Tag Archives: flea markets

friday clippings 12/9/16


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There. How’s that for proof of some holiday spirit stirring? You can keep the poinsettias. I’ll take my holiday colors in the form of Aeonium ‘Mardi Gras.’

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And then there was that very festive plant swap meetup this past week with Gail & Kris that helped start the thawing of my holiday-averse heart.
My offering was pups of this variegated Agave bracteosa ‘Monterrey Frost.’
Gail (Piece of Eden) brought a sackload of rare plant treats, as did Kris (Late to the Garden Party).
Kris was also entrusted with the solemn duty of dispersing pups from Pam’s whale agave Moby, who passed on in her Austin, TX garden in 2016.
(That’s my very young whale agave also in the photo above, the selection ‘Frosty Blue.’)

This weekend I plan on getting some shopping done at some of the craft fairs that are popping up.
A sure bet looks like the Renegade Craft Fair, especially since it will be held at Grand Park this year. And this Sunday is perfect timing for the Rose Bowl Flea Market too.
If you’re in Long Beach, the source of my ‘Monterrey Frost’ agave was Urban Americana, a great place, btw, for some holiday shopping.
Lots of Bauer and Gainey pottery, including this lust-inducing Bauer Hanging Indian Pot. Maybe Marty will check the blog before the 25th.
Long Beach harbor’s twinkly boat parade this Saturday night always softens me up and gets me in a holiday mood.
And If I stream the semi-holiday-themed movie “About A Boy,” maybe while baking some Molasses Crinkle cookies, I should be just about there.

Have a very merry weekend!

flea market 101

Getting to our first ever flea market as buyers sellers last Sunday was a journey of just five miles. Still, it was epic in scope and had all the hallmarks of a serious expedition: Not sleeping the night before, endless mental checklists, thermoses, camp chairs, rising before dawn, no breakfast. It was a good thing Dustin fed us all the night before when we stopped by to load up his stuff. (Were the butterflies in our stomachs due to flea market jitters or Dustin’s roasted chilis?)

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Marty was my loyal sherpa for a day. His ’70 bus carried it all. Strapped to the roof were most of the tables and Reuben’s murals. (see Reuben’s magisterial account here.)
Mitch was in town and managed to find time between packing and unpacking to snap some photos.

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Every inch of the bus was dragooned into flea market duty.

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And then, still before breakfast, it’s time to unpack it all.

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The unexpected juxtapositions are pure flea market, like the hot plate/Mr. Peanut thingy from Dustin’s grandmother sharing table space with his concrete buddha. (Mr. Peanut found his buyer late in the day.) Reuben’s two smelt pots, one seen just behind the armillary sphere, attracted interest early from the “pros.” It was a fine introduction in flea market economics to observe how Reuben set and finessed prices. The heavy smelt pots eventually sold late in the day for very close to Reuben’s initial asking price, to the same gent who couldn’t live without Mr. Peanut. I’m telling you, every transaction could be the basis for a short story.

The story arc to Dustin’s concrete gems alone was worth the price of admission. Our carnival barking became more aggressive as the day progressed, as the concrete was handled, the facets examined then returned to the tables. “Charm your friends! Harm your enemies!” And all morning they went unsold. Not one sale. It seemed a thundering judgment had been made: We loved them, but nobody else did. And then in an instant, everything changed, and Dustin was mobbed with buyers. A florist wanted dozens. A bride-to-be wanted them for tables for her wedding in September, and could Dustin paint them white? People were drawn in by the frenzy, and more gems sold. (And what a great idea the future bride had. Diamonds=wedding. Get it?)


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The displays became more refined throughout the day — mostly because there’s lots of down time between buyers. The whole lot of these old pharmacy jars were bought early in the day at one go, all eight of them. The smaller “monkey fists” about the size of billiard balls (which hold the center) sold only when we came down in price by quite a bit. Lots of people just took photos, spun around, and dove back into the crowds. The stuff on our tables was endlessly fondled and caressed, sometimes followed by a sale, just as frequently not. Watching the interaction between people and objects was so very, very interesting, who was attracted to what and why. I expected the why to remain a mystery, but loved when people tried to articulate it, offering stories of their longing. I had experienced how sellers weave narratives around their stuff for sale, but it was a surprise to find it works both ways. Buyers do this too, like the girl who wanted the lab beakers for her budding scientist brother. I fell hard for these stories and came way down in price. I did discover that my source for industrial salvage is charging me too much. I brought these metal trays back home, since I couldn’t break even with them.

