Sure we’ve all heard the phrase, “it takes a village to raise a child” but what about “it takes a flea market to build a city.” As some of the largest cities in the world continue to grow and real estate continues to soar why is it that flea markets still maintain a home in the city centers? It all comes down to contributing to the cultural fabric of the city. Flea markets were never designed to be a place of big business but rather they were created as a mutually beneficial relationship amongst the dealers, buyers and community. They are each hinged upon one another and without one, how can the other exist?
Here are some of the key things that flea markets bring to a city.
1.) Community: The practice of going to an open air flea market is beyond just going to shop, it’s about building a sense of community and interacting with the people in your community. This is something that many cultures have diverted from that has resulted in a loss of true culture all together. Culture is built by the people, collectively living their lives and interacting amongst one another. Without this interaction, the interest in a place wanes and people look for other places that resonate with the basics of humanity that we all innately search for.
2.) Shopping Amongst the Elements: No matter the season, we were never meant to be confined to our homes and enclosed buildings all the time. Walking from one heated or air conditioning building to another was not something that our ancestors would have ever been accustomed to. And yet, this has become modern practice today. We need to be outside amongst the elements. Arguably, not only for general play or exercise, but to shop, explore and take in the surroundings. Things (including merchandise) look different in natural light. Wouldn’t you rather purchase a pair of sunglasses standing in the sunshine, where you’ll actually use them as opposed to indoors under harsh fluorescent lighting?
3.) People Supporting People: Thankfully, we’re all unique with different skills and gifts. We can’t all be farmers nor can we all be merchants or craftsmen. But, the ones that are, and that are good at it, should be encouraged to continue in their craft. Flea markets naturally foster this type of work. They praise the skills of people with these abilities and make their products easily accessible to the public. Imagine being a small farmer and having no place to sell your crops. Or an antique dealer with no place to sell to the everyday shopper looking to decorate their apartment. Or an artist without the platform to showcase their crafts to a wide consumer base. Flea markets were the original form of small business and they echo a familiarity that resounds at our core.
4.) Face to face Interaction: Many of us spend just about every day working from a computer screen and now with the influx and convenience of online shopping the shopping experience has diminished to a futile click of a mouse relying on a digital 3-D viewing of a pair of slacks. What happened to trying it on? Feeling the fabric against your skin? Interacting with the sales person who can give you advice? All of these things have been diminished to a click-to-purchase mentality.
5.) Variety of Merchandise: One of the best things about flea market shopping is you really never know what you’re going to find. Sure, it’s been said before and if you’ve been going to the same market for years, weekend after weekend, you may have a sense of what to expect but it’s beyond that. Dealers at flea markets don’t spend their weekdays lounging but rather preparing for the weekend. This means, traveling to auctions, estate sales and other public sales to find unique one-of-a-kind pieces of merchandise for shoppers. You’ll find merchandise that’s so old that it makes you feel like a kid again, or oddities that you have only seen at museums or vintage clothing that makes you feel like Jackie O or Marilyn Monroe. Regardless of what you find, you will find something that tickles your fancy if you’re willing to look hard enough.