Everything You Never Thought You Needed

Greetings, Scribe friends, Suze here.  Did everyone get their taxes finished and out the door, either electronically or via the good ole Postal Service of the U.S. of A.? Here’s hoping you got a big refund. And when it arrives, or if it’s burning a hole in your pocket already, I’ve got a suggestion how you can spend some of it.

Come back after the flea market closes, and you can have dinner and see a couple of movies!

I’m talking about the flea market. Do you have one nearby? There are a couple not too far from my home, and Mr. Suze and our son visited one last weekend. This one has the advantage of being on the grounds of one of the only drive-in movie theaters left in New England.  (Check out Mansfield Drive-In here.)  So here are my top reasons for loving flea markets:

1.    You can find everything you never thought you needed. Where else can you find a banjo (Son wanted this, but at $350 decided against it), depression glass, knockoff designer purses (I was tempted on some of these), or this stunning planter:


Wouldn't this look great on the antique plant stand in the foyer?


2. You’re supporting small enterprise. Some vendors actually buy up other people’s unwanted stuff, clean it (sometimes!), pack and transport it, then set it up in a jumble on on their tables or on tarps on the ground, all for your viewing and purchasing pleasure.

3. You’re assisting someone else with her fung shui. Clearing clutter is good for increasing your energy and creativity. That person who is getting rid of unwanted items may now go on to achieve her dreams, all because you bought her barely used George Foreman grill for $5.00 (haggled down from $8.00).

4.  You can observe people for hours, getting necessary fodder to store away in your idea silo. This is one of my favorite things about the flea market. See that woman in the sunglasses and floppy-brimmed hat? Is she the careful, cautious type who wears her sunscreen without fail, exercises and eats right, calls her mother every Saturday morning, and is about to meet the man who will change her life forever? Or is she a spy-gone-rogue, on the run from a secret government organization, and the only thing that can save her is the long-lost information hidden in that dusty trout mounted on a varnished wooden board?

Now, you do have to be careful at places like this. It’s very easy to go overboard and come home with a lot of stuff that will actually make your life worse (see #3, above). Over the years I’ve developed some rules about what I can buy. If it’s just one more thing to store or dust, no. If it is a piece of my discontinued wedding china pattern (Mikasa Imperial Rose — anybody got some cheap?), yes.  I really have to keep my love of a bargain in check, and I have a weakness for antique dishes, vintage costume jewelry, and of course books, books, books.

That's a big TBR pile!

On this latest trip to the flea market, nothing fit my criteria. So I bought nothing. Mr. Suze bought a fold-up fishing chair and a reel for an 8mm film projector (the old projector, we already have). Teenage son bought a hot dog.

How about you? Love flea markets or tag sales (in other parts of the country you might call them yard or garage sales)? What items can’t you resist? What’s the most unusual item you’ve seen at one?

23 thoughts on “Everything You Never Thought You Needed”

  1. Awesome planter, Suze! I can totally see that sitting outside my back door:-) My mom used to drag me around to antique shops, tag sales, and flea markets when I was a kid and i loved finding cool little treasures to add to my trove. These days though, I am all about decluttering so I stay away from those venues at all cost. I’ve decided that i have everything I need or want in my life without adding more “stuff.” I realize that I hate dusting more than I need one more pretty vase or unusual lamp.

    1. I’ll tell you, I almost gave in and bought the planter. But I’ve carefully trained myself to have an almost Vulcan-like resistance to this sort of temptation!

    1. See, I think only writers really understand this equation: lots of people + lots of unusual items = plenty of story ideas!

  2. I love the idea of flee markets but since I refuse to buy anything that will collect dust I usually come away empty handed. You should check out the ELEPHANTS TRUNK in New Milford. Its a famous flee market here in ct.

    1. I agree about the dusting thing. I rarely buy anything, just pay my $2.00 parking fee and enjoy the sights! Will definitely check out The Elephant’s Trunk!

  3. These are great fun for People Watching, as you said, and it’s a fun exercise to think up story for those particularly odd items, too. “How did this German torpedo propeller end up at South Carolina flea market?”
    Great post 🙂

    1. Absolutely, Greg! As we speak I am contemplating if I can use that stuffed and mounted trout in my current WIP…

  4. I avoid any place that will tempt me to add more clutter in my house, which, sadly, now includes the library’s annual book sale. As a kid, I remember my mother taking us to the flea market in Brattelboro, Vermont. I still have the animal figurines that we bought their years ago.

    1. Oh, the library sale 😦 I still go, but I’ve seriously curtailed my buying. In my defense, every year or so I go through all the books I bought there but never read, and donate them back.

  5. I love flea markets. I adore antiques and have made quite a few nice finds at flea markets. I’m particularly interested in furinture and old glasswear and dishes. I have an antique hutch cabinet full of glasswear and dishes which I have found at flea markets. There once was a really good one in Woodbury, but it has since closed. It was every Saturday morninng from Memorial Day through Labor Day and I went every week without fail. I also was able to pick up some very beautiful pins (circa 1940’s) for $1 to $2 each. God I miss that flea market. Jamie – where is that one in Milford and when is it?

    1. I see we have the same weaknesses for dishes and jewelry, Gerri! I see a possible girls’ day out for us, unless you think we would be bad influences on each other…

  6. I love to look at other people’s junk! My mother once bought me a huge box of additional pieces to my “fine china” – a set that my grandmother got at the bank back in the 1950’s. Every time she made a deposit she got a plate, or something like that. I have hers (a set for 8) and now an additional service for 8 plus serving pieces. I’m always on the lookout for more…and I love books, but I have a rule about them. If the books are not signed by the author or an absolute favorite of mine, I can’t keep it. I read it and then donate it to the library. Same thing with the library’s $5 sale – I fill a bag and then donate them back after I’ve read them.

    1. I have a horrifying number of sets of china: my new everyday Fiestaware (which replaced my Pfaltzgraff, remaining pieces passed on to a certain Sister Scribe who just happens to have the same pattern!), my husband’s aunt’s set of Noritake “Margaret,” my aforementioned wedding china, my mother-in-law’s set of everyday china (it’s a blue/white Currier & Ives set that I think came from the grocery store in the 1970s), and her set of everyday china she got for her wedding in the 1940s (Universal Ballerina “Oriental Flower” — a pretty pink cherry blossom on a white background). I love them all! Unfortunately, I do not have a daughter to pass anything on to, but someday maybe I’ll have a granddaughter. If not, I have my nieces and my husband’s cousins’ girls!

      1. give it time…maybe you’ll have LOTS of grandaughters…like 12…and you’ll have to buy new china to give away! 🙂

  7. Dishes, dishes, dishes!!!! I love them (in case you didn’t know this, Suze). If you ever find Royal China pattern Wayne’s County (also called Buck’s County depending on color), let me know. It is white with green design…different farm scenes on different pieces. How does Mr. Suze feel about being called Mr. Suze??

    1. Will keep my eyes peeled for that super cute pattern, now that I know what to look for (Googled it). The dishes fetish may be genetic. Mr. Suze never reads the blog, so I’m not sure he knows I call him that 😉

  8. I love #4. If for no other reason, I love to get out and people-watch. 🙂 That being said, I must admit to visiting (and purchasing at) a yard sale when husband and I were in Key West a few years back. We got some great deals–not as nice as your planter idea, but nice just the same. LOL

  9. Susannah, well, that planter is hysterical. No, I do not frequent flea markets or garage sales. But Lockwood has a flea market every fall. I was a participant last year, maybe again this year, but not for my art, rather for my accessories. Cash and carry. I got lots of them. Thanks for the great post.

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