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Uncovering Buried Treasure (standard:non fiction, 433 words)
Author: akAdded: Jun 22 2003Views/Reads: 2530/1Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
A sunny day at the local flea market provides a ripe environment for observations and musings about the electric, eclectic world of flea market vendors and the strange treasures they ply.

Uncovering Buried Treasure. Kira Pirofski BA, MA 

Flea markets are a world John Steinbeck would have loved.   They teem
with camaraderie, chivalry, and communal spirit.  It all begins at 
5:30am when the first vendors with truck loads of what some call junk, 
but vendors call precious cargo-income.  Slots are assigned, and the 
vendors park their jalopies and begin to unload.  Tables are assembled, 
and by 7: am, the parking lot is full of stalls.  Men with straggly 
beards sell rusted hammers, pliers, wrenches, and auto parts.  Wrinkled 
women sit patiently beside old linens, table clothes, and knick knacks. 
Younger, ambitious vendors carefully arrange their merchandise 
purchased from estate sales, garage sales, friends, and “connections.” 
Artisans who cannot afford juried shows sell handcrafted jewelry, hand 
knit sweaters, and hand made ceramics. 

At some point during the day, as the sun gets hotter and hotter, the
merchandise sells.  The piles of old and used goods carefully placed, 
begins to dwindle.  Wads of cash grow fatter and fatter. 

It's lunch time.  Vendors and sellers line up and purchase sizzling
hamburgers.  The sun's rays become even crueler, and the curbs begin to 
be lined with empty soda cans.  A lunchtime surge of shoppers boosts 
the mood of the vendors who are always on the look out for a sale. 

By 1oclock, veteran vendors begin to pack up.  The flea market ends at
3pm, and most sales have already been rung up.  Most of the shoppers 
laden with knick knacks have tired of looking, buying, and hauling 
their finds.  They have already picked over all of the great buys, and 
are ready to go home and take a shower.  Vendors know this, but some 
hang on to the bitter end. 

I vow to stay till the last shopper leaves.  Not eager for an additional
sale, but enthralled by the scene the vendors create.  They are a 
bizarre hybrid, a crossbreed of bohemian, gypsy and sharp eyed market 
capitalist. What might appear to be sold for a song is sold for a 
profit.  The shopper might bargain down, but the vendor knows their 
wares and has made provisions for the bartering. 

All the stalls are different. The array of goods varies in value, color,
and condition. Yet the vendors share a core; all are packrats.  Some 
are more successful and savvy in what they collect.  Others collect 
what appeals to them, and not the seller. 

Both types of packrats are pleased at the end of the day.  The high end
vendors have cleared 500-800 on this sunny Saturday.  The rest are 
content to sit outside, watch and sell sparingly. 


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