24. January 2005 · Comments Off on THE THRILL OF THE CHASE: A TRUIMPHAL ODE TO FLEA MARKETS · Categories: General, Home Front

Sing, ye muses, about the joys of snagging the exact, perfect item that you need for a room or project at a thrift store, flea market or marked better than 60% down at a post-Christmas sale. In this world I know there exist people whose approach to home decoration is to throw lots of money at an expensive interior decorator, in the hopes that purchased good taste will eventually stick to their walls— I may even have met some of them, on occasion— but it always seemed a rather bloodless way to do it, and not very much fun. It is on par with that internet hunt that people were hyperventilating about last month in the blogoverse; a gun with a webcam set up, and a program that let people log on, and aim and fire the gun at whatever wandered within range. They were still working out the logistics and some of the practical aspects to this project, but primarily it just did not seem nearly as much fun to serious devotees… it was just too easy. Being able to just order it up, money no object, is just like that— too easy. There’s no challenge to it, no opportunity to overcome a sudden obstacle, no sudden inspiration, no chance to exercise the old ingenuity.

And since I don’t have heaps of money, and was raised by fairly frugal— but tasteful— people, I have to take the budget approach, even though they call it “shabby chic” , to sorting out a new look for my daughter’s old bedroom. She is planning to go to college, post USMC, so the week she spent at home over Christmas this year were devoted to ripping out the carpet, painting the walls and stenciling the floor, reassessing all the furniture crammed into one tiny front bedroom, and hanging shelves all along the walls on either side of the window. Anything new would be either from the thrift store, or something we put together ourselves, or bought on sale: the bed is new, but it came from an unpainted furniture place, and I am making new pillow covers and curtains from severely-reduced decorator fabric… and just this last weekend I scored the perfect bedside lamp from the thrift store for $2.49, and made a pair of hanging wall vases from a couple of yards of wired ribbon and some slender glass vases from the hobby shop. Oh, yeah, eat your heart out, Martha Stewart.

The framed pictures over the bed all came from the thrift-shop too, but I took them apart and repainted the frames to match. Blondie even zeroed in on a nice oriental vase and a framed print from the same thrift-shop, things which looked remarkably good, once removed from the disreputable jumble of the thrift store. We could have, if time and budget permitted, driven north of San Antonio to the legendary Buseys’ Flea Market, and bought everything at once instead of piecemeal…

Heck, you could outfit an entire house with gleanings from Buseys’. It’s a couple of acres of rambling, single-storey sheds, booths, stalls, ranks of wooden tables under tin and tarpaper roofs. The vendors are a jumble, both regulars, who have established premises with lockable doors, and others who come occasionally to sell garage-style stuff from the trunks of their cars, or spread out on trestle tables: antique furniture, and just plain junk furniture, clothes, socks and underwear by the bale, work clothes and tee shirts, Orientalia and Mexican pottery, books and potted plants, birds in cages, tools of all sorts, old military uniforms and memorabilia, garden art, wind chimes, old and new and cheap kitchen appliances and tools, cheap jewelry, old typewriters, horse brass, china and silverware, lunch boxes, camping gear, drawer pulls, area rugs, old chenille bedspreads the color of orange sherbet and peptol bismol, video tapes, cassettes and old record albums… the contents of dozens of junk shops, garage sales and small retail places all jumbled together, every Saturday and Sunday.

There are a couple of food stalls, too, and I think I saw a fortune-teller, last time. The smell of funnel cakes and hot deep-fat frying wafts from one direction, and mariachi music from the stall selling imports from Mexico spills out into the walkway by the ATM machine— Buseys’ has it all. 95% of it is total krep, of course— but that remaining %5, if you are sharp-eyed and know what you want, and have the wit to buy it as soon as you see it— oh, that five percent is worth the trip. I should think it would make a most wondrous reality-TV Home-Decorating DIY show: to go to a place like Buseys’ and tastefully outfit an entire house— furniture, accessories, bedding and rugs and all— just from what you could find there. All I’d need would be a pretty good budget and a pickup truck— send any TV offers through my agent, please.

Oh, and Buseys’ is about a half hour drive north of San Antonio, on I-35. Look for the enormous concrete armadillo.

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