Went back to my roots Sunday and set up at the Wilmot Flea Market. It has been several years since I last set up at a flea market. While I love flea markets, the hardest part of setting up at them is getting up so early in the morning. I woke up at 4 a.m. Sunday and made it to Wilmot around 5:30 a.m.
I lucked out when one of the regulars in a reserved spot did not show up. I was given prime real estate by the front gate. I have never been located so close to the front! Thank you amazing people who run the Wilmot Flea Market.
I never know what to bring out to the flea market because there are so many factors to consider before making a final decision on inventory. For one, the sun. I can't let cards bake out in the sun. Also, plastic. Anything in plastic will melt in the heat. Then there is the lack of serious sports collectors at the flea market. I need to bring out items for the casual sports collector.
My usual flea market inventory consists of junk wax, junk sets, cheapy boxes, and publications. I also bring out typical flea market items like CDs, DVDs, VHSs, kids toys, kids books, stuffed animals, children's clothes, and random antiques.
The key to flea market survival is a tent. It sucks baking out in the sun and heat. I loaded my car Saturday night, including my trusty tent. I was able to fit eight tables and as many bins and boxes as my car would hold. I ran out of space and could not fit a few bins and boxes that I wanted to take with me. Turns out I needed those extra bins and boxes because I had empty table space.
While I love setting up at the flea market, one thing that has always bugs me -- other flea market vendors. I find that my neighbors always pinch my space. I was set up next to a middle aged couple that had a truck load of stuff and two spaces, which was not enough for them as they pinched the area behind my tables. I let it go but was aggravated. Why can't flea market vendors stay within the clearly marked boundaries?
Another thing I have observed over the past decade is that there are far less sports collectors at flea markets than there used to be. Back when I first started setting up at flea markets in the late 1970's, there were a ton of sports collectors coming out... probably because there were not a while lot of card shows and card shops back then. Selling sports collectibles at flea markets has never been quite as good as it was in the 1970's.
I had a lot of people walk by and check out my booth on this sunny, warm and humid day. I saw a couple of guys I figured would be there in Don and Bill. Thanks for stopping guys! Bill actually found some cards he needed in my cheapy boxes. Years ago, I had some regulars at this flea market but did not see them on this day. One guy recognized me from the Gonzaga show. I was able to let folks know about my July 3 show at the Salvation Army in Oak Creek. Several others, I learned, regularly visit my monthly show, which was nice to hear.
My first customers were buying stuff for their son. He had texted them a list of modern players he wanted like Mike Trout and Fernando Tatis, Jr., but I normally do not carry any modern cards. Vintage is my thing and at flea markets it is usually all junk years for me. Really nice folks and they ended up buying a whole mess of wax.
A fellow caked in tattoos bought a dozen or so packs of 1991 Pro Set football. Quite a lot of tattoos on this fine day. My favorite tattoo of the day was a large portrait of Dr. Teeth, the Muppet with the gold teeth that plays keyboards in the Muppet rock band. Another guy, no tattoo, bought a bunch of wax and a binder of 1994 Topps. A Cubs fan went through my cheapy boxes and pulled out all of the Cubs. I saw a ton of people wearing Cubs gear, which was surprising, I thought I would see a lot more Brewers gear. I am going to have to load up on more Cubs stuff next time.
That was about it for the sports stuff. The rest of my sales were Beanie Babies and children's books. Overall, sales were okay. I was hoping for more but I'll take it. I'd like to do the flea market again but with different stuff. The sun and the heat are such a problem and really limit the sports items I can bring out. Top loaders and binder pages just melt out there.
The middle aged vendors next to me did not seem to do all that well. The guy on the other side seemed to have a really good day. He had a wide variety of stuff from boat oars to armor to a giant Hulk Hogan doll which is the set up you really need at a flea market. I did not sell any of my CDs, DVDs and VHSs, I'm going to leave those at home next time. I sold a few items of children's clothing but I think I'll leave that stuff behind next time as well.
I have tons of toys that my kids have long since outgrown. I think I'll bring that stuff out. My son is also past his Funkopop craze. I blew a ton of dough on those things and will bring some out. I will see what else I can muster up. I've got more junk wax I can bring.
I am terribly sunburned today. I forgot to bring a hat! I had some sun tan lotion but it did not work very well. Overall, I had a good time. There is nothing like people-watching at the flea market. One thing I noticed was a lack of metal heads. What happened to all the metal heads? You know, the long-haired guys that walk around with Scorpions T-shirts. Where are those guys? I saw a lot of biker types. Dudes with really long beards. Also, a lot of really old folks. One older couple was screaming at each other in front of my booth. Great entertainment!
I am setting up Saturday June 19, 2021, at St. John's Lutheran Church, 401 St. John's Street, in Woodstock, Illinois. This will be my first time setting up at this show. I'm bringing out all of my baseball binders. Come on out!