Monday, April 12, 2010

The Pasadena Flea Market

Devin and I discovered our love for flea markets in December. Desperate for unique Christmas gifts and running out of time, we visited the weekly flea market at Fairfax High School. Initially, we were overwhelmed by the size and variety. But soon we were sucked in. I rummaged around through boxes of costume jewelry and old postcards. I walked through the tents of vintage clothing, wishing I had the imagination and patience to be the sort of person who could support such a wardrobe. Devin took a liking to any and all hideous items that he could proudly display in our home. Because we were on a mission for gifts, we denied ourselves, stayed focused and promised to return on a selfish pilgrimage on a later date.

When I heard the Pasadena Flea Market was several times more massive than the one at Fairfax, I knew I'd have to see it. The catch is that this event only happens once a month, and for the last 6 months I've managed to forget to make a note of the correct date so have consistently missed out.

Then this weekend, while my friend Shannon was visiting, the stars finally aligned. It was Saturday and we were sipping Bloody Marys in the living room while we both yammered on about our decorating endeavors --she's also recently moved into a new place-- and I mentioned that the blank space on the wall by the door is where I would put a cool antique mirror, whenever I got around to finding one at a flea market. The Pasadena Flea Market came up, prompting me to get online and see when the next one would be hold and lo! it was scheduled for the following morning. We made plans to get up early and head over.

On Sunday I woke up at 9, then 9:30, then 10:15. By 11:15 Devin, Shannon and I were finally leaving the house. By 11:45, we'd managed to go to the bank for cash and Starbucks for caffeine boost. I was fully aware that flea markets are the sort of events one is meant to wake up early to attend, but I simply could not see the urgency. It isn't as though the vendors would be selling iPads or Justin Bieber concert tickets. There would certainly be a million random knick knacks and I sincerely doubted that any 2 people would possibly want the same one.

As we arrived at the Rose Bowl (only a 5 minute drive), I realized why arriving early would have been beneficial: the parking lot was a madhouse. We drove and drove and drove. Finally, we arrived at an outer lawn, where a series of attendants in orange vests directed us into one of the dozen remaining spots.

It was a chilly, cloudy day, but that didn't seem to deter the crowds. Once we made our way through the front entrance I processed the enormity of the market. We'd be lucky to make it through 1/4 of it in the hours before it closed. After about 5 minutes, the 3 of us succeeded in losing one another, and the rest of the day would be like herding ants. No one wanted to look at the same things or stay in the same place for the same length of time.

After snaking our way through the first chunk of vendor booths, I had yet to find the cool mirror of my dreams. Devin, on the other hand, had managed to buy a bedazzled LA Dodgers belt buckle, a creepy doll wearing a hat (torso only, legs missing), a giant pipe made out of a log, and this terrible guitar lamp.

Because the guest room/office is essentially his room to outfit however he pleases, I didn't put up too much resistance to his items. I made faces and sighed a great deal, but that's about it. I wonder, however, what will happen if, in the future, we do not have a spare room. These things will certainly not make their way into the main living area, so I suppose we'll have to open our own booth at a flea market and sell this all back.

Anyway, then it was time for a snack break. Shannon and Devin grabbed hot dogs. There didn't appear to be anything meatless in sight, so I was SOL.

Soon after, Devin got a call that he needed to head home and do something for work, so his shopping spree was cut short. He agreed to come back and retrieve me and Shannon at closing time and so I helped Devin carry his bounty out to the parking lot. Of course, in our earlier excitement to have finally parked we didn't take note of where we'd wound up and so wandered around for some time looking for the car. Eventually I found it, but had since lost Devin. I called out for him, but there was no answer. Thankfully he was carrying the guitar lamp so I was able to locate him by the lampshade bopping its way through the maze of cars.

Right after Devin left, it became clear that it would rain at any minute, and that we were now trapped at the flea market with no transportation and no immediate shelter. To make matters worse, vendors began packing up their wares to protect them from the drizzle, so finding what I'd came for became even more difficult.

With about 30 minutes to closing time, I encountered a vendor who sold old window frames that he'd transformed into mirrors. I gave them a once over, but didn't commit. I walked away, then came back. Away, then back again. At last, I concluded my repeated returns must be a sign that I was a fan and so I impressed myself by bargaining, and got the window/mirror for a lower price.

Here I am posing with it, while freezing my butt off and eating greasy egg rolls.

All in all, a successful adventure. I fully intend on going back to the flea market next month. I feel like I barely scratched the surface and there are so many peculiar gems just waiting to be discovered.


  1. I'm going with you next month too - it was so much fun! Next time, I swear we will wake up earlier to make sure we get more done. Hmmmm...I smell a tradition in the making... :)

  2. LOVE the mirror! Good purchase. I always wanted to go, but never got the motivation...
    - Anne

  3. i have still yet to go to the flea market and i love that mirror, such a fun find. and i gotta admit, devin's guitar lamp thing is pretty awesome too :)

  4. why are flea markets called FLEA markets?? mom