Synopses & Reviews
Among the countless flea markets in America, there are those that deserve to be called legendary. Scattered around the country, these are the markets with hundreds—sometimes thousands—of dealers and whose spectacular settings, covetable offerings, and colorful histories make each an unforgettable experience and a unique adventure. Pamela Keech—a museum curator who shops professionally at flea markets—profiles her top twenty choices, the flea markets that can be counted on to surprise and delight at every turn.
Tackling these mammoth events, however, is not for the faint of heart. For starters, the size and scope of each market can be overwhelming—no, are overwhelming. They cover acres and acres and miles and miles. (To give you an idea of their scope, there is one that stretches from Maryland to Missouri and another from Michigan to Alabama.) The Best Flea, Antique, Vintage, and New-Style Markets in America is an essential guide for shoppers who want to get the most out of each venue. All the practical details are covered: how far ahead of time to make reservations, how to avoid wasting precious time in traffic jams, how to navigate the miles of aisles, how to determine the best paths through the markets, how much territory can be covered in a day, how to find out where the must-see dealers set up their tables, what to take to be comfortable, and more. Other essential information includes smart negotiating, shipping options, and—because the thrill of the chase can be utterly exhausting—great local places to eat and where to find a soft bed at the end of the day.
One of the many charms of the book is its focus on regional style. Each of the markets profiled has an unmistakable sense of place, evident in the merchandise that fills the booths. Canton, Texas started 150 years ago as a trading market for cattle and livestock; this is where you’ll find vintage cowboy boots, railroad and ranch memorabilia, and primitives. At the Rose Bowl Flea Market, the proximity to Hollywood casts a sparkle over everything; don’t be surprised to find yourself browsing elbow to elbow with movie stars at tables filled with memorabilia from the silver screen and glamorous costume jewelry. At Shipshewana, in the heartland of the Indiana Amish, you’ll find more than the usual number of pie safes, kitchen implements, and quilts. Keech highlights these differences with bits of cultural and decorative history and lots and lots of photographs that will make even armchair travelers feel like part of the action.
About the Author
Pamela Keech has been addicted to flea markets and auctions ever since she watched her father buy a nineteenth-century Steinway piano for $15. She is an artist, writer, and expert in the material culture of the working classes. In 1993 she began working as the curator of furnishings at the Tenement Museum in New York City and has since furnished the entire museum with flea market finds. She is the author of The Curious Shopper’s Guide to New York City and the co-author, with Margaret Brucia, of The Civilized Shopper’s Guide to Rome. She lives in New York City and Bloomington, Indiana.