What is it about a flea market that’s so appealing to me?
Call it what you will: a garage sale, a rumble sale, a car boot sale, a yard sale, a bazaar, a charity…there’s something very attractive to me about rummaging through other peoples’ cast-off things.
I think it’s got something to do with the notion that I can somehow incorporate a part of another life successfully into my own. One of our favorite activities on a Saturday or Sunday morning is to get up early and head to the local flea market, which is quite extensive, mind you. You can find any manner of things that might suit your fancy: linens, china, silver, old military patches, those old green Coca Cola bottles with the soda still in them, jewelry, garden plants, furniture, swords, baseball cards and corn on the cob. All in one place.
It’s just great fun to handle things that have past lives, but for me, the appeal is also in calculating how I might take some object and re-purpose it quite differently in my own life. I find great satisfaction in browsing through old photos of people I don’t know, in clothing from a different time and place. While it saddens me that some family member probably died and their belongings and photos were dispatched in this way, I find solace in thinking I’m somehow “rescuing” items, and giving them new life. (I believe in some quarters, this is known as “hoarding.” I prefer to call it intentional rejuvenation.)
My favorite thing about the flea market is probably the other people, though: the ones looking, just like me. It has to be one of the all-time best people-watching venues. And have you ever noticed that an item no one else would have ever given a second glance, suddenly takes on enormous appeal when you have an interest in it? The haggling and negotiating is all part of the fun.
“One man’s trash is another’s treasure.” Come to think of it, our entire house attests to that.