I have mentioned in previous blogs that my husband Tom and I are semi-quasi antique dealers. We have a booth at a local mall and occasionally exhibit at shows & flea markets in the Midwest. This past weekend we had a booth at a local antique flea market in Elkhorn, Wisconsin. It is one of the best in this neck of the woods....southeastern Wisconsin. A small town with a good size flea around 500 dealers on the county fairgrounds. As with most fleas you can find everything there...from herbs...to French lighting..to homegrown tomatoes...to framed Victorian bridal veils...to garden art....to breweriana..to vintage jewelry.......primitive items......to antique patriotic...to dress forms....to buttons & beads galore....to spools of antique lace and the list goes on and on...of course many of these items were in my own booth..lol.
People line up at the gate an hour or two before it starts ...when the gates open ..it is craziness. You can also get in early the day before during setup ...I believe the gate price is a lot higher at $25.00 per person...we get a lot of Chicago dealers coming in early for first pickings. They know Wisconsin prices are good prices to buy and then resell.
My husband and I set up the day before in our usual spot inside the small animal building. The weather forecast was iffy....wet and cold but we put on a brave face and carried on. I don't usually get a chance to shop early...too much to set up in our own booth which takes 8-9 hours. But I do take a peek when I take potty breaks...lol. I grab some cash and yell to my husband "I am going to the bathroom"..of course he is not stupid knowing this means "she is going to the bathroom BUT will also shop along the way & on the way back"....yes, he is not a stupid man.
This time I didnt have to go far for my first purchase....a life size lady mannequin right next door to our booth. The dealer who has been next to us the past few years gave me a real deal....she is a sweetheart. I was going to keep the mannequin and name her...but alas decided to put her in the mall for sale ....I have a lot of vintage clothes and hats so she will show off what I am selling while being for sale as well. I would prefer an older mannequin as this one is pretty current....very pretty but I like the look of a vintage mannequin.
Our booth at the mall and at flea markets is a real eye catcher....we get a lot of compliments from the customers...which is so nice when you are extremely tired, cranky and need a bath....lol I have several dress forms in which I dress with funky clothing and use the front of the forms to showcase my bracelets and necklaces. Of course at every show or flea customers want to buy the dress forms..I could have sold each one 2o times over. There are 5 full size ladies and 3 children plus an upper torso form. Not only do I display my handmade charm bracelets at the fleas but I specialize in vintage holiday items, vintage ladies and children clothing, lace...mega hats, Victorian scrap, ladies vanity items, teddy bear & accessories and old toys that need good homes.
On one of my few trips to the bathroom I did manage to sneak over and visit other dealers I knew and obtain a few bits and pieces for the bracelets...all from one vendor. He specializes in jewelry, vintage bits and bobs, buttons and beads. I pull up a chair and sort thru his boxes...it is amazing how fast time goes by. I carry a walkie-talkie so my husband can contact me if a customer has a question or he is bored and really needs to hear my voice. Of course, this happens frequently when I am in the bathroom stall doing important things....lol.
You meet the most interesting people at the fleas...a first time flea market visitor...she was in her 50's and she was thoroughly enjoying herself....even though she spent all her money she was just delighted to be there.... her eyes were glazed over, she was shaking and could barely talk and was so excited that I wanted to give her a hug. Then I met a man who was a bit strange...he told me he was an angel...OK I thought I will hear what he had to say. Needless to say he entertained himself more than he did my husband and I. After 20 minutes he shoke our hands and left. My husband & I just looked at each other and smiled. Of course after meeting an angel what does one say...lol.
I noticed a lot of people love to give you their life stories ...they love to talk about their purchases & what they will do with them...most are so interesting ..others not so much. I think they are lonely ....I am a good listener and always thank them for stopping. I have several customers stop who have bought from me over the years...it is like seeing old friends...I cant remember their names but I usually remember what they bought....go figure.
I had an elderly man stop and looked at my antique cardboard mask of Uncle Sam...he is also a collector of vintage patriotic. He didn't have one of these in his collection and we talked a bit about it. He left and I knew he would be back. A little less than an hour he brought his wife...took the mask off the shelf and brought it over....he treasured that mask I could tell. We agreed on the price and he left with a treasure that day...I think it made his day actually. I love when that happens.
The weather was pretty nasty...it was COLD & WINDY & RAINY......I am so thankful we had an inside spot...although there was a small leak in the roof right over my husbands head. We brought a small heater and after turning it on for a few minutes it knocked out all the lights in our aisle...lol. The dealer next to us knew where the electrical box was and turned them back on. We turned the heater on to minimum and manged to not knock out the lights again. Of course, my husband had to go around and tell the other dealers it was us that did it. This is what happens when you marry an honest man. Several dealers laughed...others smiled because they thought it was their heaters that knocked out the circuit....lol.
Even for being bad weather ...the crowds were great....I saw a lot of stuff go by...our sales were good...a bit less than hoped for but I am happy with what we made. Of course I cant wait for the next one on June 26...then we bring the fans !
Yours in whimsey,