June 5, 2008

What happened?

Growing up our yearly pilgrimage to the Shipshewana Flea Market was a much anticipated summer tradition. Up and out the door early, we’d use the hour and a half car ride to plot our wish list. As kids our wishes mostly ran toward, what I know now to be, cheaply imported goods. We didn’t come across a $3 or $4 T-shirt proudly displaying a logo that we didn’t like. We were also embarrassingly fond of scrunchies and all other manner of hair accessory. On the practical side we might even have picked out a new backpack for the upcoming school year.

While there were certainly a fair number of these types of booths they were greatly outnumbered by what you’d traditionally find at a flea market. Many booths were dedicated to selling what was one man’s junk to those who could see the treasure. You could find old windows, vintage plates, glassware, Pyrex, old signage, books, tools, and the list goes on and on.

Old windows

A good portion of the flea market was even dedicated to handcrafted items. You might find candles, hand painted pieces, and crocheted items or dried flowers and plants from local growers. One handiwork that sticks out in my mind were the booths selling handcrafted pine furniture. A lot of years found us taking home inexpensive yet quality bookcases, tables, or wall shelves for various rooms of the house.

Pine furniture

Many years have passed since our last family Shipshewana trip and the years, at least eight of them, have not been kind to the flea market. The number of booths selling true flea market wares were outnumbered at least 10 to 1 (but probably more) by imported goods. There were knockoff bags and purses, luggage, and a never-ending list of what you could get for just $1.


Then there was what I can only describe as the truly strange. What do scooters or all-terrain vehicles, sunroom enclosures, and in-person infomercials for car wax, mops, and jewelry cleaner have to do with a flea market? In my humble opinion, that would be nothing.

Flea market disgrace

Flea market, where have you gone?

No comments: