Fleahopper’s at it again!
The paperback version of my new book “Flea Market Travel, Treasures & Tips” has just been released.
Please consider picking up a copy for yourself…and a friend!
Hot off the press!
I just finished my first ebook and it is now online.
Follow the story of how Fleahopper was born. Visit hot flea market spots around Europe. Meet some of Fleahopper’s friends around the world.
Paperback version to become available soon.
Wishing you a happy read!
Thank you Ron and Ali for inviting me to interview on your podcast, “So You Wanna Sell on eBay”. It was a fun chat
Here is a link to our call. I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed the lively conversation.
Fleahopper and her sidekick Rambler were busy this Christmas season hitting up as many small resale shops as we could while spending Christmas with family and friends in Bavaria. We didn’t go to a single famous German Christmas market this time, but instead, spent time searching for new resale shops to hit up!
Well, we did walk through one Christmas Market before it was open on our way to a resale shop! We were on a different mission this day.
That small charity shop just past the Weihnachtsmarkt in Kempten is nestled in a side road weaving into the city center. Over the past couple of years it has become popular and expanded into a neighboring store front, doubling the fun of thrifting there. In the front half of the shop you will find seasonal items; decorations, clothing, books, cookware, etc. Toward the back is glassware, pottery, every day kitchen goods, porcelain and a “smalls” glass cabinet full of very inexpensively priced jewelry. Turn right and you’re into the annexed area stocked full of clothing and shoes.
At this shop I picked a stunning vintage plastic cuff bracelet from the corner glass cabinet. Don’t you just love the colors!
It cost me a whopping one euro (approximately $1.35 USD). I also snagged an advent garland made of felt cones for one euro. I’m hanging onto that until next Christmas season when I will have a huge vintage “German Christmas” category in my eBay store.
The following day my daughter had to go grocery shopping so while she was in Aldi I popped into the St. Mang Resale Shop across the street. It is found in a village bordering the larger city of Kempten in the Allgaeu region of Bavaria. We visited this shop during my visit in August 2017 where I found great vintage Christmas items to flip, even in the middle of the summer
Since my visit to this store this time was only a week before Christmas I was hopeful for more of the same. WOW, did I hit the jackpot! There was an entire wall dedicated to Christmas items. I was on the hunt for more vintage wax tree toppers similar to what I had purchased there previously. I didn’t find any more of those but oh, so many more items. I filled two large shopping bags! Christmas themed music boxes, nutcrackers, smokers and vintage glass ornaments.
We actually made a second trip back to this store just prior to my return to the states at the end of my trip. I wanted to check one last time in the hopes that donations had come in since my previous visit. Not much new but I did pick up a couple more Erzgebirge style wooden Christmas decorations. They sell well for me.
We then took a few days off from thrifting to enjoy Christmas with family and friends. We ate, we drank and we reveled in the wonder of Christmas morning through the eyes of my daughter’s nine year old twin boys. There’s just something so magical about that!
After Christmas, local German friends who are also fellow resale shopping lovers offered to accompany me on a trip to Munich to wander through resale shops in the “big” city. We googled store names and addresses and set out early in the morning for the two hour train ride into the city.
I was extremely thankful for their familiarity with the city and public transportation system of trains and subways and their artful guidance using google maps, to walk around and find the shops. It was a cold and blustery wet day but we were on a mission. We did a bit of walking until we finally found a shop open during the “down” season between Christmas and New Years.
This first stop was a bit of a disappointment as it turned out to be only clothing. I did pick up a pair of vintage purple Pierre Cardin pantyhose tights though! They were marked 2.99 euros. We were able to convince the cashier that they should be included in the 50% off sale for any costume related items. Wouldn’t you call purple pantyhose part of a costume? I got them for 1.45 euros (about $1.99 USD). The funniest part was that I only had a twenty euro bill and they didn’t have change. My friends paid, so my price was free!
Back to the S-bahn (subway) and we made our way into the touristy pedestrian area of Munich (the Marienplatz). We briefly browse through TK-MAXX without purchasing anything before we decided it was time for lunch. Nothing like some hearty traditional Germany fare and beer to fuel you before you step back out into the cold, rainy, snowy day!
Next stop was a chain charity resale shop called Oxfam. This small shop was a blast! It was crowded with shoppers itching for a thrifting fix after Christmas. It was stocked with good to better goods typical in most resale shops but they offered one other service that I really enjoyed. There was a cart near the entrance with a variety of items on its shelves. Shortly after our arrival the owner ran an in-store auction style sale of the items on the cart. She started them quite low to ensure a sale. The pace was brisk and the crowd was active. All items (mostly glass) went quickly and then she walked around the shop to restock her cart. There’s one way to move stale merchandise! Everyone was happy – that was my favorite part.
Back out into the wintry weather to walk a short two blocks back to our closest U-bahn station. Two stops and we exited at the Poccistrasse station. A short half block walk and we were on Lindwurmstrasse where we found a gem! Bric-A-Brac. The four of us looked like a Christmas post card of children with our cold noses pressed to the windows dreaming of owning the goods in this packed store. Bummer – it was closed! We could see a shopkeeper sitting at the counter doing paper work but even our gloved taps on the window and pathetically frigid smiles wouldn’t budge her to open the store and allow us to browse. She simply shook her head, no, without lifting it from her work!
