30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Road Trip Pt. 3: Greatest Flea Market On Earth

Welcome to the third and final leg of last weekend's Southern California road trip.

On Sunday my buddy Mike and I headed over to the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena which claims to be the greatest flea market on earth.

Was it?  Well... here's my experience.  I'll let you be the final judge.

First off... the flea market has a tiered system for admission.  The earlier you go in, the more you pay.  We arrived at around 7:30am, so admission was $18 per person.  That's not a typo $18 per person.  When you add $15 for parking, we were already at over $25 per person just to get inside.

If you're wondering what I usually pay, here's a list of fees for my local flea markets:

ADe Anza$5 Parking and Free Admission
BBranham High SchoolFree Parking and Free Admission
CCapitol Flea MarketFree Parking and $2.25 Admission (on Sundays)

Now to be fair... we could have waited until after 9am when admission drops down to $9 and there's supposedly a bunch of free parking there.  However since we were new to this flea market, we sucked it up and paid for premium parking.

Okay... let's get to the shopping.

The flea market is organized into sections: arts and crafts, new merchandise, antiques and collectibles, and vintage clothing.  Originally, we planned on walking around the entire place to get our money's worth.  However about halfway through we remembered that there was another flea market that we had success at back in 2014, so we decided to cut out early and only walk around the antiques and collectibles section.

Purchase #1Wax Packs  $5

There were a few guys who had sports cards, but only one had decent deals.  I'm not sure if he owned a card shop in the 90's or bought a storage unit, but his stuff was priced to sell.

I ended up pulling 40 packs out of this bin.  As you can see from the photo there was a bunch of oddball issues.  I ended up targeting Pacific Senior League and Best minor league packs with some umpire trading cards and Baseball Enquirer packs to round things out.

Purchase #2Wax Boxes  $6

If you like cheap wax, then you might appreciate his three dollar wax boxes.  The selection was pretty limited, but these two boxes caught my eye:

Okay... so I'm sure most of you are shaking your head at The Baseball Enquirer box... but believe it or not, I've always wanted to build this set.  As for the 1990 Pacific Senior Baseball cards... there's one card I'm hoping to find.  If I end up pulling it, I promise to write about it in the future.

Purchase #31992 Marvel Masterpieces Box  $15

Another vendor had a few random non-sports packs and boxes.  This one definitely caught my attention.

If I had to pick my best deal of the road trip, it would come down to either this box or the 70's Topps cards I purchased at the Coin Depot.  Now if you're not familiar with Marvel cards, then this box looks like any ordinary 90's Marvel trading card set.  But this happens to be one of the most popular comic book trading card sets from that era.

A quick check on eBay reveals that people pay anywhere between $80 to $110 for sealed boxes.  I don't normally flip things for a profit, but there's a good chance that I'll throw this box up on eBay one of these days to help cover the cost of admission and parking.

Purchase #41993 Marvel Masterpieces Packs  $7

In addition to the box, I also grabbed these packs.  He was asking 50¢ each, but I offered him $7 for the twenty packs and he accepted.  These are not as popular as the 1992 product, so I'll probably eventually open these up and build the set.

I don't remember seeing anymore vendors with cards after this purchase... and within thirty minutes we were back in the car headed to the Saugus Speedway Flea Market.  Unfortunately... neither of us found anything to purchase there.

The final stop of the road trip was at Harris Ranch.  Can't remember what Mike ordered... but I had a fat juicy ribeye steak with a twice baked potato... which was the first solid food I had eaten all day and quite possibly one of the best purchases of the trip (outside of the first bean and cheese burrito at Del Taco).  Did it make up for the Rose Bowl Swap Meet admission and parking fees?  Nah.  But overall... I'd say that the road trip was a successMemories don't always come cheap.

What about you?

Would you be willing to pay $18 to get into a flea market with no guarantees you'd find anything to buy?

Obviously... I did.  But I don't think I'd do it again.  At least not at the Rose Bowl.

Okay... my students arrive tomorrow and I've gotta bring my "A" game.  That means I need to get some rest.  Hope all of you have a great week.

Happy Tuesday and sayonara!


  1. Yeah, I'm not paying $18 to get into anything that's not a sporting event or concert. You picked up lots of cool stuff, though! I'm really curious to see which '90 Pacific Senior League card you're chasing. After looking through the checklist nothing stands out to me and--oh, just found it on COMC. LOL, good luck pulling it!

  2. Nope, I've never paid to park or for admission to any card show let alone a flea market. Never even seen one that charges. I only hear about them hear on the blogs.

  3. $18 is pretty steep. Hope you recoup. I think the umpire cards are interesting.

  4. That's a big no from me. I appreciate your ability to make the most out of anything, but it's tough for me to drop that much coin when what I'd be hoping to find anyway isn't even worth $18 combined lol.

  5. Depends... If I was on vacation (like you were) and it was sort of a tourist trap - I probably would. In this case I might have waited until 9am. Definitely not for a local show.
    -Anonymous Paul-

  6. I wouldn't pay to go to a flea market. That is just the wrong business model and I'd be reluctant not only as a customer but also as a vendor since it is bad for both - customers get gouged at the gate and not only does that deter a lot of potential paying customers from showing up, it also reduces the amount those who have entered have to spend (How many more packs and boxes could you have spent on that $25 you were forced to cough up for admission)?