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The buyers were fascinatingly unpredictable. People wanted to buy Marty’s bus, our display tables, including this tool cart. Dustin’s grandmother’s tchotchkes sold well. What we called Dustin’s “tostadas” sold late in the day. Just a few people noticed these were made of a unique, very lightweight, sculptural concrete formulation, but those that did notice were intensely interested. Same thing with Reuben’s smelt pots, which are sculptural, fused-glass byproducts of molten industrial processes. Those whose eye they caught immediately recognized their complex provenance. Watching objects work their magic on people was the best part of the day. Dustin’s “ficus tree root with superimposed grapevine” sculpture found its adoring owner late in the day too.

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I was secretly hoping Reuben’s conical, heavy lanterns wouldn’t sell, so I’d be forced to make a decision on them, but sell they did.
Dustin was fiendishly delighted when the glass vase he found abandoned in his alley went to an appreciative buyer.

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By 4 o’clock we were home, and it was all unpacked. We were entrusted temporarily with Reuben’s stuff, which was all carefully put away — after I had a good play with it.

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Would we do it again? We’re thinking maybe February, if there’s any spaces still available. Was the money good? I thought so, although Reuben thought this flea’s attendance wasn’t the best he’s seen. We were prepared to accommodate big transactions with Square, and it did come in handy. Some people wanted bags to carry off their purchases, and we had none, but we did have a wagon that we loaned out all day to carry off the heavier items, which was always faithfully returned. Was the explicitly garden-related stuff a hit? Not really. The only one to even give the garden books and magazines a glance was Kris, who wrote about her adventure here. (Such a treat to meet you and your friends, Kris.)

Reuben, Dustin, Mitch, Marty, I’d flea-market again with you in a heartbeat, just name the time and place. The only caveat is there must be breakfast next time.

AGO/non-secateur flea market pop-up shop 12/15/13

I’ve been checking out local flea markets to get a sense of how this whole thing works from a seller’s perspective, which is totally foreign to me. I still have stuff from flea markets I bought when I was in my teens but have never been a seller. All that will change on December 15, 2013, when Dustin and I will have our own stall at the Long Beach Antique Market, a combined AGO/non-secateur pop-up shop. Dustin wants to change his garden, so expect lots of his concrete orbs and buddha heads, plus new crete work. And plants, of course. Meanwhile, the flea market research is getting expensive, because I can’t stop bringing home more stuff, which is why I needed to sell at flea markets in the first place. I found these pots at the Downtown Flea, which meets every fourth Sunday, from a vendor whose card I’ve since lost, a very nice invertebrate biologist who apparently has an amazing garden that he’s promised I can visit. (I bought only one, the green with the rosette design.) I’m hoping he might stumble onto this post and leave his name and address.

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This Sunday, November 10, 2013, I’ll be checking out one of the biggest in Los Angeles, if not the country, the Rose Bowl Flea Market, and hoping to draw upon previously untapped reserves of self-control.

more garden

I just couldn’t make the leap to water gardening last year and still don’t feel the undeniable urge this year to find the answers to all the questions I still have, so the intended water garden, a 3X2 foot steel tank found at a local flea market, has been planted.

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The few small holes in the bottom that were plugged for the water garden were unplugged, some gravel added, then lots of compost and bagged potting soil.

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Easy stuff like the dwarf Verbena bonariensis ‘Lollipop’ will be part of the experiment, plus a couple Eryngium tripartitum, which I’m not even sure will bloom their first year. Tough, slim, and diaphanous is the idea.

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I just hate having a perfectly good container go unplanted.
Besides, that wonderful patina cries out for a mini-urban-prairie-in-a-boxcar experiment.
Funny how I thought there’d be room for lots more than just five plants, at least a couple grasses.
Research on a 3X2 water garden continues…

Riches of Rancho Reubidoux

Faithful readers of Reuben Munoz’s blog, Rancho Reubidoux, will have followed Reuben’s decision to join the Riverside Flower Show and Garden Tour, cheering him on as he underwent the harrowing process of qualifying to be on the tour and then the months of grueling preparation leading up to the fateful weekend. Fortunately, I live within 50 miles of RR and wouldn’t miss the chance to tour Reuben’s garden for the world. Garden designer Dustin Gimbel, who blogs at non-secateur, drove out with me to catch the tour of RR yesterday, a gorgeous, balmy Sunday. Tickets for the tour were bought at the Elks Lodge, where the “Flower Show” part of the festivities takes place, with tables holding row upon row of lovingly tended blooms in vases, orchids, succulents, all neatly identified. Very country fair. I could have happily passed a couple hours in the flower show hall, but the prospect of seeing Reuben’s legendary Rancho lured us quickly out of the hall, back in the car, with the “treasure map” in hand that would lead us to the fabulous riches of Rancho Rubideaux, home to Reuben, Paul, Inky and Frito, the latter two safely tucked away with friends for the tour.

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