In spite of that – I will be back! I looked to be an amazing “picker’s delight!” Stacks and stacks of true vintage, antiques and well, bric-a-brac! See you soon Bric-A Brac!
And our last stop before heading back to the train station and the warmth of the train cabins for our return ride home was a vintage lovers dream store, PICKnWEIGHT Kilo Store. Just as it’s name suggests all purchases are priced by weight. Items have a different weight price determined by their value. This place is packed with mostly vintage clothing, shoes and textiles. A huge variety of mostly good quality items. I didn’t find anything that I couldn’t live without but I’m glad we took the time to check this place out. Another fun twist on thrift or resale store shopping experience.
We were cold and tired from our day of walking the city but it was a fun time. There are so many more shops that we didn’t get to. Plenty more for next time. If you are ever in Munich be sure to add a day of thrifting to your agenda. It is very walkable city with a unique resale shop flavor. No rental car or Uber required, or probably even allowed!
My most fun thrifting experience of this trip occurred shortly before I left to come home. We had called a resale shop in Kempten called Fairkauf Allgaeu, to see if they were open between the holidays. We got an answering machine. They were not. Within seconds we got a return call from the shop owner who called us back using caller ID. My friend told him that we wanted to stop in and shop and that there was a lady from the US who was leaving to go home and she really wanted to see the store. He offered to open the shop up to us for a private shopping experience while he worked on his books. We jumped at the opportunity!
We high-tailed it over there the next day.
My only disappointment was that all of the Christmas decorations that I was hoping to find were already packed away. In spite of this I did pick up a very unique wooden Samourai smoker (15 euro) and also a vintage Christmas angel music box, that had escaped his eye when storing the items away, tucked in a glass cabinet (25 euro). I placed them on the counter for safe keeping until I was done shopping.
I’m not quite sure whether or not it was because he saw that I was buying items of a bit more value or not, but he soon offered to bring out the boxes of Christmas items that he had just packed away! I was most gracious – and thrilled!
I spent the next hour sifting through newspaper wrapped Christmas items and totally filled his counter with my finds. What do you think? Music box, smokers, nutcrackers, nativity figures, vintage cardboard angels and more! By the time I was done my purchases totaled ninety-four euros. He offered to let me have it all for eighty euros! Then I found a couple of miniature harmonicas for ten euros each that rounded me up to an even hundred euros. My daughter spent ten euros, my friend spent fifteen. One hundred and twenty-five euros in sales. Not bad for a day that he was not even open. Happy shopper – happy shop owner. He tantalized me with a mention of the stacks of boxes of new (used) merchandise that he still has to put on the floor! I am hitting that shop up early on my next visit!
As you can see, this wasn’t the typical idyllic Christmas in Germany that you see on Christmas and post cards. It’s Christmas in Germany my way! A fun holiday with my daughter and her family, great friends and great finds. A perfect Bavarian Christmas. Frohe Weihnachten.
See you all next year!
August, 2017, what a great month for flea market and resale shop hunting in Bavaria, Germany. I hit up as many floh markts (flea markets), second hand shops and antique shops as my daughter and her friends agreed to. I thank them for hauling me around!
All venues were within a one hour drive from my base camp of my daughter’s home. Common themes throughout were: all things religious in this Catholic State; traditional and current fashion wear; outdoor activity clothing and paraphernalia; glass, pewter, porcelain and clay mass krugs (beer steins) of every size, shape and age; fine crystal; cow bells; framed vintage crewel artwork; and of course…Tupperware! One really gets a feel for the culture of this area as well as current trends just by observing things for sale at its markets.
This blog will simply list the markets or shops that I visited, share photos and give you relative distance from the city of Kempten, in the Allgaeu region of Bavaria that I call home when in Germany. This region in the foothills of the German Alps is ripe with dairy farm communities dotting autobahn and winding country road routes. Pictures do a much better job of describing than I do so I will let you travel along with me through photos! Enjoy the tour.
Should this ride-along have you dreaming of a like adventure for yourself, please let me know. I’d love to help you plan your own up front and personalized trip.
Obertsdorf Floh Markt – 30 minutes
This market is detailed in another blog post. Check it out.
Memmingen Floh Markt – 30 minutes
Kaufbauruen Floh Markt – 30 minutes
This market is detailed in another post. Check it out.
Woltenhofen Thrift Store – 4 km from Kempten city center
No photos from here this day. I didn’t see anything that I could live without but my daughter found a brand new pair of boys Nike soccer shoes for 4 euro.
Woltenhofen Floh Markt – 4 km from Kempten city center
This market is detailed in another post. Check it out. My “golden” find at this market is the gold watch. I made a nice resale profit on it while still on my trip!
Sontheim Floh Markt – 35 minutes.
This is the same flea market that I bill as the both the smallest and largest flea market that I’ve been to in Bavaria…3 different years. Always worth the drive.
