Tackling these mammoth events, however, is not for the faint of heart. For starters, the size and scope of each market can be overwhelming—no, are overwhelming. They cover acres and acres and miles and miles. (To give you an idea of their scope, there is one that stretches from Maryland to Missouri and another from Michigan to Alabama.) The Best and Biggest Flea Markets in America is an essential guide for shoppers who want to get the most out of each venue. All the practical details are covered: how far ahead of time to make reservations, how to avoid wasting precious time in traffic jams, how to navigate the miles of aisles, how to determine the best paths through the markets, how much territory can be covered in a day, how to find out where the must-see dealers set up their tables, what to take to be comfortable, and more. Other essential information includes smart negotiating, shipping options, and—because the thrill of the chase can be utterly exhausting—great local places to eat and where to find a soft bed at the end of the day.
One of the many charms of the book is its focus on regional style. Each of the markets profiled has an unmistakable sense of place, evident in the merchandise that fills the booths. Canton, Texas started 150 years ago as a trading market for cattle and livestock; this is where you’ll find vintage cowboy boots, railroad and ranch memorabilia, and primitives. At the Rose Bowl Flea Market, the proximity to Hollywood casts a sparkle over everything; don’t be surprised to find yourself browsing elbow to elbow with movie stars at tables filled with memorabilia from the silver screen and glamorous costume jewelry. At Shipshewana, in the heartland of the Indiana Amish, you’ll find more than the usual number of pie safes, kitchen implements, and quilts. Keech highlights these differences with bits of cultural and decorative history and lots and lots of photographs that will make even armchair travelers feel like part of the action.