Don’t mess with Mother Nature!
Gifts and Collectibles Galore Goes on the road to flea markets
Are you a “flea-marketeer”? Do you enjoy going to flea markets and shopping for unusual items, bargains, or just something that catches your eye? Just think of all the vendors you walked by in their 20’ x 10’ tents. As a buyer, you walk around looking at all the various items the vendors are selling. Did you ever stop to think how all that stuff got there?
Behind the Scenes of a flea market vendor
Now let me take you behind the scene of one of these vendors…namely Me! Before going to a show or festival, I must select the merchandise. Getting the right merchandise for that show or market is an art in itself. Each show is different and so the merchandise has to be different… I am not going into this, instead I want to take you to various shows I attended and the problems I had with Mother Nature. It seems the last 2-3 years, I had a black cloud following me because every one of the flea markets had rained sometime during the show.
At the Winamac Power Show in N.E. Indiana, it was a beautiful day. My husband and I had already set up our merchandise. We were lucky at this flea market because we did not have to set up our two 10’ x 20’ tents since we were in one of the cattle buildings with open sides and a wooden fence around it. The floor was concrete. Everything was great. Customers were buying. What more could we ask for?
All of a sudden a storm came up with strong winds blowing across the building from the West Side to the East side of the building where we were. Everyone was grabbing their flying merchandise to save it from being damaged. Guess what? As fast as the wind came up, it was gone. It rained for about 20 minutes and all was well again. My friend and I went for a walk to see if there had been any damage elsewhere on the grounds. As we walked down one of the dirt roads, we spotted several tents down. One poor lady had been selling clothing. She was wringing out the clothes and hanging them up to dry. Her merchandise loses were great. Just one example of how it goes on the road.
My next adventure takes place during May at the Banks along the Wabash River Festival along the Wabash River. Our friends Mike and Sharon went with us with their merchandise and tent. Because this was a10 day festival along the banks of the Wabash River, we set up our 10’x 20’ tent next to each other. Now we had heard there was a possibility of strong storms heading our way. So, we decided to secure the two tents together and tie down every pole with ropes secured by weights and pegs into the ground. And, after setting up the tents, we all decided to not put out our tables and merchandise until morning after the storm had passed. Since the tents were up and secured, my friend Sharon and I decided to walk the dogs around the park, while the men did their thing… shoot the bull! As we were walking we were talking about a plan in the event, the weather really got bad. Little did we know the weather heading for us was bad!!!….really BAD! As we walked we noticed some port-a-potties next to a brick building. Sharon decided she needed to use one. While she was in the port-a-potty, I walked around the building thinking it was a supply building. It turned out to be restrooms. When Sharon came out, I teased her about roughing it when she could have gone into the brick building and used that facility.
We started laughing. We suddenly realized this would be our plan if the weather got bad we would get into this brick building. About this time, a guy came along talking on his cell phone about the weather. He actually showed us a radar picture on his cell phone of the approaching storm. We suddenly realized the storm was just minutes away and were talking about a BIG storm. We called our husbands told them to jump in the car and to meet us at the rest rooms. They no sooner arrived when the big storm hit. We ended up 6 adults and 3 dogs holding up in the female bathroom. There were no doors on the entrance… the building was in an “L” shape so we went to the furthest part away from the entrance. As we stood huddled together we listened to the roaring sounds of the howling winds and the hammering rain and hail on the roof above…let me tell you, it was SCARY!
At one point we peak around the entrance to see if we could see anything. The rain was coming down so hard, you could not see past the entrance. Then the rain lifted up a little and we could see the port-a-potties being blown over one by one…except the one Sharon had used. We asked Sharon if this was symbolic!! (We still tease her today about saving the only standing port-a-potty by using it just before the storm.) Night was deepening, yet the rain still persisted. The crashing thunder and blinding lightning told us the storm was not over. The only light we had came from the street lights and the carnival lights nearby. It was enough to show us that many tents were down including the big food tents. Sharon and I looked at each other and knew we would have damage at our site. A man came into the restroom to get out of the storm. The first thing he did was to light up a cigarette!!! All of a sudden we could hear a bubble – whoosh – bubble-whoosh and could smell sewer gas. We told him to get out before he caused an explosion. With the methane gas coming from the toilets we knew we could not stay inside the restroom so we had to go out into the rain.
We made our way back to where our tents were supposed to be. It looked like a bomb has exploded!! The two tents had been pulled up and thrown against our RV. We could not even get into our RV to access the damage. Yet, we had to get in. Our friend held the flashlight while, working in the rain and lightening, we all pulled on our tent poles trying to get to them away from the door. Finally, we were able to pull back a section of the tent and get inside the RV. Luckily all windows were still intact and no damage was seen inside.
We would have to wait until morning to see how much damage was done to the tents. In the morning we started to dissemble the tents and poles. This was hard work due to the fact poles were twisted, bent, and some almost split into two pieces. We spent almost two days trying to fix poles, installing new grommets for the ropes and bungee to hold onto the tent. God bless Duck Tape because we duck taped over every tear, hole and leaky seem we could find. Looking back I wish we could have had many colored duck tapes that way our tents would be very fashionable. Also that morning, we learned there had been category 1 tornado go over our area missing us but others in that town were not so lucky. For several days of the festival, many people were unable to attend due to the damage to their homes and trees being down in the roads. People told us many stories of narrow escapes and damage in their area. We were so lucky. And, very glad we had found the brick restrooms that give us shelter. When the festival was over, we packed up our “wounded” tents… counted our blessing…and headed home. Getting ready for the next show!! We are die-hard-gypsies at heart.
Earl Park Festival & Mother Nature Again!
We were scheduled to go to Earl Park, IN this Labor Day weekend for the Earl Park Festival and had planned on taking pictures of the “wounded” tents with all the tapes on its fabric and poles. However, after seeing what Hurricane Isaac had done in LA, AL, MS… and seeing Isaac was coming to our way, we decided not to tempt Mother Nature again …and stayed at home where it is safe.
Yes, there were other flea markets, shows where we rode out the weather from straight line winds, strong winds, floods, to heavy snow. I ask myself…why do we do this? For the Money? You got to be kidding!! When you pay out $200 – $300 for a 3-4 day festival and take in account all our expenses. i.e. food, gas, diesel, merchandise cost, ice for coolers, etc. and then not be able to sell due to Mother Nature…it can be heartbreaking sometimes. But when you have gypsy blood in you…it’s the excitement… the people… the sounds of the carnival…. the smells from the food vendors stands…..aw…we love it!!!
Believe it or not over the years…we have had a few flea markets outdoors that had good weather the entire time. Thanks for letting me share some of our experiences with Mother Nature and our flea market adventures. See you in the next Blog.