Bad Worishofen “Garage Sale” – 40 minute drive
This was a rare sale held in the seller’s barn buildings. There were 4 rooms of items to wander through. We got a flyer to this sale from one of our previous stops.
Bayerisher Floh Markt – 45 minutes
See previous post dedicated to this day.
Kempten Thrift Store – Allerhand – Kempten city center
Two different resale shops. One on the top floor and one on the lower level. On this day I found a leather purse for 17 euro. I might keep that one!
St. Mang Second Hand Shop – 5 km from Kempten city center
Antik Hof Antique Shop & Restaurant – 40 minute drive
A fun visit on a Sunday when almost everything in Germany is closed.
Fussen Floh Markt – 30 minute drive
This is only minutes away from the famous Neuschwanstein Castle that you see in many Bavarian photos. Make a day of it and take in the castle while in Fussen. Well worth the visit.
Oberstdorf Floh Markt – 40 minutes
Fischen Floh Markt – 30 minutes
Take some time to visit the World Ski Jumping Championship site that is adjacent to the parking lot that hosts this floh markt.
After a marathon morning of flea marketing in the hills of Bavaria, my daughter and I stopped for lunch before heading home. As we were pulling out of the driveway of the restaurant, there it was – a beacon in the field shining bright with possibilities – a new thrifting adventure. A relatively nondescript but huge roadside sign invited passersby to the 2017 Bayerischer Flohmarkt. As luck would have it, this huge market was scheduled for an upcoming weekend. Penciled into our mental calendar we made an immediate decision to be there.
The magnitude of the market was surmised instantly by the one kilometer long string of red and white “no parking” tape flagging both sides of the roadside far in advance of the event. It was still a week away and parking prohibitions were already clearly defined.
We noted the dates, times and location. We memorized our surroundings and the exit along the autobahn that would lead us back to this field of dreams.
Once home, an internet search revealed that this annual affair is held in the expanse of field adjacent to where we had lunch. Per the website: http://www.bayerischer-flohmarkt.de/index_nn.html 2016 attendance exceeded more than 20,000 visitors and over 500 vendors . Surely there will be thousands of new treasures to explore.
With the weather gods on our side that day we left our umbrellas and jackets at home. We de-layered and headed out for an early start.
We were not alone! A mere half hour after opening and the line to enter the field parking lot spilled out onto the roadway and we stop-and-go’ed our way to the bowels of the grassy field-turned parking lot.
On a positive note, we were close to the exit for an easy get away at the end of the day!
We made our way through the maze of now familiar red and white tape, designating this time, a pedestrian path to the hallowed grounds. With policed safety, we wove our way to the grand entrance.
Let the thrifting begin!
This market was a mix of just about everything. There were sellers of discount/liquidation new items, antiques and collectibles dealers and families cleaning out excess. There was leather everything, lots of glassware and the usual Tupperware, both new and orphaned parts.
Some booths were professional while others were slipshod.
The day turned blistering hot and the sun beat down. Bargaining became easier as the temperature withered both sellers and buyers. Usual end of the day negotiating realized a few bargains.
I was particularly drawn to a single vendor.
I returned several times to memorize her booth.
I loved her style. She was selling a mix of what I would describe as steam punk fashion accessories. Frilly and laced parasols, oversize bedazzled sunglasses, scarves and every style of feathers, rhinestoned hair pieces and, especially sought out on this blistering heat day, hats…lots of sunhats! Her booth was always crowded and she was always selling…a lot!
I want to be her!
Hot and exhausted but happy with our journey, we called it a day after 6 hours of scouring the grounds. I managed to bag some Easter decorations, a pair of Converse tennis shoes, a Minnie Mouse mug, 2 antique pocket watches and a couple of Ed Hardy tops. Total investment, 51,50 euros. I hope to realize enough profit on these items for a nice down payment on my return trip to the market next year!
I am thrilled that we happened upon that huge sign along the road. Our day trip to this large flea market in a stunning area in the foothills of the German Alps turned into a promise to make this an annual event for me.
How about you?
If it sounds intriguing, let me know. I can help you plan your trip to the Bayerisher Flohmarkt 2018 in Turkheim, Germany.
Mark your calendar now, August 11, 12 and 15, 2018. I’ve provided a map for you in case you need it! If you prefer a tour guide, I’ll remember the way.
Flea market, flohmarkt, brocante, whatever the language, it has one meaning to thrifting enthusiasts around the world. It is a call to fun and adventurous sourcing for resale stock. Picking thrills abound in halls, fields and roadways in southern Germany. Bavaria, is ripe with opportunity for prime summertime picking.
When you imagine the picturesque countryside and Alpine peaks of southern Germany usually images of rolling hills, edelweiss on mountain tops and castles pop into your head. For me, it’s a dream of flea market signs dotting our scenic routes around Bavaria. My dreams came true during my most recent trip to visit my daughter.
Since her move to a small village in the foothills of the Alps sixteen years ago I have been to many flea markets (Flohmarkt) in Germany and surrounding European countries.
I now yearn for the familiar neon signs that advertise pop up local bargain hunting meccas every time that we are out and about. My heart quickens with each billboard invitation to a local market. My daughter dutifully slows our journey and appeases my passion.
