30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Flea Market

I miss finding amazing deals at my local flea markets.  It wasn't that long ago... that I could count on those purchases to provide at least a couple of posts each month.  But things change.  No longer am I willing to buy anything and everything.  Plus... I'm a lot more meticulous about how I spend my money.

Nevertheless... there were still plenty of regular vendors set up at the De Anza Flea Market with sports memorabilia this past Saturday.  And today I'll give you an idea of what you can expect to find at my favorite once a month, middle class, community college flea market.

Vendor #1:  The Local

This guy targets the grandmother looking to buy something for her twelve year old grandchild who loves sports, because he/she made the honor roll again.  He carries everything from Golden State Warriors lanyards to San Francisco Giants bobbleheads to San Francisco 49ers team sets.  If you're a fan of a Bay Area sports team, then he probably has at least something for you.

In the past he's had a pretty cool dollar bin, but over the years it's been picked over and I haven't seen anything of interest in awhile.  The rest of his inventory is pretty pricey, but he balances that out with one heck of a selection.

Vendor #2:  The Used Car Salesman

If you've got time to kill... then this guy is pretty entertaining.  If you don't... it's annoying.

Every time I stop by his stand, I feel like I stepped into a used car dealership.

He lures you to his area with some pretty cool stuff like vintage baseball cards, old comic books, and a solid selection of autographed sports memorabilia.  And as soon as you walk up, he goes in for the kill with the stereotypical salesperson routine.  Question.  Up sale.  Repeat.

I've actually been interested in a few of his items, but to be honest his personality and prices rub me the wrong way.

Vendor #3:  The Figure Guy

If you're looking for McFarlanes or mini helmets, then this is your one stop shop.  I'm not sure what the deal was this month, but he typically has a lot bigger selection.  He's a nice guy and his prices are definitely competitive.

I've purchased a few items from him in the past like a Rickey Henderson McFarlane and a Crazy George bobblehead and there's a good chance that I'll buy something from him again in the future.

Vendor #4:  Mr. Outdated Prices and Son

This father and son partnership has been around for a couple of years now.  Back in 2014, I picked up a Troy Tulowitzki autograph from them for $10.  Sadly... I've never bought anything from them again.

They have a ton of Hot Wheels, a few Junk Wax Era wax boxes, and a variety of sports singles.  Unfortunately their stuff is way overpriced.  Interested in that box of 1990 Fleer baseball?  Probably not.  But if you were, you'd have to hand over $18.  How about that 1985 Topps Roger Clemens rookie card for $15?  It would be interesting to find out how much money they earn each month off of sports card sales, because I'd be surprised if they made a single sale.

On a positive note... they offer great customer service.  They're sort of like the Nordstrom of sports card dealers.

Vendor #5:  The Supply Guy

Back in February... I wrote a post about the passing of a guy I called Flea Market Joe.  If you ever shopped at De Anza or the Branham Flea Market and purchased card supplies, then it was probably from him.

Well his good buddy Pete has inherited the business.  In addition to supplies, he also sells a variety of sports memorabilia and collectibles ranging from Wizard of Oz dolls to Lego sets.

His prices are hit or miss.  He's the guy who sold me two 1989 Donruss Baseball's Best factory sets for $5 back in January... which is a pretty fair price.  But he's also the same guy who tried to sell me a Kurt Suzuki autographed bobblehead for $50.

Vendor #6:  The Toy Guy

Honestly... there are probably ten to twelve toy vendors who set up each month at De Anza.  I chose this guy, because I have actually purchased from him a few times over the years.

The first time I met him, he sold me ten The Road Warrior figures for $20.  Since then, I have purchased a bunch of Star Wars, McFarlanes, and SLU's from this guy.  The photo above captured one of the few times his booth isn't swamped with kids and parents digging through his stuff.

Although I haven't bought anything from him lately... I'm sure it's only a matter of time before I make my next purchase.

Vendor #7:  Dime Box Dude

Meet Tony.  Tony is one chill dude.  If you're ever at De Anza, make sure to stop by and dig though his cheap bins.

Technically he doesn't advertise any dime boxes, but he has several quarter bins and if you spend enough... he'll lower his price down to a dime a piece.  I have spent a lot of money at his booth.  He's the guy who sells me his highly discounted blaster box leftovers.

