It was a beautiful weekend for fleas

Last weekend was beautiful in central Wisconsin, and my family and I took full advantage of it.

To celebrate Father’s Day, my husband, daughter and me went to Zurko Promotions’ Shawano flea market. Zurko’s holds flea markets every Sunday at the Shawano County Fairgrounds in Shawano, Wis., through the summer. This was our first opportunity to get there this season, and for $2 admission per adult (children under 16 are free), it’s a fantastic way to spend the day.

My husband and I love flea markets and auctions. Since our daughter came along, we haven’t gone to as many as we once did, but now she’s getting old enough to appreciate all the wonderful things that can be had … for a price. At first she didn’t want to go, but once I explained to her that it was like a “ginormous” garage sale, she was okay with it.

We didn’t get to the flea market until almost noon (my husband suggested we go out for breakfast, and I always take full advantage of the opportunity when my husband suggests that someone else cook), but we were still impressed with the number of vendors that were there. We’ve been to some flea markets where, if you don’t get there before 10 a.m., you don’t even need to bother going because everyone gets there at the crack of dawn and they’re packing up by 10.

My husband and daughter wandered off to find their kind of treasures while I hung back and just enjoyed being there for a while. It felt great to be back at a market where every few minutes I heard haggling between buyers and sellers, I heard dealers exchanging anecdotes, and buyers calling their friends and families on their cell phones telling them about where they were and what they were finding.

While browsing goods that ranged from hand-made doll wardrobes to old farm implements to (and this is new this year) dried fruits and nuts, I spoke with a few of the vendors of more vintage items.

I asked how often they come to the Shawano market, and a couple of them said they come every week, and that they always have a good rotation and of vendors and good vendor turnout. One said it was her first time this season, because they don’t come before Memorial Day since they’re traveling a distance and there just isn’t enough of a crowd to make it worth their while. The vendors were all very upbeat and positive.

The majority of the vendors I spoke with also said that they’re pretty happy with how the season’s shaping up, even though the weather has been “beating us up.” One of the vendors opined that he thought the secondary market was going to be okay and manage the rough economy better than retail stores because retailers have to pay more to stock their shelves. I think he’s right.

A summary of my most recent flea market experience: The weather was beautiful, there was a great group of vendors with a wide array of merchandise both old and new, and an appreciative buying crowd. If there is any way possible, I’m going to make it back to Shawano for the holiday extravaganza that is scheduled for July 5-6, because a couple of the vendors told me they were going to be “filled to the fences.”

Will I see you there? Or will you be visiting other venues? Feel free to post a reply here and share your flea market experiences and impressions.

— Karen