Monday, January 12, 2004

I've Had Three Hours of Sleep, Please Don't Ask Me For a Cute Title!

Personal, Comics, and Other Stuff

Keith and I went to the Flea Market last Saturday. It was the first time we'd gone in a while. There's a promo company based here in Louisville that puts on a large flea market at the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center every few weeks-usually around holidays. This was a larger show than usual: two wings of the fairground and four days in length.

In the East Wing, we just kind of cruised through without bothering to look at every booth or go down every aisle. I picked up a used Nanci Griffith CD, a couple of books, and some alt-country compilations. Since the East Wing building is the one that's always used for flea markets, there's a pretty standard group of folks who exhibit and sell there, and they're usually in the same spots every time. Even though we don't go every time, I've still got a pretty good idea about who is where. So we just kind of hit a few of the folks we always like to check out and then moved on.

One thing I did notice was the lack of comics in the East Wing. Usually there are two or three folks who have them and I can count on getting some battered, cheap Silver Age stuff. This time, though, the only one of the usual comics dealers was this guy that I really don't like because he's over-priced and obnoxious. A couple of the other dealers were there, and they had other stuff from their shops (models, anime, cards, action figures), but no comics. I wonder if comics have just become too much trouble to mess with? Is the back issue market in trouble too? Or in this day of ebay, is it more cost-effective to sell them online and schlep other stuff to the flea markets. I would think that if that were the case, one would just stay home and unload the cards and stuff on ebay too.

We took more time in the West Wing. Since it's not always used for flea markets, the dealers who set up there aren't as familiar. They also tend to be antique dealers, and I like looking at old shit. I keep deluding myself that one day I'll stumble across a Bringing Up Father book from the pre-Golden Age days of comics. Yeah right.

In this wing there were lots of comics-really old and much more recent. I picked up a Preacher trade, some Vertigo back issues, and a couple of Silver Age DC's. Another dealer had another Nanci Griffith CD, but wanted too much for it. I also got some cool religious statues for way too cheap from a guy who delighted in telling us about his trip to Prague. It was weird, but fun. Kind of like the whole day. The next two-wing flea market is scheduled for September. I think we're planning to go again.

A couple of thoughts about the day:

  • It's unbelievable to me the number of people who travel around to these things to set up their booth full of Avon products in a large room with LOTS of other people who have booths full of Avon products.

  • The "upscale end" of the flea market is sort of freaky: leather sofas, $100 lamps, and hot tubs??

  • It's surprising how many people still have tons of Beanie Babies for sale this long after that fad went bust. Of course, they're all going for something like 27 for a dollar.

  • I keep wondering what the next craze that's going to have both kids and adults going like the Beanies did, but I can't figure it out. Maybe that's for the better.

  • I got some fairly recent Vertigo issues for 50 cents or a buck each and there was a lot of recent DC and Marvel stuff available in that price range. I wonder if I'd be better off dropping what little mainstream stuff that's left on my pull list and getting it later and flea markets and cons for much better prices. I know I'd be a lot less disappointed in all the Vertigo titles I just dropped if I had been paying 50 cents for them instead of 3 bucks.

  • And of course, there was the inevitable five dollar copy of Marvel's Battlestar Galactica in totally shitty shape. I've always found this kind of thing to be sort of endemic among antique dealers. Sigh.

  • Ebay has really spoiled me. I looked at several things and could not help thinking about the nearly identical item I had gotten off ebay for much less, including postage.

  • Coolest item: An antique wall crucifixion scene with statues of Christ on the cross, Mary, etc on a wooden plaque. Attached to the bottom was a paper scroll on two little spools that wound with a small crank. As the crank turned, the scroll displayed pictures representing the various Stations of the Cross! (Note to self: Bring camera next time.)

  • Creepiest item: One dealer who sold those ugly-ass dolls that are supposed to be "realistic" (but actually look as if they're going to come alive in the middle of the night all demon-possessed and eat you and your family) had a granny doll that was about three feet tall and wore a stereotypical little old lady outfit, right down to the wire-rimmed glasses and sensible shoes. It was being displayed in a box that was exactly its size. It looked for all the world like a midget in a casket! Brrr…..

  • Strangest sight: There is apparently a new movement in the flea market world, at least among the antique dealers. I'm calling it "dumping." There were several dealers that rented two or three booths together and literally dumped a bunch of junk out on some tables and sold it for a dollar an item. And people were pawing through it like mad, in search of some unseen valuable item, I guess. Some of it was nice, but most of it was cracked or damaged. I bought a small plastic nativity set that was missing all the sheep.

    It seems to be the next big thing in flea market retailing. One dude didn't even bother to get any tables. He just poured all his shit out on the floor. Another went one better and didn't even bother to take the stuff out of boxes! But it didn't matter, because people were just pawing all over it. One guy had a short box of comics in the middle of his stuff. It was full of Image and Valiant glut crap. I had to resist the urge to ask if it was the comics that were a buck a piece or if the whole box was a one buck item!

  • There was a time when we wouldn't have missed a single flea market. My how times have changed….


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