I go on a junket called “Girls’ Weekend” the first weekend of every October and the first weekend of May. The focus of the weekend is the flea market. There are tv shows about the adventure of “flea marketing”. In the shows, people find treasures, then change them up to resell for a profit. There are magazines dedicated to “flea market style” where market items are used to add bling, pop, or interest to a room or a remodel.
In my twenty years of shopping at the Kane County Flea Market in St. Charles, IL, I have found TREASURES! Every room of my house has…something from the flea market. I have old peeling, cloudy mirrors covering a wall in my bedroom. Stained glass covers the plainness of many windows. Moldings decorate entranceways. I ordered a custom oak table and 10 chairs for our dining room. Rusty bird sculptures, ornate decorative gates, and burgundy Japanese maples are scattered throughout the yard.
Although my purchases DO add “bling, pop, and interest” to my decorating…the items themselves, the buying stuff, aren’t the real reasons that the flea market pulls me in. As I walk along the rows of vendors standing by tchotchke-filled tables, I walk quickly, glancing up and down, glancing under the wooden farm table, looking behind the battered bookshelf. My eyes scan to the back of the booth where something, a treasure, may call my name.
I often walk by myself. Sandy usually pushes the stroller. This enables me to be a solo shopper. Sandy’s style is more meandering, leisurely, talky. She looks slowly through each booth. I enjoy the hum and jostle…being in the company of other anonymous seekers. There is a sense of potential, opportunity waiting to be grabbed. It’s like spring…a hope for what lies ahead.
I think this may be the very first time that I went to the flea market and didn’t buy ANYTHING (well, a hamburger, but that doesn’t really count). It was a miserable day, cold, windy, spitting rain, cloudy, grey. You get the idea. Even walking through the protected, and bustling sheep barn or the new bright and cheerful
expo building…nothing shouted, called, or even whispered: “buy me…look here…here I am…”
I saw a 20 something woman and her mom looking at a pair of white metal, swivel, garden chairs with matching footstools. They had just a touch of patina (rust) for interest. They would look GORGEOUS on a patio with some fresh red seat cushions! I picked up the price tag and smiled, “set $90”. What a steal! (I bet I could bargain them for $75.) But, the chairs hadn’t called to…me. The young woman glanced my way, I smiled and walked away. Ten minutes later, I walked by the vendor again and the set was gone.
Flea markets hold treasures for many, junk for others. There are people trying to make a few dollars, people trying to save a couple of bucks. But the real joy of a trip to St. Charles is that feeling of possibility, of hope, of potential. It is the journey…
…even if the destination of treasure is elusive.