Recession Treasures

Down-turn economy spurs creative ways to make money at a flea market

The Great Recession has many of us clamoring for ways to make money, and for others we are looking for ways to save it. So, if making money or spending less has become a new way of life for you, check out the new “outdoor garage sales” at the Big Cypress Marketplace on U.S. 41 East.

At the first sale held last Saturday, exhibitors displayed merchandise on tables or sheets on the ground, featuring a wild array of household and miscellaneous items. Stuffed animals, picture frames, a fertilizer spreader, a neck massager, a walker, knitted clothes hangers, board games, a no-bark collar, cowboy hats, fishing lures, campaign buttons and World War II ration tokens were just a few “treasures” available for purchase.

Turnout was sparse, but a number of the vendors said they are confident the customers will show up as the weather cools and winter season approaches.

“We’re flea market veterans. We did this when we lived in Jersey, and we used to sell at the one they had over on Davis Boulevard at the old drive-in theater,” said Terry Rensel of Naples. “It’s slow now, but it’ll pick up when season comes.”

He was interrupted by a customer coming back to purchase a black candy dish she had spied earlier. “I’m going to take it, and worry about what to do with it later,” said Angela Johnson. “We’re glad to have this here ... This is something for retired people to do on a Saturday morning.”

Paula Power, who works inside the Big Cypress Marketplace, came out to browse the sale items. “I saw a couple of things I might need,” she said. “I love that derby hat, and I saw a beautiful elephant planter.” Power knows her derbies — she works at McHenry’s, specializing in Irish merchandise. “They’ll do fine here once they get established, and it’s bound to get cooler.” “We haven’t had a bad day,” said exhibitor Angela Brown of Estero. “We’ve sold plants, bedspreads, some clothes, pictures, jewelry, pillows … just a mixture of things, really.” She added with a laugh, “and we’re glad to be rid of it.”

One woman was selling merchandise out of the back of her Lexus SUV. “I don’t want to give my name,” she said. “I’m a little embarrassed to be doing this. I’m living in a $500,000 condo, and I’m over here selling at the flea market.” Her work in real estate is not paying the bills, she said. “I’m going through a real hard time.”

Then a child’s voice cried out, “Look, grandma, Beanie Babies!” Destiny Howell, 7, along with her brother Ryan, 5, inspected a variety of stuffed toys before settling on a teddy bear. In these unsettling times, she was doing her part to keep the economy moving.

Sales are held from 8 a.m. to noon on the first Saturday of each month in the parking lot at Big Cypress Marketplace. A limited number of selling spaces are available for a nominal fee of $10 per 9 x 20-foot area and advance reservations are requested. In addition, the market will rent a limited number of 6 x 8-foot tables for $10 each. Information: 262-4622.

© 2009 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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