Ten Things at the Eastbrook Flea Market

By on 29 March, 2016 in Fun, Kate and Stephen, Shopping with 0 Comments

We’re noted junk store enthusiasts. We’ve written about our adventures in Southeast Alabama and elsewhere here, but the other day it occurred to us that we’ve (weirdly) never written a post about one of Montgomery’s great treasures – the Eastbrook Flea Market. Which is a shame, because Eastbrook is really a wonderful place and we’ve been there a million times. First of all, it’s gigantic. It’s so big that it’s easy to become disoriented, especially in the basement. Second, it covers a wide economic spectrum. You can find anything from expensive antiques to stuff that looks like it might be freshly picked off of a curb. Third, it’s diverse. Unlike some places that mostly have furniture, or clothes, Eastbrook has everything and then some. It’s a great place to go if you need something, but it’s even more fun to go just to poke around for a while.

We didn’t have any intention of buying anything this past weekend, but managed to leave with about $30 worth of assorted oddities (some that we rationalized as holiday gifts for friends). To showcase the wonders of Eastbrook, this week we present you (in no particular order) with ten things we did not buy.

1. Old Montgomery Hat Boxes. These were in several stalls throughout Eastbrook. These were in beautiful condition and surprisingly affordable (one was just $5). They made us wish that we’d been able to see the city’s grand old department stores, and made us remember tales of Normandale’s heyday. We didn’t buy them because, well, what do you do with hat boxes if you don’t have hats? They’d make really cool locally-themed decorations in a guest room, but our real estate is currently occupied. We hope they’ll find a good home and be well preserved.

2. Order of Neptune Certificate. Many people probably don’t know what this is, but we’d seen one before – Kate’s father had one. It’s given as part of a ceremony when sailors cross the Equator. The ceremony itself has a long (and often troubling) history – if you’re interested, the Wikipedia entry is worth a look. Whoever George W. Keating is (or was), this was probably an important keepsake from his military service. We didn’t buy it because we don’t have a place to put this sort of thing, but it’s a great example of the kind of history that you can explore right in your local junk shop. Hidden narratives are awesome.

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3. Assorted Starting Lineup Figures. We love sports and we have a good number of sports-themed “collectables” in our house, including a few of these items from the late 1980s. IT’d be fun to have one of these representations of a player you particularly loved (or hated). And they’d make a great gift for the sports fan in your life that might have some space on an office desk for a conversation piece. But the idea that they’ll be “worth more” because they are still in their original packaging is probably pretty absurd. Who knows, though? Maybe these mint condition figurines will be highly coveted by fans of Keith Van Horn, or people looking to complete the whole set. We smiled at some good memories and passed on buying any of these plastic treasures.

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4. Jadeite Items. Jadeite is something we always look for in junk shops, but it’s expensive and usually scooped up by collectors. It’s also often not the real thing. Eastbrook stalls offer both vintage jadeite items as well as reproductions. There’s something magical about the color of this glassware that lights up a certain kind of kitchen, and it fits with a decorating style that’s a little bit retro – like many of our Midtown homes. Note that the owner of this booth knows what they have and secures the items in a case. Because they’re real, they were a little out of our price range, but we admired them all the same.

5. This Painting. For reasons that should require no explanation.

P10607976. Old Saw. Items like this are a common feature of junk shops, no matter what part of the country you are in. Rusted tools, agricultural or woodworking especially, are hallmarks of interior decorators looking to add some “texture” or “rural authenticity” to various homes and hunting cabins. The transformation of tools of labor into aesthetic garnish is a powerful reminder of the ever-churning machine of consumption and commodification, moving physical items up a metaphorical ladder from shacks and tool sheds into lake houses and Cracker Barrel restaurants. That rusted pitchfork, plow, or butter churn will say to your visitors that you have some wispy connection to people of substance, even if you’ve never worked a day in your life. Or maybe you’re just into nostalgia, and will enjoy muttering to yourself about how kids today staring at their phones will never know the stresses of cleaning clothing on a washboard.

P10608127. Incredible Organ. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, Eastbrook can surprise you around every corner. We were just in awe of this beautiful organ, with its startling variety of mint-condition keys designed to produce what seems like every possible sound and rhythm. We wanted to take a photo of every tab and knob. It would be amazing the sounds it could make, and we’d love to talk to the person who could tinker with the insides of a machine like this. We’ve got an old Kimball organ at the house, so we didn’t need another, but we really hope this will find its way into some gifted hands.

8. Vintage Dress. One of Eastbrook’s true treasures is the lovingly curated collection of vintage clothing in the basement. Shopping for vintage clothes can be challenging, because sizes vary (and have changed over time as American waistlines have expanded). Luckily, there’s a changing room so you can actually try things on if you like. This lovely dress didn’t quite fit right, which was too bad, because it’s reasonably priced and perfect for spring. Next time you’re looking for clothes or a costume, it’s worth the trip to Eastbrook to find something gently pre-worn.

P10608039. Comics. There are a few places in Eastbrook to buy comics, but we’re sad to say that we find them pretty over-priced, even when they’re “on sale.” This stall in the basement has the biggest trove – we didn’t get anything, but if you’re a collector, they might just have some key pieces for you. The practice of over-pricing things will sometimes suggest a bulk approach so that individual comics wouldn’t have to be looked up in a price guide. But this pricing scheme manages to price low-value comics too high, and higher-value comics way too high. But if the owner of this stall is selling comics at these prices, who are we to complain?

P106080210. Pirate Coconut Head. Sometimes you see items in a junk store that make you turn your head and marvel. Sometimes you see things that make you shake your head with dismay. If we live in a world where someone spent time carving this, and can now get money in exchange for it, well, worse things are happening every day. Needless to say, this did not come home with us, but presumably has been purchased by someone by the time you are reading this.

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Kate and Stephen are Midtown residents with two cats, a dog, ten fish, a garden, an old house and a sense of adventure. They write about life in Midtown here and about life in Montgomery at their blog Lost in Montgomery.

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