Friday, March 16, 2012

Flea Market Finds and Mortality

$1 Best Pickles
One of the local flea markets is my sociology and marketing test laboratory.  I love looking around to see what is being bought, how much it costs, what is being discarded, in short what is hot and what is not!

Here are three shots from today's flea market.  Seems like there is a lot of nostalgia- from Elvis, and Stangl lamps to pickles as good as grandma's for $1. Are people longing for the past? Don't know.  The pickles are sure popular though.  The scissors are a personal favorite.  A buck a pair and mine work really well.  There are other matching craft accessories for one dollar as well and several bright styles to choose from.
Elvis and Stangl Lamp

If you think about it, a flea market or garage sale is like a cross section of current materialism, culture, and popularity. It is an indexing of what we think someone might want.  Estate sales and estate auctions are more like longitudinal studies.  They follow one individual or family and show what that person considered important, especially if the sale follows the death of a very elderly person.  What things did they choose to hold on to, what did they select as  beautiful at the end of a lifetime here on earth?

$1 Scissors
One of the most fascinating estate sales I ever attended was in an obviously wealthy household in our state's capital.  There were closets covering three walls of a large bedroom, closets down the hallway, and expansive wrap-around closets in the adjoining bedroom.  In these closets were expensive and representative styles of women's clothing from every decade beginning in the late 1940's-early 50's.  Dotted Swiss dresses, and Nehru collared pant suits, knit dresses and silk slips and to top it all off a collection of beautiful Japanese kimonos. There were all the accessories needed to complete all the outfits as well. It was a stroll through the fashion past.

Often times there will be a collection of older tools and yard implements and a group of new health and accessibility items.  This denotes the process of aging and the difficulties of independent living as we age.  Many people feel these sales are morbid, and I guess I can see that.  To me it seems like looking at a summary of a persons life represented in the things they chose to use and keep.  Not necessarily sad, but a reality check perhaps.  Reminds me of a friend who drove a Frito-Lay vending route.  He told me that every day he stopped and ate his lunch at a cemetery.  I asked him why and he said "It's quiet there and it helps keep everything in proper perspective".  Selah.

Anyway I don't find estate sales or flea markets sad at all.  The sadness is in the eye of the beholder or the regrets we discover in ourselves.  It is a great chance to evaluate current culture against my life and maybe get a bargain in the process.  I will report back on "Grandma's pickles".


  1. i have never been to an estate sale...lewter was telling me about it...maybe one day we can go together?!

  2. Would love to do that, anyone else want to go. We might have to travel to Little Rock for a good one!