Saturday, May 29, 2004

"Are there any FLEAS here?"


Boy flea markets just ain't what they used to be. Back even 25 years ago I could go to flea markets and it was really a big deal. I'd find box after box of comic books, old paperbacks, metal lunch boxes, knife and coin dealers, old toys, military surplus items, and all sorts of stuff. Most of it was pretty cheap even by the standards of how much a buck was worth at that time.

Today I find them full of what I term "professional flea marketers" who buy large amounts of new stuff wholesale for resale there, or lots of craft people peddling things they've made. Gone are the people who have cleared out their garages and attics and closets full of treasures they've accumulated over the years. I walk thru these places today and ignore 95% of the booths set up, stopping only occasionally at one or the other, and usually finding next to nothing to make my trip worthwhile.

Flea markets too have changed into buildings of a mall sort where the dealers set up their booths on a monthy basis and are rarely actually there themselves, allowing instead the owners of the business to take a commission from their sales. No longer do we have the joy of trying to chew them down a bit on the price. Those that aren't that way and the people selling their goods actually do attend their tables have a pretty set fee because of the cost of their table space and know they have little room in allowances for discounts if they wish to make any profit.

And yard sales are different as well. Here too they don't clear out those storage bins of older stuff but usually have them filled with discarded clothing...a LOT of baby clothes it would seem, and, shoes. Do you really want to wear shoes that others have worn? I don't know about that. They're also filled with just a lot of plain ol' junk that I personally would have bagged up for the weekly trash pick-up, but these yard sellers seem to feel that "someone" needs this stuff and is willing to give them a quarter for it.

Does this say something dramatic about this country's economy when we see multitudes of such sales? Are people that desperate to make ends meet any more that they'll try to sell just about anything of value or not to pay bills? Perhaps not. Maybe some people just LIKE to have yard sales. And granted there's a lot of people at the flea markets that are retired and just do this as a side-line for extra income and enjoy setting up at various locations to meet and talk with all the people; more like a social event to them.

Others I see at flea markets are able-bodied individuals that look like they wouldn't know an honest day's work if it came up and kicked them in the hind-quarters and wants the lazyman's way of making a buck. And how some of them sell enough to actually make it worth their while eludes me because I see items priced far beyond their actual value, but the sellers think there's somebody that'll give that price for it, only to bring it back week-after-week until YOU know their stock better than they do.

Now the townships themselves are getting in on the deal by charging the city's residents a fee to set up their yard sales, allowing them a certain number of set-ups per year and actually issuing them a permit to have them; fining them if they don't do so.

I never did very well having yard sales. I hear of these people having them and making several hundreds of dollars each time, but me, I'm lucky if I sell ten dollars worth of anything in a day's time, and it seems the only way I can accomplish that feat is if I just "give it away" for next to nothing. And I wonder how much of this is taxed by the government every year? If someone's selling $300. a day and they have a dozen yard sales a year we're talking over 3-1/2 K here in income which I seriously doubt is ever being reported.

I think I'll stick to selling on line. Easier than all that pricing, setting up tables and the hassle.

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