Back in the early 70’s I moved back to Trion. It was 1974 to be exact. Kirsten was only two years old. Ted was still a couple of years on down the line and Matt wasn’t even thought about yet. I worked in the mill as a supervisor back then and those were the high water days of denim. We were working 7 days a week with only Christmas day off. It was grueling.
One of the things the denizens of the mill liked to do back then was trade knives. Yep, you heard me right. While we were watching the denim run through the sanforizers we would dicker and argue over knives, whose was the best, and if we would get a dollar or two boot for the one we wanted. Case was the big name maker, and the bone handled ones were the most sought after. I collected quite a few knives in my four years there.
Somewhere along about the late 70’s some guys got the idea to start congregating down at the Triangle shopping center to trade knives and some other stuff, and Trade Day in Chattooga country was born. It lasted there for a year or two and then when they didn’t want it there anymore, it moved down to it’s current spot halfway between Trion and Summerville. Jane owned it and then later on it was Jane and Larry.
Since those humble beginnings of “knife swapping” Trade Days and Flea markets have proliferated throughout America for the last nearly forty years. People in this country buy lots of stuff and then they end up having a lot of stuff they don’t need. You could also find some good bargains back in the “day” A lot of folks starting “specializing” in different kinds of things: knives, coins, jewelry, military, clothes, books, china, pottery, etc. and would have the “best of the best” in those areas of collection. You would learn who would have what, and would make a trip to see them every week on Tuesdays and Saturdays (around here, other places had/have theirs on different days) There was some good collectibles back then. I collected everything I think. Starting with the knives which I held onto for many years, then to baseball cards, and comic books, and hot wheels, marbles, and jewelry. I did a lot of trading and buying and some selling. I have met so many wonderful people over the years at Trade Day and other flea markets. I’ve become good friends with so many of them. It’s been a great hobby and pastime. I’ve had a very patient and wonderful wife, who has put up with a lot of “junk” coming and going over the years.
Over the past 5 years or so, the Trade Day and other flea markets have changed. The atmosphere is just not the same anymore….at least for me.
What you used to see years ago were local people coming down in their cars with their excess stuff in the trunk with maybe one table and just being there to get rid of things they didn’t want, or maybe the stuff that belonged to their folks or grandfolks that they didn’t need or want anymore. Nowadays pretty much all you see are the “pros” These are the dealers who come there every week, week after week, with pretty much either the same items, or the same items with a few new things thrown in. They have their five or six tables, their trucks and trailers. They have banners and flyers. Some of them travel the country, or at least regionally selling the same items.
Then you have the “storage wars” folks. These are the people who buy out storage buildings that the people who bought too much stuff back in the seventies and eighties have put it in, and then couldn’t pay their rent, or didn’t want to pay their rent. They bring big truckloads of everything imaginable in cardboard boxes, and lay it out on the ground and people go through it, hold something up and say “how much is this?” The guy who owns it shouts out a price and you either buy it, or put it back. Most of time I totally skip these guys as most of the “good” stuff has been pulled out by them before they come to the market and they sell “the good stuff” to high dollar collectors or scrap the gold and silver jewelry for cash. I just don’t like digging through those boxes. I’ve seen people’s entire lives, including their personal belongings, their family photos, their clothes and possessions, including their i.d., sold out down at Trade day. It’s sad.
Also, now there are the new “grocery wars” guys who buy the slightly out of date, or nearly out of date stuff, the excess stuff, and the returned stuff and bring huge truckloads of it to the market to sell out. I’ll admit, I get my coffee and some other stuff from these guys. Whey pay full retail, when you can get the stuff for pennies on the dollar? This is the place where I see a lot of retirees and people who work for minimum wage at the local burger joints or for Walmart. One of the ways these folks live is by “shopping” at the flea markets and Trade days…as they have evolved into something of a “super variety” store for the poor. (Along with the big Salvation Army Stores, and the Goodwill stores…which is where I buy most of my clothes and other things I really need for daily use)
All that being said, I still go on Tuesdays and Saturdays. I’ve picked up so much junk over the years that I need to get rid of that I got to! I’ll probably keep going until I can’t go anymore because it just sort of gets in the blood. It’s not the same as it used to be, but….what is?