Living Wright: Tulsa Flea market trip yields hidden treasures
BY JASON ASHLEY WRIGHT World Scene Writer
Thursday, February 07, 2013
2/07/13 at 5:14 AM
Of all the markets in the world, I'd argue the flea market is most unfortunately named.
As a kid, having never been to a flea market, I conjured images of wingless vermin sucking my blood at the grocery store. Yes, even in my most nightmarish scenarios, food is involved.
Truth is, I had never been to a flea market until 1999, a year after I moved to Tulsa. So, more than 13 years later, I thought I was overdue for a visit to the Tulsa Flea Market, one of those items on my list of weekend activities I've either never done before or, in this case, haven't in quite some time.
Now in its 41st year, the flea market is held most Saturdays at the Tulsa Fairgrounds. Throughout February, it will be held at the Super Duty Arena, which was swarming with collectors, vendors and general onlookers this past weekend when I went with Bro. GoGo and Stache.
I wasn't on the lookout for anything specific - is that a bad or a good strategy when flea-marketing? I just assumed that if I needed something, it would jump out at me - like the two kinds of English toffee and sea salt chocolate I bought at the Dutchess Chocolates booth ($10, total). We were able to meet owner Dan Brandt but not his lovely wife, Jennifer.
Otherwise, I didn't get to know any of the other vendors at the market. A couple eyed me with greater suspicion than usual as I stared at their stuff and typed notes into my phone - fun things like "The Marvelous Michael Jackson" children's book in a bin with a sign that heralded halved prices though I couldn't find any on the two books I picked up).
I was hoping some of the booths or tables or whatever would be named, but apparently they're just numbered - such as No. 13, which had some really fun lamps. One incorporated a doctor's bag with a stethoscope and a reflex hammer ($150).
"I can do $125," Mr. 13 said. He also pointed out a gorgeous display of turquoise jewelry in a glass case.
I asked if he was always in the same place, and he shook his head. So good luck finding him again.
Ditto for the table on the corner of the outside perimeter with some really cute bracelets made out of typewriter keys ($30). He also had rings - $12 each or two for $20.
Among my favorite finds that I may have to go back and snag are two old metal lawn chairs like my Mamaw Wright used to have before the Glade tornado of 1987 blew them away. Just $20 each and similar to a style of vintage-inspired lawn chairs I saw at a certain store in town for a few hundred dollars. And these were the real deal.
Ditto for an awesome U.S. Navy recruitment poster ($25) with a woman in a sailor hat and the caption, "Gee!! I wish I were a man ... I'd join the Navy!"
Almost anything you can think of, they had it at the market: sunglasses, paperback romances, kids' toys, vinyl records (Blondie and The Clash, even), hand-cut metal steak branders ($8 each), fresh produce and political buttons from the '70s, '80s and '90s, like "Ford & Dole," "Nixon Now" and "Impeach Clinton Now!"
It's a leashed-dog-friendly place, too, from what I saw - just be sure to clean up after your pet if he or she makes a mess. Ditto for kids, I imagine.
And bring cash. A few folks took Visa, but I had to borrow $10 from Stache to purchase my four-disc collection of previously viewed B-movie slasher films. (There is an ATM available at the flea market, though.)
Admission is free. For more, check out tulsaworld.com/tulsafleamarket
Donna Galvin from western Kansas looks at a collectibles stand at a previous Tulsa Flea Market at the Tulsa Fairgrounds. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World file