Little did I realize when I scheduled a month-long stay with her in August 2017, that we would find so many opportunities to pick Bavarian fleas. I hope you enjoy this chronicle of our flea hopping adventures. Some were intentional, others pure luck.
We usually plot our strategy with the help of the local monthly periodical, the “Allgeauweit.” (http://allgaeuweit.de) In the calendar section of this monthly periodical is a listing of known local markets. Imagine my excitement when I perused the magazine online and saw three sales scheduled the first week of my visit. Not only could we treasure hunt on the weekend, but there was also a rare mid-week sale advertised.
Calendars were marked and shortly after my arrival, we were off! I don’t know who was more excited, my nine year old grandsons or me. Their mother, the indulgent daughter, our chauffeur extraordinaire.
Stop 1 – Wednesday. August 2
Oberstdorf, a gorgeous tourist town sitting at the base of the beautiful mountain peak, Nebelhorn, in the Bavarian Alps.
Literally at the base of the mountain, filling a parking lot and adjacent to a lush grassy landing field for daring hang gliders, beckoned our first field of treasures.
Nothing really caught my eye at this sale but the backdrop of the mountain grandeur and the bustle of the tourist village, as always, brought a calm to my soul.
The heat of the August sun and alluring scents from village restaurants provided a welcomed respite to quench our thirst and palettes.
The stroll through the quaint village alone is always worth this 30 minute drive.
Stop 2 – Friday, August 4
Memmingen A short 20 minute drive led us to a grassy field sprawling with a rare Friday market. This is my kind of flea market. Mostly local folks hoping that their cast offs will speak to the heart of someone with a penchant for reuse, or in my case, resale! There were a few “professional” dealers as well as a couple of charity vendors trying to support their local cause.
A pair of brand new converse tennis shoes? Thank you. I think I will take those for 5 euros.
Oh my! Look at the mid century modern vintage typewriter! Hmmm, I wonder how much that would fetch in the US online resale community? For 10 euro, I accept the challenge. I’ve got lots of room and weight in my suitcase at this early point in my journey. It’s not really a common brand in the US, but I keep in mind the fact that the keys alone can be re-purposed as jewelry, desk accessories, key chains, etc. Someone will find more value than my 10 euros purchase price in this beautiful peacock blue conversation piece, if even for the parts.
I bargain for a couple of headbands for my grand daughters and a beautiful hand beaded belt that hopefully some bride will find as the perfect accent to her wedding gown. I’ll be listing the belt for resale on Etsy soon!
And of course, souvenirs for the men in my life. Who wouldn’t love an inflatable beer stein advertising a local German beer, perfect for tubing adventures down the river near our vacation home in northern Michigan? Well, maybe a couple will end up being offered for resale, but I’ll have extras. Two euros each? I’ll take five please…and danke!
Stop 3, 4, 5 and 6! – Saturday, August 5
3 – Kaufbauren This market is hosted mostly by local residents and a few full time dealers. Today’s market was held in the outdoor perimeter of this multi purpose indoor go kart track building. In the winter, the market moves indoors and the building bursts from the seams with vendors escaping the cold winter and snow and satiates the thrifting appetite of antsy buyers going through off season flea market withdrawal!
Today, in steaming heat and blaring sunshine, vendors snaked their tables around the perimeter and down any driveway, path or parking lot, anywhere that a table would balance on the stony terrain. While I did see a couple of “professional” vendors, most vendors were locals willing to bargain cheaply so that they wouldn’t have to pack up so many items at the end of this sultry day.
Early browsing is laden with household discards, clothes of all stages of wear and tchotchkes of every size, shape and decor. There were lots of souvenirs from trips long forgotten as well as old linens embellished with beautiful embroidery by the hand of a long forgotten relative.
I seize the opportunity to inherit a couple of someone else’s family heirlooms. My first purchase, a drop-dead gorgeous hand embroidered evening bag for 5 euros. I ponder the resale value of this same millennial vendors vintage fur trimmed hat. I decide it’s worth the risk and opportunity. Another 5 euros and the deal is sealed.
Several more twists and turns along the gravely path and we make our way to the furthest parking lot area where I find my next couple of treasures. A pair of Butterfly Twists folding ballerina flats, brand new in the box for 2,50 euros. Sticker price, 29,99 euros. I should realize a good resale return on this purchase.
Our last stop and I add to the profits of my daughter’s friend. Among her tables sprawling with liquidation, new-with-tag dresses, electronics and Made in China toys, I find a vintage bridal veil, still in the original box. Ten euros buys me this delicate netting veil with matching floral crown. Surely this will be a hit for a future bride in the US!
4 – Kempten My go-to stop during each visit to the Allgaeu.
This market is held frequently and usually in the stalls of a multiplex of re-purposed old cow barns. On this warm and sunny summer day most vendors are outside. A few of the “regulars” escape the heat and tend their monthly indoor stands. Some spaces are empty and a few locals spread their goods on make shift tables and clothes racks and even the floor.