I can't remember his buddy's name, but he's cool too and has a vast knowledge of non-sports issues.  My normal routine is to walk around the whole flea market and end up at their booth, where I'll kick back and hang with them until it's time for me to head out.

Vendor #8:  The Artist

This isn't really sports related, but I know some of you appreciate art.  Last Saturday, I met a retired gentleman named Jorge who enjoys drawing in his spare time.  We hit it off and he shared a few stories from his childhood in Argentina.

I was surprised at how affordable his drawings were.  He was only charging $10 for any of the drawings on the ground.  Not bad for a one of a kind piece of artwork.

Well that's all for now.  On Thursday, I'll share the handful of flea market finds I acquired over the past few trips to the flea market.  Until then...

Happy Tuesday and sayonara!


  1. Thanks for the tour through your flea market - I'm quite jealous of the pickings. The last time I went to my local flea market, I accidentally walked into a argument between patrons threatening to shoot each other. Just life on the South Side of Chicago.

    Also, something about the name Tony just lends itself to chill dudes; just sayin'.

    1. I don't know -- I always heard that Tonys were a bunch of jerks.

      Wait -- just me?

    2. Yes, just me. I should be clear -- I am kidding.

      I'm not super chill, mind you, but I do try.

  2. That's quite a variety of vendors. I wish I had a flea market near me!

  3. I haven't been to a flea market in like 24 years. I keep saying 'one of these days...'

  4. I usually hit one of my local flea markets 2-3x a month. Of course I spend the whole day with my dealer buddy Bob.

  5. Fantastic run down-like a Yelp review. Who could pass up the Rocket Rookie Card for $15 :).

  6. Plenty of stuff to poke around at your flea market. I attend something similar every so often and there's some variety but nothing like the table Tony and his pal has set up there. One day I'll have the pleasure of running my fingers through a load of quarter boxes, one day *day dreams*

  7. The figure guys hate me because I don't buy figures. I love getting them and can always find a place to put them, but it seems like a slippery slope to start buying them.

  8. Great rundown. Makes me jealous we don't have something like that here.

  9. Man I would love to check out those toys looking to hunt down pieces of my childhood. It would also help extend Reminiscing 90s segment!

  10. Thanks for the rundown. I always wonder about the type of people that put $15 on a Clemons rookie. Are they completely unaware of the market or are they price gouging hoping that some unsuspecting Mom will stop and buy her kids cards.

  11. Where's the guy who always hits up the other vendors before the public has a chance to go in and buys up all of the cheap/nice deals and then brings them to their table and jacks up the prices?

  12. tony b - my buddy tony in high school was a jerk. him and his brother devised a plan to rip off my baseball card collection where one distracted me while the other snuck into my room and grabbed my cards. long story short... they were busted selling my collection at my lcs and we weren't friends after that. good news... all the tonys after that have been cool. as for getting shot... it's not that likely at this particular flea market. however the other one i go to is pretty bad.

    the lost collector - thanks. it really is a great flea market to walk around. shame it only takes place once a month

    section 36 - yeah...these are the regulars. in a good month there's also a few random guys cleaning out their closets. those are always fun to hit up.

    the chop keeper - if you have them in your area, you should give them a shot. but be warned... they're pretty addicting.

    john miller - yeah if my buddy mike sets up, i try to hang for at least a few hours. i just don't have the attention span to hang the entire day though. it's the main reason i don't set up myself.

    b-man - thanks buddy. i can pick it up for you next month if you'd like. i'm sure it will still be sitting there fading a little with each passing month.

    brad parsons - i hope somebody like tony sets up in your area. tony definitely has a few loyal customers that love flipping through his stuff.

    the junior junkie - i've had to stop. once upon a time... my office shelves were cluttered with opened slu's and mcfarlanes. i had to bag about 70% of them and store them. and that's not including all of my sealed figures i've collected over the years.

    r laughton - thanks. if it makes you feel any better, i've never seen any sumo cards ;) out here

    sport card collectors - then you need to take a road trip out to the bay area. we have a pretty cool toy show a few times a year plus our flea markets (especially the lower end flea market i go to) are saturated with toys.

    matthew scott - pretty sure this guy is just living in the past. and if he is sitting on that unsuspecting mom, she hasn't shown up.

    zippy zappy - i'm pretty sure ALL of them do it. and i know for sure that the supply guy and the local do it, because i run into them at the ghetto market on sundays