The list of 100 things to do in the Phoenix area is pretty comprehensive from museums and galleries, restaurants and food joints, and even includes a ginormous fabric store and a place to watch bats at night. The Mesa Market Place Swap Meet didn’t make the cut; I suspect it would have come in at #101, yet here we were, with a couple thousand other retirees with too much time on our hands, looking for the next great bargain. (By the way, I did ask if we could barter – nope, nor did I see any swapping going on, so I am a bit confused by the name.)
Four long rows and 1500 vendors, though it’s safe to say, probably no more than 500 different offerings due to the huge number of repeat products. Teddie was even on hand to provide entertainment in the food court so we could could chill to some Motown while we noshed on chili dogs and nachos before we stepped out for round two of what they call “recreational shopping”. And oh yes, we left with things we didn’t even know we needed, but wasn’t that the point of the entire excursion?
The next day was the huge garage sale in our community center’s parking lot, so I had to go check out the scene. I wasn’t there at 7:00 am when it opened as had been suggested, because trust me, there was nothing more that I’d find that I knew I didn’t want. I have a feeling the man trying to sell the boat motor in the middle of the desert was going to haul that back home again.
We’ve also hit some of the estate sales in the adjoining neighborhood in search of nothing, yet leaving with sheet music, a salad spinner, and a glass pedestal cake plate, exactly like the kind I’ve never even looked for.
And through all of this, I kept asking, how did we (as in we Americans) develop this fascination with collecting and hanging on to so much junk? I doubt that either Kathy or I really needed the new pairs of shoes that we each purchased, just to wear in the house– they are more than slippers, but I can’t call them house shoes, because my grandma had those, and I’m just not that old. And our new bottle sling thingeys for all the hiking we’re not doing? Look for those at our local Goodwill in a couple of years.
Part of it is the “look, I’ve never seen this before”, and why would I – I never go into a store that sells things to hikers. Or the idea we are really getting a good bargain. That’s the collecting.
But it’s also our inability to pass things on while they may still have a useful purpose to someone else. I’m really good about keeping my clothes closets thinned out, but oh my, I have junk drawers filled with stuff “I might need some day.” You too, I imagine. It takes one estate sale with partial bottles of Aqua-Velva and Old Spice, open tubes of denture cream, or pole lamps from the – oh, who even remembers when, but it all provides the inspiration to get cleaning when I get back to Michigan.
I’ve had the good fortune to visit many great markets around the world and it provides a snapshot of the culture I think. Seoul, Korea; Bankgok, Thailand; Istanbul, Turkey; Budapest, Hungary. And now, I can add Mesa, Arizona. I pray no one is judging our culture by this single experience.
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