My only score in Kempten was a beautiful crystal vase for one euro. It was just the right size to hold a bouquet of flowers that I bought earlier in the day for a birthday gift for our friend.
And, I was on a hunt this day. A very long shot, but still ogling the masses with my eyes peeled for any sighting of a previous regret.
A word here about regrets! When you see something that speaks to your soul…buy it! Don’t walk away from the opportunity, you will likely not get a second chance.
On a previous visit to this same market in June I saw a most unusual and intriguing “friend”. It gave me thought long enough to consider resale value, luggage size and weight availability to take back to the US and practicality. I left that trip only with the memory of the find and a photo of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Common sense over impulse drove my decision that day. I live to regret it.
So…fast forward to this visit. I scoured the market to no avail. My alien encounter proved to be a missed opportunity. No sign of him this time. I had broken my own cardinal rule when I saw him the first time. Rule #1 – When you see something and it speaks to you, buy it! Figure out the logistics later. Still kicking myself on this one.
5 – Thrift Shop Stop With a couple of hours to while away until our final Flohmarkt of this day was to open, we stopped in at a local resale shop. As local standards go, this is quite a large shop with a good variety of wares. I always head first to the cabinet items, the items considered most valuable and the most highly priced. Nothing really peaks my interest. I consider a couple Swarovski figurines, but priced too high for my liking. I really have no interest in old vanity sets or crystal glassware at this time.
My favorite in this shop is the basement where the clothing, hats, shoes, boots and linens can be found. This area is a digger’s paradise. The racks are jam packed. If inclined, you can spend considerable time to bagging a bargain. There is one section devoted specifically to local traditional trachten (German clothing). Find your size and take your pick — dirndls, lederhosen, socks, shoes hats. Oktoberfest is coming up soon. Be sure to get yours while the selection is good and at a fraction of the cost new!
Our only find here was a good one, however. A like-new pair of Nike indoor soccer shoes for one of my grandsons for 4 euros. Even the cashier was surprised that he had priced them so low.
6 – Waltenhofen Our final stop of this exhausting but exhilarating day was found in a small village neighboring the larger city of Kempten. This is the type of flea market where deals can be found. This market was held in the driveway of a local building supply company. It was mostly unadvertised. Even most locals did not know of this one. The only way that we found out about it was through our friend, who was selling there that day. It was apparently only advertised in the locally distributed only, small village weekly periodical.
Vendors lined the sides of the covered driveway. The lucky ones were shaded from the late day blistering sun. We arrived immediately upon opening and there was little early competition.
Amid the few shoppers that were there was a trio of rude and obnoxious pickers on a mission…the kind who give us all a bad name. These three men darted from table to table, inconsiderate of others in their search, interrupting, loud, obnoxious, rude, reaching over others in front of them to grab their target. Not to be deterred, I skirted their obvious path and forwarded myself a few tables ahead of them. That’s where I found my jewel for this sale.
I bagged perhaps my best find of this market season, an antique ladies wristwatch. The vendor, a young woman who saw no use for her grandmother’s heirloom gold watch. Realizing that it might have some value since she knew it was gold, her first offer price was 25 euros. I countered with a respectful 20 euros offer and a sale was consummated. It even came in a watch box because it was “valuable!” I out-foxed my competition and in a polite and honorable manner, bagged probably my most profitable item.
There was a lot of children’s clothing and toys and kitchenware on almost every table along with an abundance of out of season sports equipment and gardening supplies. This sale was 100% local folk.
I again, broke my #1 sourcing rule and add a regret to my growing list. I inquired about a pair of googles, perhaps for resale to the steampunk crowd in the US, only to be informed that they were ski goggles. So as not to reveal my true intent (which is my chosen MO), I didn’t show interest, including not asking the price. I walked away! There! I’ve done it again! Broken my own rule. On our drive home I was kicking myself for not even inquiring about the price. We tried to phone our friend who was selling at the sale, with the hope that she would check them out and possibly pick them up for me. No answer! Uggg…another lost opportunity. Note to self: You have three weekends of flea markets left during this trip. DO. NOT. DO THAT AGAIN!
After hitting up four markets on this day, plus our previous weeks journey, our three day flea-a-palooza cames to an end. Exhausted, hot and ready to kick back and rejuvenate, we head home knowing that the next day we trek to what has become an annual sale for us. Once billed as the smallest flea market that I’ve ever attended, to one of the largest local community markets that I’ve attended, my anticipation is suppressed only by my temporary exhaustion from the past days of whirlwind thrifting.
More to come in my next blog on the Sontheim Flea Market day.
June 10, 2017
Castello del Trebbio, Pontassieve, Italy.
I thought that I was going to tour a castle and buy some local Chianti. The lesson I learned will forever change how I travel.
“When you taste a wine, you taste it with all of your senses. You learn something from every sense and then put it all together for a full appreciation.”
From the different wines that we sipped…and later bought…to the surrounding beauty of the area bounty, I made a conscious decision to see, smell, hear, taste and touch to capture a full appreciation of every moment of the adventures that I am blessed to experience. This, we were taught, is how to appreciate fine wine.
