Spent my Sunday morning with my family at the Pasadena City College Flea Market. Don’t always get to arrive as early as you’d like or stay as long when you’re carting around an 18-month-old, but it’s still worth the trip. The clothes are mostly at the Rose Bowl, where you’re elbow-to-elbow with Japanese vintage dealers carting around huge military duffels… but I still came home with a little something.
Yesterday, I made a trip out to the Pasadena City College flea market here in Southern California. Above: the spoils from the trip. A small hand-held megaphone advertising the deco-era Los Angeles department store Desmond’s ($10), a silk paisley scarf ($15) and a tiny 1940s silver airplane lapel pin ($5). Not bad for a morning’s idyll.
One of the best parts of living in Southern California is the access to great flea markets almost every weekend of the month. First week of the month is Pasadena City College, third week is Long Beach, fourth week Santa Monica, plus Hollywood every weekend and the granddaddy of them all, the Rose Bowl Flea.
My favorite flea is the PCC, but the Rose Bowl is the biggest of the bunch. I headed out this morning looking for furniture for my new place, and ended up with a lovely coffee table, a big old California flag and a concrete bunny rabbit.
The Rose Bowl Flea is truly enormous, with a huge section selling swap meet crap, a huge antiques-and-collectibles area (where I bought my furniture) and the biggest vintage clothing area I’ve ever seen. The vintage clothing is very much geared towards women and Japanese dealers - you can find all sorts of militariana, work boots, vintage Patagonia fleeces and semi-ironic t-shirts but not a lot of tailored clothes.
I was there for the furniture, but I made sure to stop by and visit Sam, my favorite vendor, who always has a great selection of shoes. Because of the Japanese dealer factor, he often brings mostly small sizes, and I’m a 12, so I don’t frequently buy from Sam, but unlike most of the dealers, he’s a man of taste.
It’s a testament to the drawing power of the Rose Bowl that Sam and his colleague drive out every month from Atlanta, Georgia. I was hoping to plug his consignment shop, but he told me that his rent got hiked and he had to close it up and move to eBay. You can still catch him once a month in Pasadena and at Smiley’s Flea Market in Macon, Georgia.
Q & A
Jesse (a different Jesse, I promise) writes:
Hi, I understand that nice unique things cost more money than mass produced run of the mill clothing does, but can you please try to cover the just barely above the poverty line demographic a little more? Maybe some thrift store tips or how to meet boosters in your community even if there is not an already established community of boosters present in your own.
First of all, congratulations of having the best name around.
Second of all, we can’t endorse buying stolen clothing. You’d probably end up in a Coogi sweater, anyway. That said, until things start looking better, there are things you can do to look good on a budget.
First and foremost: get to know the second-hand clothing market.
Some places to consider:
- Consignment stores
- Thrift stores
- Flea markets
- Clothing forums (fora?)
You can get high quality clothing from any of these sources for pennies on the dollar. The key is being able to sift the wheat from the chaff, and putting in some time behind the sifter. Also, stretching metaphors to their limits.
Look for names you know, learn names you don’t, and find stuff that fits. Save searches on Ebay, keep your eyes on the forums, and above all: don’t waste your money on crap. Make a plan and execute it - build a wardrobe, don’t throw your money at passing fancies.
We’ll have more about this stuff in the future, but that’s somewhere to start.