Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Flea Market Finds: Crossing the (State) Line

Friday was a pretty crazy day.  Kate had taken Friday and Monday off to use up some of her vacation days, so I decided to take Friday off as well.  We were going to head to Rogers, Ohio to one of my favorite flea markets with the in-laws in the morning, and then had plans to meet up with one of her friends in Altoona, PA, which is towards central PA, that evening to catch a game of the Pirates AA affiliate.  It was going to be a long day.  Which I unintentionally made even longer.

Kate called her mom Thursday night to finalize the plans.  I said we should probably get an early start and leave around 7.  Apparently she took that to mean we should meet her parents at 7:00...who live a good half hour south of us.  So I was a bit surprised when the alarm started going off the next morning, I opened my eyes, and discovered it was still dark out.  Instead of rolling out of bed at 6:55, throwing on some shorts and a tshirt and hopping in the car, it was 6:00, and we would be on the road by 6:30.  Ugh!

After an hour and a half drive, we reached the flea market, grabbed a couple amazing Amish doughnuts for breakfast, and I was off prowling for deals.  I hit gold early on with one of the regular vendors.  I snagged both of the pennants above for $3 each.  The colors are great, and I haven't seen the 1987 100th Anniversary pennant before.  

A few tables later, a woman had a big bin of PEZ dispensers for $1 each.  Kate seemed really confused when I stopped to look.  I have a large PEZ collection (yes, I collect too many damn things) from when I was a kid/teenager.  I stopped around the time I was in high school, but still have probably a couple hundred dispensers in boxes at my parents'.  But I never realized until we were chatting while I dug through the box that Kate had never actually seen the collection, and probably thought the occasional dispenser I would buy at the supermarket was just for the candy.  Little did she know...

The woman had mostly newer dispensers from the past 10 years or so.  Those are actually the ones I don't have, but I kept myself in check.  I picked up a couple Pixar ones, cause they were awesome, an older Daffy Duck, and to the far left a Jack in the Box exclusive that used to be damn near impossible to find out east.  Kate threw in one of her beloved California Raisin figures to make it an even $5.  Now I just need to make sure I keep my long lost hobby in check and don't go out buying dozens of PEZ.  This was actually the first time I had seen dispensers at a flea market.
 After a wave of finds early on, things slowed down considerably.  Cardboard was slim pickins'.  I found a decent of number of people with cards, but it was almost all either overproduction era or priced at or above full book.  I did find one dealer with some pretty nice quarter boxes, though all the vintage and game used cards he had were full book.
 I plucked out $3 worth of 90's goodness, and couldn't be happier.
 It's definitely a nostalgia factor.  But I also think cards of the mid 90's were just more appealing than the hit-driven hobby of today.
 With the number of companies in the game, everybody was trying to build a better mousetrap to make their products move.  I think it's easy to forget in today's hobby how much one or two hot insert sets could move an entire product off the shelves.  And those cards were actually ones you had a decent chance of pulling.
 Today, we chase the big hits.  Sure.  But even if you are lucky enough to pull a superfractor, or 1/1, there is a good chance that the card will sell for peanuts.  One of my friends pulled a Topps Platinum 1/1 of one of the Devil Rays - maybe Yunel Escobar?.  I think the card sold at auction for about $10-15.  That just seems crazy for a card of an established major leaguer from the most well known baseball set of the year, even if it was a team and collector with a limited fan base.
 If you pulled one of the 1:700 pack inserts, the nature of the insert set made it a safe bet that it would be a decent caliber player.  Sure, the occasional Mo Vaughn or Darin Erstad would slip into a set and sell for a fraction of the Ripken or Junior.
 Not to be the moaning 90's collector again.  I'm thrilled to grab these beauties for a quarter.  I just wish I could have the same excitement for cards coming out in sets today.
 But in the mean time...
I'll settle for these gems.
The trip didn't yield as much as I had hoped or expected, especially after the couple of great finds early on.  There were literally a couple hundred vendors set up, so I had to walk by a lot of rusty tools, vintage advertising memorabilia, and delicious food to find as much as I did.

On the way out, I spotted a woman with some random stuff on a table next to her stand of handbags.  Apparently it had been her sons.  Nothing was priced, which is my biggest pet peeve, but there was a trio of Diamondbacks balls which had apparently been a McDonald's giveaway in 1998.  She said to make an offer, and I was happy to hand over $2 for the trio.  It's the teal and purple one in the middle that was the real prize for me.  


  1. Lots of cool flea market finds!

  2. Great stuff. I use to be a sucker for pennants and baseballs too, but have had to scale it back quite a bit over the years. Space is becoming more and more precious.

    1. I'm well beyond the point of having wall space in our two bedroom. I'm hoping within the next few months we'll be buying a house in the city and I'll see what I end up having space for. Buying is the easy part...finding the space for everything is a lot tougher!

  3. Very cool. Love the eTopps Khalil.

  4. Great finds! I used to collect Pez dispensers as a kid. Makes me wonder where they all went. I think I'm down to only one. It' a Yoda that sits atop my cabinet in my classroom.

    1. I have a couple on my desk in the office - a Captain America and Thor. I'm sure the others are somewhere at my parents, but no idea where. I even have (had?) the in store display that the blister cards hang on.