This morning, sitting on the sun shielded porch of our villa in Borgo San Lorenzo area of Tuscany I am taking a moment to soak in every sense…
Set your goals, save a bit from each profitable sale and begin the dream to travel to flea!
Have you ever dreamed of traveling to visit flea markets…anywhere?
If so, then here is a list of considerations to make sure that you have the smoothest possible, most pleasantly memorable experience.
While not exhaustive, this gives you a pretty good idea of how to plan for a trip. It may sound daunting, but don’t get overwhelmed. Start with your dream and take one step at a time to make that dream a reality. Above all, have fun. Embrace the journey. Savor the memories.
New Orleans Flea Markets…More Than Parades, Beads And King Cakes
When you think New Orleans and Mardi Gras…think FLEA MARKETS, not just jazz, Hurricanes (drinks that is) and Monday morning regrets!
Neighboring the streets where you hear shouts of “Hey Mister, throw me some beads”, sit some of the most fascinating flea markets that further enrich the culture of New Orleans. If like me, you enjoy experiencing more than the large tourist attractions when you travel, you will love going to the flea markets in New Orleans.
Found in a pre-vacation online search for “fleas” to include in our annual trip to NOLA, I was lured to see first-hand why no one wanted me to know about the “flea market under the bridge” in this post by Michael Patrick Welch. http://www.vice.com/read/the-hidden-new-orleans-flea-market-no-one-wants-you-to-know-about Why did no one want me to know about this flea market? I had to see for myself.
Algiers Flea Market
This hidden market takes shelter from often formidable New Orleans weather conditions in the shadows of the West Bank Expressway bridge complex, just over the Mississippi River and across from New Orleans city center.
As flea market early risers, at dawn, my husband and I were privileged to land a street side parking spot on the narrow gravel path that encircles the trio of “sections” which define the boundaries of this sub-culture. When we left the market that day, we realized what a prize we had in this early-bird gift! The streets later became snarled with vehicles of all sizes trying to shimmy into any space in the small confines of inadequate parking.
Stalls were make-shift and sparse with inventory and vendors upon our arrival. Typical discounted liquidation specials such as cheap kitchen wares, pirated CDs and DVDs, knock off purses, shoes and “high-end brand name” blue jeans, were available in the perimeter booths of the mini market village.
Resellers of over-priced garage sale type finds anchored a couple prime corner spots. I was able to spot a rare piece or two of identifiable collectible glassware…also significantly overpriced. I did buy a rhinestoned New Orleans baseball cap for myself because it was different and much cheaper than anything at the souvenir shops on Bourbon Street.
It came however, with a no-price-bargain option! I wanted it. Price paid.
While initially disappointed at the all-too-common flea market, mass produced, Made in China offerings, there seemed to be a “soul” to this venue that kept us intrigued. It didn’t take us long to discover the heart of the market where the food vendor stalls are centered.
Ever mindful of flattened cardboard boxes and slices of plywood underfoot that protected us from mud, we slowed our way through to the delicious scents of sizzling authentic Central American cuisine. Sweet and savory smells sucked us further into the vortex of delectable aroma through a cavernous maze of slippery pathways. All pathways let to a palette of ethnic foods to tempt even the most discerning appetite. Meats, vegetables, baked goods…all regional fare with requisite condiments.
Though we passed on trying any of the local hot-off-the-grill dishes, the delicious scents of the sizzling fares lured us to walk back through the food “court” a second time. OK, not lying…we did get a churro on our second pass!
Encaged by the four walls of the flea market village is treasure and bargain hunt paradise. A sectioned-off area, with only 2X4 studs defining each space, revealed a cavern of tightly packed stalls with bins of wares to dig through. Single dangling light bulbs illuminate the way. If you are a “digger”, you hit pay dirt. Dimly lit and crowded, this area offers the best bargains. Clothing, tools, alligator heads…take your pick and name your price!
Upon exit, what could make your New Orleans local flea market any more authentic than a couple of freshly baked mini sweet potato pies sold from a cooler! Oh yes, we did! And I’m telling you…they were DELICIOUS.
We didn’t buy too much but we definitely satiated our thirst for a new adventure. Soul wins out over finds at this one.
Nearing the noon hour, the crowds had swelled, the vendors now manned most of the rickety wooden shacks and the market was in full Saturday morning tilt. We were happy that we had made it a point to visit this flea market.
Still not quite sure why it’s labeled a flea market that that no one wants you to know about. The people sure seemed inviting and welcomed an obvious tourist. I would highly recommend a visit to this flea market. Though we didn’t find any unique treasure that we couldn’t live without, and while tightly spaced, old and definitely in need of more sturdy tenting, the Algiers Flea Market is a cultural experience that is sure to give you a glimpse of life in New Orleans that you won’t find in any travel brochure.
Jefferson Original Flea Market…or Never Judge a Flea by Its Building
While time did not allow us to take in more than a couple of flea markets during this year’s trip to NOLA, we decided to stop into one that we passed going to and from our hotel into the city. I was in need of some clear plastic to protect my Mardi Gras parade regalia and was sure that I would find it here. Certainly this highway storefront with yellow weathered peeling paint would offer me a fine selection.
