October 23, 2017
Not Bitten by the Flea Market
Not by choice, but by an evil twist of fate, I happened to find myself at a flea market in Sacramento. It was about 98 degrees out and, although the nuns didn't describe Hell this exact way in Catholic School, the concept of Satan's underworld kept appearing in my mind's eye.

This hellish vision had nothing to do with Sacramento or it being 98 degrees, by the way. It had everything to do with the fact that I abhor rummage sales and flea markets are rummage sales to the hundredth power.

What are the underlying monetary principles for vendors in a flea market economy? Buy low, sell high? Gather goods for little or no money and then sell at retail prices with little overhead? No. Flea markets aren't about making money.

How do I know this? When I walked around this giant flea market I saw that nobody was buying anything. The customers just silently walked by each vendor's selling area, which generally are bent folding tables and beach umbrellas that separate Bob the flotsam-schlepper's-crap-he'll-never-sell from Nancy-the-jetsam-hauler's crap she'll never sell, and the browsing customer runs their eyes up and down the laid out useless crud/merchandise maybe making the briefest eye contact with the twit that owns it. And after giving the poor sap a quick thank-you-for-bringing-your-junk-out-into-the-hot-sun-smile, they move on.

No, flea markets are not about the money. Flea markets are about getting out of the house. Flea markets are the troubled offspring of bad marriages. "Honey, I'm going to the flea market and try to move some inventory." "Please! Get the hell out of here and take your mountain of junk with you. Your folding tables, the umbrellas, your little cardboard signs with the prices for your junk, pack it all up and go. And don't you dare buy anymore junk from your junk friends when you're there. No more 'inventory.'"

That's why it's O.K. when this poor sap sits all day at the flea market next to his handmade jewelry and stained glass shaving mirrors and lawn chairs made out of green tree branches watching people walk past his neatly spaced crap and take a big pass, after which he has to pack it all up in a special transportation of crap vehicle and bring his mountain of junk back home.

If you were a normal business person or sane you'd load up, display, not sell, and then pack up and take home your mountain of junk just once. You're done. No more.

But I guess most marriages need a release valve, a diversion, a seemingly purposeful but actually pointless, no chance for success reason to get out of the house. I know this because I golf.