    Its just wrong on so many levels to me!

  7. Always enjoy reading your posts and your finds. We seem to have similar interests.

    I dont get the opportunity to frequent flea markets. I feel West Coast flea markets are better than the ones here in NY/NJ. Mostly retail booths selling knock offs and cheaply made items.

  8. I’m not religious, but I’m still a Jew. Never in a million years would I pay $18 to get into a flea market.

    But I sure wouldn’t mind finding some of those Senior League cards.

  9. The Rose Bowl has the hype now so they can get away with that stuff. Plus, some of the other areas might have a ton of interest that is driving those prices. Seems like their business model is working, but I’m not sure I would pay that much to get in early. Sleeping in a bit seems to pay off in this instance. Glad your trip was worth it....at least for the memories.

  10. Glad you found some items worth purchasing at the Rose Bowl (one of my places of employment, so of course I don't have to pay the admission price). I see you found my "eight packs for $1" guy. I wasn't working there the day you went because I was at my other job. But last time I worked at the flea market (back in May I think), that vendor had a ton of miswrapped sealed packs of 1987 Topps baseball, 1989 Topps baseball and 1990 Score baseball. I bought all he had at the '8 for$1' rate, spending a total of around 12 or 14 bucks. I still have yet to open any of these packs. I'll ending trading most of them away.

  11. $18 is more than I spend at a card show, so, that's a no. Nice cards by the way.

  12. $18 would be a hard pill to swallow. I have to agree - once is probably the limit! At least you found some cool stuff to open!

  13. Back in the '80s or '90s we would have figured out a way to sneak in somehow. Eighteen bucks is definitely steep for a flea market.

  14. Heck no, but good luck on pulling a Nettles card.

  15. I have to agree with many others, $18 is steep. I have a hard time paying $10 just to get into the East Coast National (one reason why I haven't gone in a decade) That said, your posts make me want to shop at a flea market or two - you always find interesting stuff and usually at a great price.

  16. Went to the 'bowl once for the Sunday FM about 8 yrs ago...don't recall the admission but I did score some of those weird Topps metal cards from the mid 80s that some guy was closing out...so didn't feel like a waste of time. I think the admission price is so high due to all of the vintage clothing people trying to sell stuff to Hollywood props departments, cuz their budgets are large! Love those BB Enquirer cards, I only have a 9 pocket page filled but it makes me laugh every time I look at them.

  17. I wouldn’t unless it was under the same circumstances... you summed it up perfectly memories aren’t always cheap. Have fun with the new school year, enjoy it while you can!

  18. Lol. Yeah... didn't think anyone would be down to throw down $18 to walk around a flea market. But there were plenty of people walking around when we were there, so there are guys out there.

    dennis - sg488 called it. it's the nettles error card

    johnnys trading spot - dude... i could probably buy a really nice trout autograph with the money i've spent going to card shows and flea markets over the years

    hackenbush - super excited to check out the umpire cards too

    zippy zappy - i hear ya. the amount i spent on this trip is probably 5x more than the value of the cards i brought home. but it was a vacation, so i'll write it off as that

    night owl - i hear ya too.

    anonymous paul - yeah, i'd never spend that much for a local flea market. not sure when i'd go back to southern california, but if i do... there's no guarantee i'd go back to this flea market

    sean - i agree 100%. but there were definitely people walking around spending money. my buddy said the main attraction there is the vintage clothing

    pixart - thanks for supporting the blog. there's a flea market here in san jose (berryessa flea market) that sells mostly new "knockoff" stuff. it's pretty popular, but i never go there. i'm looking for people trying to clean out there house, not new stuff made in china

    brett alan - a year from now, i'll have forgotten the $25 i spent to get in... but i'll still remember the $3 box of senior league cards

    sumomenkoman - yeah... mike said a lot of people go there for the vintage clothing. if i went again, i'd wait for the 9am admission

    bbcardz - can you sneak me in next time? i probably should have bought way more packs, but was saving my money just in case i came across anyone else

    gtt - thanks. $18 is more than what i spend at a card show sometimes

    matt - i'm excited for the rainy season to arrive, so i can sit at my office desk and open packs from this trip

    gregory - i'm too old or fat to climb over that fence ;)

    sg488 - you called it. i'll be stoked if i end up pulling one of those

    chris - good news is i doubt there are many flea markets around the country that charge as much as the rose bowl. most are either free or charge a few bucks.

    mr haverkamp - my buddy mentioned people looking for vintage clothing. were the metal cards super thick and replicas of topps cards from the 60's? if so, i wrote a post on them last year:


    steve at 1975baseballcards.com - yeah... when i think of it as part of vacation expenses, i don't feel nearly as bad. thanks. today was my 2nd day with the kids. they're pretty chill... but it's still the first week of school. check back in in a month or so

  19. If I had a flea market and saw the risk, I would have done it for under $20. $50 is another thing.

    1. come out to the bay area and i'll get you into three decent flea markets for under $10 ;)