuine German helmets and bayonets (WWII) for sale, and swastikas everywhere.  How does he even stay in business?  It beats me.


Sounds interesting, right?  If you ever come up to visit, and you want to see The Illustrious Flea Market, let me know and I’ll arrange a visit. 🙂  It’s open every Saturday and Sunday, except for the major holidays, so getting in shouldn’t be hard. (And in case you were wondering, I’ve concealed the actual name of the market for privacy purposes.)


P.S. I believe this is one of the first posts I’ve written that offers a peek into my family’s life, and if you all enjoyed it – and want more – let me know and I’ll see what I can do about sharing some more.  There are a lot of us, so there are always Interesting Things happening.


14 thoughts on “adventures at the local flea market


    Seriously, how do you manage to not buy everything?! Look at those hats! That tin red London bus! I want it!

    I love your market stories. I so wish now we had such a market nearby – you’re super lucky. Haha, I’m glad to hear our family isn’t the only one who nick-names and tells stories about random people.

    Lovely. Got to visit you now. 🙂

    ~ Naomi


    • OOPS. How embarrassing. I suddenly reread your post and realised the pictures weren’t from your flea market. 😛 I hate it when something awwwkies like this happens. 🙂

      But anyway, if your market is similar to the ones in the pictures, I envy you. 😀


      • Oh, that’s fine. 🙂 I’ve done similar things before (VERY embarrassing, at times). For the most part, our flea market doesn’t have nearly as many lovely things as in the pictures I used, but there are a few gems – I’d love to have you come up some time and tour it!


  2. Next time we visit we will have to go there for sure! Sounds like a cheap adventure! Although I’m sure my kids will want everything in sight, junk or not! lol


  3. Eva, that sounds like so much fun! I love going to places that sell random used stuff like clothes and books and knick-knacks ’cause you never know what you’ll find!

    A Neo-Nazi??? EEEEK! You should wave your Dana Andrews/Farley Granger movie in his face and he will shrivel up and die because of their Sheer Power and Awesomeness. Just kidding–that probably wouldn’t be a good idea.

    I saw a framed picture of Pope Pius XII in one of the photos! Yay! (I know they aren’t actually pictures of your flea market, but still, it makes me happy.)


    • Yep, that’s the best part of going to the flea market or to thrift stores – anything’s possible!

      Hehe…maybe I’ll try that sometime. If anyone could quell him, it would be them. 🙂


  4. I WANNA COOOOOME!!! We’ll add that to our list of things to do, eh? (Haha, that Canadian joke was unintentional.)

    And I found a Jack Cavanaugh book… four, actually. I already told you, but it didn’t count because I hadn’t started reading While Mortals Sleep yet and now I am and it’s amazing and I don’t love JC’s writing (don’t shoot me) but I love the story and OH MY GOODNESS SO MUCH TENSION ALREADY I CAN SEE THE PLOT FORMING so I’ll keep reading it and let ya know what I think *wink*.


    • Oh, definitely! (Hehe…Canadian jokes are awesome, even if unintentional.)

      While I can get why some people wouldn’t like JC’s writing style, I do (obviously). It’s not flowing poetry or stark, vivid prose or anything genius like that, but there’s a certain steadiness/dependability about the way he writes that I love. Whenever I start reading one of his books, it always feels great to slip back into the familiarity of his style. And I can’t fault him on plot or characterization. 🙂 Anywho…I’m soooooo glad you’re enjoying it!!! I’d re-read the series right along with you, but it’s all packed up in prep for The Move.


  5. I would so go there! And then never be able to drag Sam out of the Lego stall. I kind of collect some Lego Minifigs myself, so… I’d probably drop some cash there too.

    I can’t believe you found The North Star there! That is completely awesome.


    • I have a feeling that Sam would get along famously with my brothers. 🙂

      I know! Elisabeth and I have been discussing just when we should watch it again – probably won’t be for a while, though, since this move is taking up everyone’s free time.


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