By Pamela Burke/August 6,2012
During these 2012 Olympic Games you may have been hearing a lot about flea markets in London, popular places like Portobello and Camden, where trinkets of all kinds abound. One TODAY show story showed precious pottery, clothes along the style of what you might see on Kate (it said), and deals of a lifetime to be made for splendid objects.
If you, like me, haven’t had the opportunity to get to the Games, there’s a market in Maine you must try that is unto its own in the variety of fascinating items and well-weathered wares it offers. If you can’t get a bargain here, you can’t get it anywhere. It’s the Montsweag Flea Market in Woolwich.
You’d better be up and at ’em by 6 AM on Sundays and Wednesdays to experience the magnificence of the selection. There’s something about looking for great buys in outdoor flea spaces that has always attracted me and several of my friends. I guess it’s the thrill of the hunt and the possibility of finding an object so beguiling that we might expire if we don’t take possession of it.
Armed with $20 and a friend who knows the dealing ropes, we were on the hunt early last week. There’s nothing fancy about the set-up, simply plywood table after table snaking through a field laden with who knows what; where it’s come from; and what secrets it may hold. And if you spot something you like, you’d better grab it early…it goes fast.
Catching my eye immediately was a “gold” charm bracelet for $5. I love these relics from yesterday so who could pass on this one. Just because it was marked Avon and not 24 carat didn’t make a difference. And to get it for $4, how could I resist?
My friend (above, who didn’t want to be identified as the seasoned picker that she is) was almost ready to go for this clown-shaped cake mold but decided to use it as a mask instead. She’s not a big baker anyway.
As a big fan of the Old English Sheepdog, an irresistible piece of English pottery in the shape of an OES caught my eye immediately. Where could I possibly find another if I passed on it? But it was just too pricey (almost $300) and special to hassle over so I had to move on to another table quickly.
Nearby I saw a treasure that wasn’t so easy to walk away from. I love vintage oil paintings, especially ones of flowers that look like they have inhabited many summer seaside cottages. I found just the perfect one hidden under a table that I knew I should have even though I didn’t need it; had to get it to a house 3,000 miles away; and was large and would be difficult to pack. So I told myself I’d just offer something the seller would never take and forget it.
Negative! I said $20. He said $40. I said I couldn’t pay that and then have to ship it to the west coast and was going to pass. He said $30. I said I just can’t pack anything that big. I stayed with $20. He said he’d take $22, then finally $20 and said he knew that it was meant for me. That’s the way it goes. And it’s mine now.
A Tiddledy Winks game with a porcelain bowl in a like new box ($8), a delightful child’s book (who could resist for $4), and a ballerina pin ($2–a steal that recently fell apart) were all part of a day’s work of wheeling and dealing.
So I didn’t meet my $20 budget…$38 was not too bad…but who can put a price on this kind of fun. And who needs Portobello when a market like Montsweag lurks right down the street. So if you can’t make across the Pond, find a flea and see how good your bargaining skills really are. The folks are friendly and the price recommends.
Now how am I going to get this lovely old, somewhat tattered treasure home???
You can get these steals and deals every Sunday and Wednesday right off Route 1 in Woolwich. Go early and bring cash!
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