Saturday, August 21, 2010

My Surprising Flea Market Experience

Today was an interesting day. My wife got a tip from a friend that we needed to check out the Texas flea market scene if we want to walk around somewhere and get outside. Naturally, she wanted to go on one of the hottest days of the year, but I relented under the fact that I figured there wasnt much else to do. We ended up at two different places that were close together, and I ended up with two vastly different experiences, one that legitimately surprised the hell out of me.

The first place we ended up at was exactly what I expected a flea market to be like. Dirty sheds with people peddling their junk. There were all sorts of people selling there, and we ended up staying about an hour. There were a few tables I looked at mainly the ones with cards, sports apparel or toys. I found some awesome starting lineups from the early 90s, but they were incredibly over priced. I also found a few interesting McFarlane figures that I wanted, but the Favre that they had was priced 15 bucks above ebay. The funniest shed I went into had a few toys and a case of cards, but the prices were borderline insane. The best of the worst was a Jamarcus Russell Chrome refractor priced at a miniscule $25. This card is now selling at $.50 on ebay regularly. Awesome. After walking around a bit more we left to check out place number two.

Flea Market #2 was actually indoors and a completely different experience than the first. Rather than people who drove their trailers to a designated spot, this place was permanently set up with vendor "shops." We walked around for a while, stopping at a "store" that was selling kids room decorations, and me finding an awesome place to go when looking to decorate my future man cave. When we thought we had seen it all, I noticed that there was a small door opening into a ridiculously large building that the rest of the market was in. In the middle of this large building, there was a walled off "shop" that I could see hundreds of jerseys hanging on the wall. I made a bee line for the store and walked into a virtual paradise that was completely unexpected. There were authentic jerseys from all four sports lining the walls, and in the middle, there were rows and rows of shirts, accessories and other licensed stuff from just about every team under the sun.

As I walked through the rows, I found a whole row of stuff dedicated to the Vikings, and I started thumbing through every thing I could get my hands on. My wife gave me the stink eye like "ill leave you alone with your stuff" and took Noah to get a soda at the snack bar. After finding a few shirts and stuff, I made my way to the back of the walled off area. Thats when I saw exactly what I was looking for. Case after case of singles and a wall of wax from the three main sports. Expecting ridiculous prices I approached with caution, only to find a ton of high end cards at practically eBay prices. The cards were arranged by draft class, oddly enough, and I started at 2006 and made my way to the present. He had multiple three color Exquisite patch autos of Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin, among others, that I almost jumped on, but I figured that with Topps hitting shelves next week, I could always come back when I had more money on me and more time to look. He had a ton of Emmitt Smith autos and Troy Aikman autos that were cool to see, and even a few Peterson autos that I didnt have. If you are a cowboys fan, this would have been your graceland, and I am dumbfounded why someone like him exists in a market surrounded by fake gucci sunglasses and bootleg DVDs. Funny enough, he had three or four of the dual and quad red ink 2007 Rookie Premiere autos, all legit. Right there, he had earned my respect that just about every show dealer had lost.

My wife came back about 15 mins later expecting me to be done, and was not happy that I had found cards to look at. Noah was getting fussy, so we had to move quickly, and I decided to buy a cool Vikings sideline hat from last year at half price, and come back for clothes when my weight had stabilized. I almost bought some of the massive amounts of current wax he had at just above Blowout prices, but settled on coming back later when I had an idea of what I wanted.

It was impressive and completely shocking that a place like that could exist in a market like it did. He had a TON of customers, more interested in his sports apparel than anything, but his cards were enough to make any collector swoon at what was available at the prices he had. This begs the question of success in an unfavorable venue, especially when you consider that most of the people walking through that market had no interest in what he was selling. Its actually too bad that this place is 30 mins from my house, because I would easily return frequently.

I guess this serves as a lesson to collectors, one should never judge a book by its cover. I did, as I usually do, and I am glad that I gave it more of a shot.


  1. Ah the Eisenhower flea market. When I was living in SA years ago me and my dad would frequent that particular shop pretty often. He's been there for 15 years at least and it's good to hear he's still there and doing well. He's always had ridiculously good cards there it almost makes you sick. Glad you found that cool spot.

  2. There's one like that in Baltimore as well, that is also inside. They don't have much unopened wax, and I don't really remember a lot of clothing, but there are some amazing cards to be had, and the dealers always work with you on prices.

    It's weird to go to a flea market and see a DiMaggio cut auto. I think there was a Ruth cut there as well.

  3. Yeah, it's great to find an oasis in the middle of a barren wasteland. Where I live, it's difficult to find a card shop comparable to what you found in a flea market. I collect primarily singles online now anyways, so it's no big deal, but I miss walking into a great card shop and talking with collectors while being being overwhelmed with awesome cards at reasonable prices.

    I will eventually sell my collection in about 20 or 25 years, and I want to have a place like that where collectors can come and feel welcome and a little overwhelmed by too many awesome cards at good prices.

    Btw, I find most of your opinions regarding the hobby to be spot on and refreshing. Keep up the good work. I've learned a few things reading here, and I always like a writer/blogger who is willing to be honest and unabashed. It makes for much more interesting reading and focuses on topics often too taboo for companies like Beckett and Topps to talk about.