a student abroad from another country, I found American’s culture interesting
and worth learning. All the shopping malls, restaurants, etc… have their
minimum standards which I think are too good for me. To the point that I once
thought they don’t have any street food or street market in the US. But after
four months living here, my uncle brought me to a place that stuck in my mind
as a new side of American’s culture, a flea market in San Francisco,
we go, my uncle explained some of his standards about a good flea market: ” The
first standard of choosing flea market is it has to be outside. Those indoors
markets are “throw away”, where they usually sell unused goods with low quality.
Secondly, the more noisy, more street style is the better market. Do not go to
markets that are too orderly, where the goods are usually expensive and not
much we could find.” He also told me to avoid the flea markets where many
seller are Vietnamese and Chinese, choose the Mexicans. I still don’t know why
My uncle brought me to one of the most popular flea
market in California. He said because this one is located near where the rich
people live, so they are more likely to have what we asked for.
can be said that the flea market is a minimal version of American history. Here
I could find things that seem to be useless, but they’re hundreds years old
according to my uncle. Something like a leather saddle, a Ford rubber tire with
wooden cover, letter written dates from the 1800’s, oak tables and chairs with
saw a lot of people come here to buy clothes, and a flea market is an ideal
place to find. Besides all the second-hand stuffs, there are also many new
things, including the tag of manufacturer or some famous malls in the US. I
found myself a brand new Levi’s jeans
with tag for only ten bucks. My uncle explained that only flea markets in
California have these jeans because San Francisco is the hometown of the brand.
Those are all the items come directly from the factory, some of them still have
the ” sample” tag.
and lenses of all kinds are sold for only five dollars per unit, incredible!
piles of goods are concentrated in one place with a sign that said ” $1″. You
have that power to dig in those goods, who knows if you have some luck that get
you a rare piece of pokemon card for one dollar. I have got no luck, but my
uncle was. He dig into those $1 bins and found himself a Leica camera which he
sold for $150 on Ebay on the next day.
who like to collect war items should also visit the flea market. Uniforms,
backpacks, shovels, Zippo lighters with owner’s name, unit, time and battle
location. They also have other countries stuffs like German Nazi uniforms,
British helmet, the SSh-36 helmet from Soviet Union. You can find a diary or
souvenir of the soldiers from different wars in different counties.
addition to the stalls selling stuffs I mentioned above, I was very surprised
with the stalls that I called ” mixed stalls” because I don’t understand what
they sell, and who is the buyer. Call it a stall is a little bit too much, just
a piece of plastic spread on the ground, the owner sat next to it,
absent-mindedly read newspapers or chewing burgers. In front is an old radio
that lost the knob, a large “brick” phone, some dolls without arms or feet.
about price? In flea market, the prices are generally cheap. But you can
comfortably negotiate the price without the fear of making the seller angry.
Normal items only ranged from one to forty, fifty dollars. If the price is $100
or above, it is usually goods sold by the business resellers. They know the
real value of items they sell.
all the messy of business negotiations, some people just come to the flea
market as their weekend activities, a kind of window shopping (go see the goods
but not going to buy). These people are just relaxing on the chairs with their
drinks ready, and smile at everybody.
market is another side of American’s culture, the idea of a little countryside in
a civilized country is really stands out.