A Dozen Fleas, Please

In case you were wondering (and I'm certain you were wondering), I have been on the professional garage sale circuit since I was about 4 years old. It's true, the thrill of the quest for second-hand treasures runs in my blood. In general, I prefer second-hand to brand new. I don't know, there's just something about acquiring an item that already has a history. It's poetic somehow to embrace a thing from the past rather than having Crate & Barrel ship you the same damn thing everyone else already has. And, ya know, now that everyone is jumping on the sustainable wagon, re-usable stuff is a good thing. Uh-huh.

I don't know what all your childhood consisted of, but sizeable chunks of my childhood summers were spent mapping out weekend garage sale plans; circling the ads in the newspaper that sounded enticing. Going to the weekly flea market at the Peninsula Drive-In (which sadly, no longer exists). Spending an afternoon at an estate auction. Yep, I am no stranger to second-hand junk...er, stuff.

So, on Saturday I coerced Daniel to go with me to the Nashville Flea Market which is held at the fairgrounds every 4th weekend of the month. I'm ashamed to say that even though I've been living here for two and half years now, I have never been to the Nashville Flea Market. In fact, I haven't been to ANY flea market in a loooooong time. It's sad really.

Flea markets are hot, dusty affairs, and the Nashville Flea market was no exception. It was a very typical and satisfying flea market experience (btw, anyone know why they are called "flea" markets?). You had your local produce vendors and greenhouse vendors. You had your antique dealers and your brand-new sock dealers (why? why does EVERY flea market have booths of socks?). There were the junk dealers and food vendors. A veritable Portobello Road...well, sans the Calypso dancers.

I am particularly partial to the antique-y junk dealers. I like old bowls. Mmm hmm...old bowls...and pretty old plates. I also have a peculiar fondness for old hardware. Old hardware, you say? Yeah, you know, like old glass doorknobs or carved cabinet handles or brass drawer pulls or iron hinges. Call me crazy, but that's some good junk...er, stuff.

You just never know what you're gonna find at a flea market. Well, okay, you KNOW you're gonna find socks...but beyond that, you could stumble across anything. Like a large rusty mermaid statue...or an old Nazi sword...or a box full of 8-track recordings of Neil Diamond...or lovely old crystal chandeliers...or milk glass salt and pepper shakers...or a piece of Christmas Village (score!). Old shaving razors and teacups and postcards of places you've never seen. Stained cookbooks and petite candy dishes and political buttons of politicians you've never heard of. Clip-on rhinestone earrings and comic books and paintings of anonymous countrysides.

And, of course, socks...lots and lots of socks.

P.S. If I had been on the ball, I would've taken my camera and snapped a few fun photos of the flea market. Alas, I am rarely, if ever, "on the ball". Often I am running alongside the ball or tripping over the ball, but not actually ON the ball. Thus, no photos for your enjoyment. My sincere apologies.


boty said...

calypso dancers ;-)

boty said...


This is a jocular term for an open-air or street market for mainly secondhand merchandise, which would be the type of items that might be infested with fleas. The first flea markets were in Paris and they were called marché aux puces which translates to 'market with fleas'. Flea market first appeared in English in 1922 as a translation of the French market's name. Flea is of Germanic origin (fleah) and was not spelled flea until after 1550. A synonym is flea fair.

cathryn said...

Well, aren't you an informative little thing!? Flea markets are Parisian, thus culturally sophisticated, right?

mom said...

So what wonderful treasures did you find? Geez oh man Boty, thanks for the history lesson.

boty said...

i love wikipedia

Frank said...


It starts today and continues till Aug 10. World's Longest Yardsale, 654 miles long and goes right smack through the heart of Tennessee!