I have often enjoyed going to Flea Markets. I don’t get to go much nowadays, but in my youth, from the time of my earliest memories, Saturday included a trip to the Flea Market. Often it was beside the Livestock Auction barn, so it was easy to walk through the Flea Market while waiting on my elders to empty the truck of our livestock. I was usually given a dollar and allowed to wander on my own.
There are important qualities of a flea market. Not modern day Flea Markets that have become small retail establishments, but the old timey kind, where folks gathered up things they no longer needed and took them to market to see if they could make something off of their wares. Items were usually used, broken, but with potential. See where I’m going?
Much about life in our nation is about “new, improved, and exciting.” Flea Markets are more honest venues. What you see is what you get. Items brought to market were often old furniture, lamps, books, glassware, tools, pictures, and so forth. Things that were used once somewhere to sustain life, to decorate homes, to be part of the backdrop to life. Flea Markets are preachers of the transitory nature of life. We are here a while, and soon we move on. Flea Market material shows that. Items that were once valued are now being cast away from their home, with the possibility of being reused elsewhere, possibly as primitive art forms, or even in some new way, like turning some unlikely item into a planter. Some things hold value as “collectibles” that become treasures for those for whom a collection is a valuable thing.
Money is exchanged after a bit of bickering over the price. Seller announces “asking price” and buyer makes an opening offer. Back and forth, and finally the end price. One side or the other must give in to make the agreement for a sale to take place. The sale is an important part of the bargain. Cash only is the usual rule. Because of this, sometimes stolen items get sold at Flea Markets. So you have to be careful and evaluate why the seller is selling if you don’t want to get into trouble.
I used to feel pressured after I walked through the Flea Market to buy something, anything. After all, that was why I was given my Saturday Dollar. I came home with some interesting things: an old trophy, a crucifix, a live rabbit, several pocket knives (which I traded pretty shrewdly), a cane, and a duck that rocked back and forth and seemed to drink water. It was a fun place, and seemed full of possibilities.
Life is like a flea market. You walk through and make your selection, you bargain to gain possession, make your sacrificial payment, and take home the prize. Somebody else could write that better. But it seems to be about choices, seeing potential no one else sees, making a selection and finding some way to overlook the flaws or repairing what’s broken to bring forth utility once again. Flea Markets seem to preach about how redemptive life can be. Never assume it’s over. You never know when someone will see value in things others have discarded.