Friday, June 29, 2018

Elkhorn Flea Market

Way back when the winter seemed like it would never end, I cooked up a summer vacation plan one afternoon. I have been reading country living magazines for more than 25 years now and I had a bit of a list in my head of flea markets I want to go to. Elk horn in Wisconsin has been on the list a LONG time. There also happened to be a campground I was interested in and one of the Laura Ingalls Wilder properties up there, so, let's make a trip of it!

We went last weekend.  Let's start with some thoughts on the flea:

It is HUGE. They say about 500 vendors. I have been to plenty of 500 vendor flea markets but the lay out of this market is really, really chaotic. There is really no systematic order so it makes it really hard to tell how much you have seen, how much left there is to see, where you have been, etc. I am pretty systematic in all things in life - including flea marketing! I like to start at one end and purposefully make my way to the other end, so, I hated this. It made me hard for me to focus on the junk because my mind was like where are we? 

It was really hard to negotiate. After 20 years I am a pretty seasoned flea marketer. I very rarely bargain for things under $20 unless I have a legitimate reason to think the price really is too high. I did overhear other people saying that negotiating there was impossible and I found it the same.

The prices were pretty high. Most everything there truly is vintage or antique, meaning there were no real "steals", but nearly every quilt was $125+. Even quilts that were imported, in poor condition, were tied, had period inappropriate fabrics on the backs, faded, etc. That is a real turn off for me. I am happy to see nice quilts fetching what they are worth! but, meh on stuff that was really not worth that. 

Also a bit suprising is what I didn't see - no quilt blocks, bags of pieces, feedsacks other than a few that had been cut into napkins ($10 for a tiny piece), vintage fabric. I did only see about 70% of the show I think -it was hot in the sun, the kids were sweating, I was sweating and after 2.5 hours the kids were really at the end of their tolerance.

So, having said all of that, would I go again? I probably would give it another chance. Now that I have some clue how things are laid out my brain would probably find it less chaotic. Is it the most awesome flea I have ever been to? Nah. Is it the most vintage stuff I have ever seen in one place in a LONG LONG time? Yes. And I did see some things I never see locally. 

What did I buy?



 A yo yo quilt I am hoping to get repaired here today. I am going to tell everyone what I paid, just because I have mentioned the pricing at this market. It was $30. I am missing the full photo of it. The condition of it is really not that bad, but I had to look at hundreds of quilts to find one I could actually afford.
 This white table linen is SO gorgeous.
 Really delicate and amazing. It was $6
 This is a quilt top. I really think was another lucky score given the quilt prices up there, $35


 This is a pillow cover, the condition is not great, but it is society silk, something I really do not see very often here. (like once in a blue moon really.)  I had to kind of bargain endlessly to get this for $20. It is stained and I think there is no way to clean it because the red silk thread will bleed.
 A damaged Santa ($15) and a pristine picnic tin ($15).  Other tins were selling for close to $50.
 A very dirty doll quilt. Only $3.
 A really small luncheon tablecloth. $8. There were HUNDREDS and hundreds of tablecloths. Massive piles of them. $30+ each.
 A toy sewing machine. I did manage to bargain on this one a little, $35.

Now a few pics of things not bought, just to give a little taste of the flea:


 (None of these were less than $125)

So, one flea market bucket list item checked off for me! Now I need to decide what's next for next year.

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Sarah. Sometimes I miss how in depth we could get in our blogs. I stopped posting on mine years ago. I love IG, but it’s a vicious cycle trying to post and stay current.

    I appreciate your candor when it comes to pricing and your review. I’m such a cheapskate and it’s been tough re-evaluating what to consider a bargain!

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