flea market feature- montsweag adventure!

17 05 2010

as i mentioned yesterday (as i ever so classily begged for you to enter my contest), this weekend i took the first trip of the season to my favorite seasonal flea market in maine. i’ve been compiling and manicuring my list of best maine flea markets since last fall, but i thought it might be worthwhile to do a little profile of some of the superstars as i thrift my way through the summer months.

the montsweag flea market, located on a fairly low-key stretch of route one in woolwich (in between bath and wiscasset), opens on mother’s day weekend (weather permitting), and shuts back down “when the tourists stop coming”. it’s literally nothing more than a vacant lot filled with aging plywood tables and a few summer camp cabin-like shanties, but for some reason, this is where all the A+ people come to set up shop. no, it’s not all faberge eggs and first editions, it’s still a lot of crazy crap just like other flea markets… but it’s the BEST crazy crap in town. the judgment criteria:

1. new stuff is kept to a minimum. (i’m talking about you cascade) how horribly disappointing is it to go to what you think is a cool flea market, only to be assaulted by dollar store tchotchkes and ultra-trashy OOB-worthy t-shirts (ex: “if i wanted to hear what you had to say, i’d take my cock out of your mouth” heartwarming!). nobody wants this shit, sand it’s always uncomfortable to walk by your table, so please cut it out! (montsweag only had one table of this variety- dragon statuettes i think).

2. there’s lots of old stuff. even when it’s not worth anything, old stuff feels sexy, mysterious, exciting. from antique to retro, i wanna dive into boxes of musty old socially irrelevant books, try on enormous vintage cocktail rings, smell the mothballs of long forgotten fabric stashes, and fiddle with exotic examples of outmoded technology. going to the flea market should be like going on an archeological dig. i want to rifle through crumbling cardboard bins of relics feeling like every single thing is going to make me an ebay millionaire.

3. there’s lots of weird stuff. i want to see nightmare inducing creepy old toys, stacks of water damaged low-rent retro porn magazines, and at least a 10% saturation of stuff that elicits the comment “what the fuck is this?”. even if you come home with nothing, your day will never feel wasted if you spent the majority of your time pointing out the hilarity & terror to your fellow flea-marketers (also, this this a great place to work on your prop comedy).

4. prices are reasonable & they’re willing/ready to haggle. there’s a ton of antique stores and flea markets that easily meet the above criteria for awesome stuff, but cruelly price it just out of reach. what’s exciting about a box or a field full of incredible stuff that you want but can’t afford? why not just go browse the cartier? i bet they don’t have a port-a-potty (a minimal downside, but there isn’t a hook on the door and i was forced to wear my purse around my neck like a feedbag to avoid contamination).

if i was going to get in the habit of giving out stars, montsweag would easily gets a 4.5 out of 5. it meets all of the above critera with gusto, and save for the porta-john issues and the dragon statuettes, from vintage toys to scary dolls, they know what i like. plus, if you do so much as breathe near an item- someone will offer you a deal. bring cash (small bills), go early (the dealers get there at the crack of dawn), and prepare to be surprised (make sure you have room in your trunk). the boyfriend offered to buy 3 vintage cameras from a dealer for $15, and ended up with a rubbermaid tote full for $20. you can check out the rest of my montsweag exploration on flickr, or you can get your ass to wiscasset and have your own adventure. this weekend is supposed to be sunny and 70s, where do i go next?

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6 responses

18 05 2010
blackgirlinmaine

You are right that Cascades sucks, its only 10 mins from me and its rare to find anything good there. Though every now and then you can find something really cool there but its rare.

The Montsweag flea market looks amazing, might be worth getting up early one weekend. It sounds awesome and the fact they allow haggling is a plus, I love the places on Rt 1 going south (antique marts, etc) but you are right some are pretty damn pricey.

18 05 2010
bessmarvin

i always want the cascade to be good, but it’s balls every time. every now and again i can find something if i dig deep enough, but it really isn’t fun. montsweag is awesome, and as long as you get there before 10, there should still be some good stuff. i’m presently obsessed with finding every good (and cheap) flea market in maine. any recommendations that haven’t already made the list?

18 05 2010
megan

what, exactly, do you mean by oob worthy, hmmm?

18 05 2010
bessmarvin

oh no! are you from old orchard? hand to god, that is a direct quote from a shirt i saw there last summer. if you’re not from OOB, it’s like a french canadian atlantic city with no casinos and more speedos. in short, the totally sweetest place you can visit on a hot summer night.

20 05 2010
InfamousQBert

if you ever visit dallas, you MUST visit both Lula B’s and The Dolly Python. TDP is ESPECIALLY rife with “WTF is this?!” items.

23 05 2010
bessmarvin

how can i not love a store called DOLLY PYTHON. look out dallas, here i come!

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