Oh, what fun it was to make a spur-of-the-moment trip to the infamous Alameda Flea Market (across the bay from San Francisco) just this last weekend. We came back with a load of goodies for the shops, and Robert will be unloading quite a bit of it on Thursday at our River Mall location. I suspect some of it will never even see the inside of the shop: the fun is to grab it straight out of our trailer or right off the lawn as we unload.
Here’s a little buying trip diary of our super romantic life (!) as shopkeepers. Saturday, 7.1.07. Thank god our staff is willing to work extra days while we’re out of town. We couldn’t do it without them. Hook up the trailer, double check all the equipment we’ll need (dolly, blankets, rope, bags, bubble wrap, cart…), drop off the dogs at camp, and hit the road (after doing a hundred other little things before we could leave). Arrive at our motel at 10pm, fall face down on bed. Alarm rings at 5:30am and Jan begs for another 1o minutes of sleep. Check out at 6:3o; breakfast not yet being served, so we go off to shop without so much as a latté to bolster us. Might be a Starbucks or something around here, but we have the bulky trailer behind us. Oh yeah, someone parked like an idiot and we spend 20 minutes jockeying the trailer around to get it hooked up again. At the flea market, we park a mile away and jump out to dash to the entrance.
Ugh. It’s still very early and we have to adjust our eyes to the gray of the morning. Fortunately, it’s cool and pleasant and even a bit foggy. The sunburn and searing heat come later. The flea market is an endless hodgepodge of stuff, from horrible to sublime. We see a lot of mid-century stuff and some of it is well-designed and fun, and other stuff is just plain schlocky. The chairs above were ugly when they were manufactured, and time has not made them prettier. Ditto the red leather loveseat. Now that little Danish modern table in the front is not half bad, and that hideous blue sofa I think would actually look pretty good reupholstered in a modern fabric. Nothing $1,000 couldn’t cure.
One fun thing about the flea market: there are so many amazing characters shopping and selling. We loved this fellow in his getup.
So we dash around for hours, zig zagging through the rows, making quick decisions about where our precious funds should go, taking notes on where we need to return to pick something up, shoveling kettle korn while we shop. You have to have a nifty fold-up cart to drag all the smalls around. I notice some of the serious girls have custom linings for their carts with spaces for bottled water and cell phones.
By 2pm we need to be circling back around to pick up some of our larger things and starting to load up the trailer. It takes much longer than we think because the truck is far away, and each load is only as much as the dolly can handle. Good thing we brought it, because the line for the big carts to borrow is a mile long. Oh, did I mention it’s bloody hot by now and we already know we’re sunburned, because we stupidly left our hats in the car.
Then it was up to Sonoma for a teeny bit of R&R. When we arrived at our hotel, we had a glass of wine and almost passed out in the lobby. It was all we could do to walk our bedraggled selves to the restaurant that evening. We might have skipped it altogether, except that we were malnourished from having eaten only kettle korn. Next day, more searching for treasures. We like to visit other dealers whenever we travel, and sometimes we find one great little thing, and sometimes, nada. We sure look at a LOT of schlocky stuff to find one good nugget. These little kitty salt & pepper shakers were just begging for a new home. Glad it’s not ours.