Looking for a Flea Market; No Success

This display tells you all you need to know about the “new Happy’s.”
Wanna slice somebody up? Here’s how.

Yesterday, Margie and I spent a good part of a beautiful Saturday looking for a flea market where I could sell some stuff and we had–at best–marginal success. We found two and discovered a third no longer operates, or at least didn’t yesterday and showed no signs of recent activity.

The ones we actually found were hardly worth the effort. There’s an old one in Buchanan (just before you hit town, coming off I81) that was recommended by a colleague who lives in Botetourt County. We got there a little late to really make a determination about its quality, but the vendors who were left didn’t inspire. They told me the crowds had not been big, nor those selling impressive during the course of the day. I asked an antique dealer in town about the flea market and she said it had wildly varying quality.

These old boys were talking Trump and tools.

What I found unacceptable, though, had little to do with the flea market itself. It was the bugs. I could not see standing in that grass being eaten alive by tiny bugs while selling my goods.

We drove out to Montvale to try to find a flea market I’ve seen on occasion while driving to Bedford or Lynchburg. It was closed and the big field where it rested didn’t appear to have been used lately.

Then there’s the flea market that has sprung up next door to where the old Happy’s once pulled in thousands of people and many vendors (some of them professional, a large number weekenders) on a typical weekend. This was the flea market I liked because it had such variety and a lot of amateurs simply cleaning out their basements, offering a wide assortment of good, bad and indifferent offerings. I always enjoyed engaging the people and taking pictures at Happy’s.

This man and his small child seemed out of place at the cosmetics counter.

The latest incarnation is the worst of Happy’s, mostly professional flea market vendors selling cheap new goods, rather than good used junk and collectibles. I noted two different vendors selling Trump paraphernalia and the cigarette smoke was often heavy. There were a number of chances to buy implements of destruction and cheap clothing (Wrangler jeans for $12, about the same as what I pay at Northwest Hardware). Nobody seemed happy, so to speak. I always detected a level of joy at Happy’s, even on bad days.

So, my conclusion: Move along, nothing to see here.

Vendors wearing their Trump gear. I wasn’t buying.
Hmmm. Who goes to a flea market to buy cosmetics?
Cheap jewelry on display.
No, these are not real, illegal guns. They shoot some kind of plastic slug. I asked the guy selling them if I could get a real one. He frowned at me, thinking I was a narc, I guess.

By admin

Dan Smith is an award-winning journalist in Roanoke, Va., and a member of the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame. He is an author, photographer, essayist, father and grandfather. Co-founder of Valley Business FRONT magazine and founder of the Roanoke Regional Writers Conference. On Advisory Board of New River Voice.

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