Jamestown flea market is actually The Marketplace at Jamestown in Morganton, NC. I’ve been going here for as long as I can remember. I don’t think it has changed much but I would say that it has changed enough for me to notice. So here are 3 tips for visiting for the first time or returning like me HINT: They are closer to the bottom if don’t want to wait for the story of trespassing one of my dearest childhood memories.
I don’t even know how long the flea market on Jamestown Rd. has been around but it has to be close to 40 years at least and I would bet longer than that even. I honestly didn't even know there was a sign until recently. I can remember going when I was young with my family. As I got older my mom stopped coming and often times it was just my dad and me.
Dad came for beef jerky from one guy and pork rinds. That is it and I remember standing at the glass(actually Plexiglas) window to watch them fry in the big pot. That is really the only thing that I ever remember my dad buying while he was at the flea market. I bought something anytime that I had money in pocket. I loved the flea market because the smallest amount of money would get you something there… I mean pennies literally.
I always had a side hustle. I started mowing the grass in my trailer park for about $10 per week when I was 10 years old. The landlord loved it but his wife not so much and she would often slip me an extra $5. It didn’t take me long to figure out that she was the boss and anytime she was outside working in her flower bed I was always willing to help because I knew she would toss a couple bucks my way.
I quit going to the flea market a long time ago. I decided to drag my family there a few years ago and they hated it. The cigarette smoke, people were kind of rude, it smelled funny, and the list just went on… To be honest, I wasn’t that thrilled with the experience either and I felt like it had changed or I had no desire for junk.
I didn’t go back for a long time after that until I started selling books and other stuff online. I went back hoping to rummage the junk piles and find something that I could sell online for a profit. Total waste of time… it was the same old junk but now it had a grip on me again. A small grip anyway, I eventually realized there were more profitable places for me to spend my time on a Saturday morning.
So as a few months marched on and I started to really get into vintage t-shirts I declared that I would return again to the Jamestown flea market. I was sure that I could pull something out of this decrepit old junk pile that was interesting enough for me to wash, wear, and write a blog post about… but no, no there isn’t. When I left the flea market this time I did something I never thought I would do in my life. I went to the flea market in Hickory. Springs Rd flea market has to be the arch nemesis of Jamestown in the world of flea markets. Sad, sad times in the Fowler household these days.
Anyway, I thought that since this is probably legitimately going to be my last time at Jamestown, I should write about it. No not the sappy story writing that I normally do but like a just in case you want to try it type post.
1. Don’t come before 9am
Back in the day, like 90’s, if you came to the flea market after 9am YOU WERE LATE! But now it seems like this bunch is just getting set-up around 9am. I arrived at 8am and quickly left to go find some yard sales to raid which what I’m telling you to do. There are plenty of residential neighborhoods within a couple of miles just map your way into one and look for yard sale signs.
2. Start at the top or the bottom
It makes it easier if you start at the top (entrance closest to the road) or the bottom( area farthest away from the road) and work in circles. Once you start in a building go all the way to the end of the building and go around to the next one and go to the end there. You will criss-cross yourself in a couple of places and have to see the same stuff again but it’s easier to keep up with where you have been.
3. Don't buy it as soon as you see it
Chances are it’s not a deal in this place. These people are thriving on our impulse to buy. I had never noticed that until this trip and makes negotiating for a better deal a must in this environment. I did try to do a couple of deals but even with the prices they were offering I wasn’t going to be able to bring the shirt home, repair, launder and package to ship out for a profit. I would even take a chance on breaking even or bringing a great piece to the table if I saw it but I didn’t see anything that I loved.
Jamestown is still a large flea market and draws a decent crowd. There is always food, plenty of junk and a multitude of characters which is what draws me to places to start with so I think it’s no wonder Jamestown will always have a place in my heart. It was the first place to introduce me to a different culture with a distinct rhythm and unique vibe. It was the closest thing to the city I had growing up.