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!
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!
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,