Boy, was I surprised! It turned out to be an amazing antique mall, packed to the rafters (literally) with every imaginable antique and collectible you could imagine. And a personality that is truly New Orleans!
With only one foot inside the front door, all thoughts of looking for visqueen vanished and were instantly replaced with “treasure hunt” mentality! Digger bliss!
Once adjusted to the dim interior, my eyes began darting everywhere, landing only momentarily on any single item before another more succulent find came into focus. Peeking down long and narrow, booth after booth, all I could see was another nook or cranny packed ceiling high with antiques and collectibles…both regional and international. There really seemed to be no end to each booth.
While it was like a typical antique mall set up, what I LOVED about it was the very obvious New Orleans flavor. Whether it was because of Mardi Gras week or not, everything NOLA was front and center…as well as buried deep within. Purple, green and gold sparkled at every turn. Jesters jeered from creepy old masks. Old carnival posters, costumes, beads, icon collectibles, crawfish boil pots…you name it. If it hinted of New Orleans, it was here somewhere.
It bears repeating…these booths were PACKED! There was one area of the three floors that we inched our way through, where a vendor was trying to get to a particular item and had his goods lined up out in the narrow hall way just so he could get a ladder in to reach it!
Though packed, it never felt junky or dirty. A bit dusty smelling, as you would expect, but never dirty.
I did find a couple of items that I could not live without. M negotiating skills failed me to even a penny lower in price with either of my two buys here, but I wanted the items, so again…paid the price. I respect the deal.
My hands-down favorite booth was the booth of Madam Mel, Mystic Reader, and Spiritual Advisor.
Perhaps because I have never encountered such a unique experience in an antique mall, or just because of the unusual display, this booth really fascinated me. Madam Mel sat serenely in her dimly lit booth surrounded by voodoo dolls, gris-gris (talisman) and ju-jus. Though I initially did not notice her silent presence, once I initiated a conversation, she lifted my spirit and brightened the day. I was intrigued by her spirit. She was extremely friendly and eager to share her story with my husband and me. She explained to us that many of the dolls in her booth were salvaged from Bourbon Street locations when the original Voodoo shops there closed down, others she had made herself and uses in her practice. She is an active practitioner. It was fascinating to listen to her stories. She eagerly offered her contact information for anyone who wishes to reach out to her: MdmMel@aol.com I still don’t know much about her practice or science, but I do know that Madam Mel has a kind soul and was gracious with our request to hear her story.
The historical influence of voodoo to New Orleans culture is everywhere in this great city, including the flea markets. This is just another example of the rich history and culture that makes up the fabric of NOLA and her diverse retail industries.
The next time you visit New Orleans and travel Airport Drive to get to or from the airport, save some time in your itinerary to stop at the Original Jefferson Flea Market at 2134 Airport Drive, Kenner, LA. You will be glad you did. Friendly people, great finds and lots of New Orleans history.
I hope you have enjoyed my view of a couple of the great flea markets in New Orleans. I hope to add more when we visit next year. If you have any questions or would like more information about our travels to flea markets in the US and Europe, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Happy flea travels,
“D” is more than the 4th letter of the alphabet. It is the “313”, the “Motor City”, the city the French founded and the auto industry built.
Detroit is hometown to Kid Rock, Madonna, Eminem, Walter Reuther, Tim Allen, Gilda Radner, Lily Tomlin, Dianna Ross and the Supremes, Stevie Wonder, Tommy Hearns, Joe Lewis, Mitch Albom, The White Stripes, Detroit Lions football, Detroit Tigers baseball, Detroit Red Wings hockey… and me!
Call it what you may, but don’t call this Renaissance city and its neighboring communities a crumbling, decaying metropolis with nothing to offer but crime and corruption. Don’t assume that it is nothing more than what is sadly portrayed in media around the world.
We are proudly, Detroit!
Hold up your hand. Michiganders use our hands to show you where we live! We sit at the base of your thumb, in our “mitten” state.
Detroit is home to some of the most successful global corporations. We proudly exult our heritage at the Detroit Institute of Arts http://www.dia.org/ , the Detroit Historical Museum http://detroithistorical.org/ , the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History www.thewright.org , and the world famous “The Henry Ford” museum http://www.thehenryford.org/museum/index.aspx . Each of these is a living institution to preserve the accomplishments of our great city.
But did you know…that beside our famous forefathers, cultural gems and beloved sports teams, Detroit and her surrounding suburbs are also home to some of the most fabulous flea markets, garage sales and vintage finds, anywhere? I travel flea markets around Europe, as well as frequent the ones in the “D” often, and our fleas and thrifting opportunities stand up to the world’s best competition for great finds and cultural adventures!
To begin your journey, head to our ground zero. Standing in the same spot where the French landed in 1701 to settle our fine city, is the Detroit riverfront area http://www.detroitriverfront.org/ . Ample parking in the area allows you to begin a day with fresh air amid joggers and leisure walkers along the Detroit River boardwalk, Riverwalk. http://www.detroitriverfront.org/ Take in your first breaths of all that Detroit has to offer. Look south and you see our Canadian neighbor, Windsor, Ontario. Yes, in Detroit you go south to enter Canada! Once welcomed, hop in your car for a short drive north, east or west and you will find a continual path of flea markets and some of the best garage sale opportunities in the US. Let your flea market adventures begin…Detroit style.
Each year when I begin to mark my calendar of “must-do” treasure hunting events, I discover that I likely won’t have time to leave Michigan! Nor, will I likely even have time to take in all of the fabulous flea markets in “Pure Michigan” http://www.michigan.org , in a single year. Decisions, decisions…which ones will make it to the top of my list this year?
Nestled squarely inside the city limits you will find:
This smaller event boasts, not only a great flea market opportunity, but also guided tours of historic Fort Wayne. Military history, antiques and an array of collectibles to pawn through. How’s that for a fun day in Detroit?
Daily and year round, but go on Saturday to get the full market experience. http://www.detroiteasternmarket.com/
This, city-within-a-city, bustling weekend market is centered around sheds of fresh Michigan produce, farm products, plants and products. Around the periphery of the food stalls you will be entertained by local street musicians and find the resurrection of early Detroit architectural charms now housing second hand shops, restaurants, wine, cheese and fresh meat and fish warehouses. Creak upon the wooden floors of antique, boutique and specialty shops as you step out of the forest of live nursery foliage, and imbibe in the pleasures of the unique wares around the square that defines the boundaries of the market. Ride the antique pulley elevator to the top floor of the cheese shop and pick your favorite European delicacy, seasonal decoration or Detroit souvenir.
Whatever you do…don’t eat before you come here. Whether fighting your olfactory senses for an “Oh My God Burger”, one pound of the perfectly marbled beef, sizzling on the open pit in front of you, or just nibbling on free samples hawked along your stroll through the open air market by artisan epicureans, your food choices won’t get any easier as you try to justify hunger vs. gluttony. Oh look…a beignet food truck!
Starting early in the morning? I recommend a Bloody Mary at Vivios!
http://www.viviosbloodymary.com/ It just puts you in the right mood.
This is not a flea market, but an annual “garage” sale from the homes in an historic village within the City of Detroit. I list it here because it is one of my annual favorites and an unforgettable experience.
I love the atmosphere of the old Detroit mansions in this tree lined neighborhood tucked in a pocket of Detroit where many of Detroit’s early movers and shakers, automotive and manufacturing industry founders, planted their roots. Occasionally there is an opportunity to step inside the majesty of one of these solid oak trimmed, wet plaster walled homesteads, to ascend to the wide planked oak stairs to the third or fourth level among the memories of residents past, and live briefly in a moment of high society. Rub your palm over the bald patina of the open staircase. The air is thin up here, but some real treasures can be unearthed if you can accept the challenge.
Listen to the song of fine crystal as you carefully caress the rim of antique Waterford goblets set out on the massive dining room table and priced to sell. Blow the dust off of the old dental school yearbook of the former owner’s alma mater to get a glimpse of the heritage of a former homesteader. Gently fondle fine linen couture from days gone by. Step back in time while you contemplate once-in-a-lifetime purchase opportunities. Even the squeakiest wallets are silenced when you are enticed by the perfect find. You have preserved an historic treasure.
An absolute must-stop if you are in the area during the dates of the sale.
Get there early, take cash and tuck it in your fanny pack.
Sunday is flea market day in this historical market. Antiques, vintage, collectibles, fresh food and breads. There are many permanent vendors with a bit higher end booths as well as one-timers unloading Grandma’s estate. Price range is all over the place, so if your purse strings are a bit tight, you will still bag a bargain. Plan to spend all day in this trendy, fashionable northern suburb Sunday sale. Lots to pick through at the market including local micro-breweries and a gastronomes delight!
A short drive north of 8 Mile Road and you are only minutes away from Oakland County’s oldest and largest flea market in Pontiac. This indoor/outdoor market is huge. Bins full of tools, costume jewelry, flatbeds loaded with moving-sale furniture, NASCAR memorabilia, Avon, clothing, electronics, typical garage sale offerings. It’s all here. If your stomach is growling, whet your appetite with carnival fare! Lots of deep fried everything. Clean, safe, free and a fun way to spend a Saturday or Sunday picking! Check with the weather forecaster to take in both the indoor and outdoor offerings at Dixieland on fair weather days.
As you can see…the Motor City is hopping with opportunities to expand your flea market experiences as well as share our native appreciation for all that is Detroit.
Summers in the “D” for any flea market enthusiast, would not be complete without also devoting at least one weekend to the institution of “garage saleing”. Some of the best second hand bargains in the land are found in and around this area at local garage sales. I’m going to devote a future blog to these spring, summer, fall rituals.
Stop back soon and have your calendar handy. You, like me, will have a hard time trying to decide whether to freestyle or map your plan around the “D”. Gotta love those new apps that can help you navigate from sale to sale to pack as much into a day as your energy allows!
Thanks for stopping in. Get in touch if you will be swinging through the area and I’ll give you tips on my secret areas for the best thrifting!
See you again soon.