Saturday Market: NYC Flea Markets

This post is a long time coming.  I went on a trip to New York City in late August with hopes of finding postcards.  I have to admit, I did find postcards as I walked through Times Square many times (our hotel was a few blocks away).  The souvenir shops sold postcards for as low as 20 / $1 – yes 5¢ each.  The further from Times Square I walked, the cheaper the postcards were – in Times Square proper they were around 20¢ each.  Two blocks out 10¢, another two blocks 6¢, and slightly further on 5¢.  Every souvenir shop sold an almost identical variety of postcards.

New York City Postcards

The problem was, I longed for something more unique as a souvenir.  So, on Saturday I walked down to the Chelsea Flea Market.  The last time I spent any time in NYC was about 15 years ago.  I remember walking through Chelsea and finding all kinds of side sales happening on the sidewalks and in the alleys.  Not this time.  The only flea marketing to be done was at the actual flea market – a fenced in parking lot between two buildings.  There was a $1 cover charge to get in.  The website claims 135 vendors – either I was there on an off-weekend or that is a gross over-exaggeration.  I think there were close to 40-50.  It was a nice mix of antiques, art, and ethnic wares.  In my opinion it was very expensive (keep in mind I am used to west coast thrift store prices).  Asking price for postcards was $3-5 each.  I did find one vendor, down the alley towards the back (clearly where the vendors with less seniority get shoved).  His primary inventory was coins – he had several nice glass cases with the coins displayed.  Then on a side table he had his “other stuff” dumped.  Not displayed, just dumped.  I saw a handful of postcards lying there.  Without looking to closely, I asked the price.  $40.  I tried to bargain, but he wouldn’t budge claiming he hadn’t had the chance to go through them yet.  As I glanced through the pile, I realized $40 was a reasonable (if not really good) price and I purchased the whole stack.  After I got back to the hotel, I looked closer at the stack and found a full set of Leighton US President postcards as well as about 20 other antique postcards or my collection.

On the way back to the hotel, I swung over to the Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market.  It was even more sparse than the Chelsea Flea Market – only about 20 vendors.  There was only one vendor selling postcards – $3 each.  By then I was so hot and sweaty – it was about 90° – that I decided to just head straight to the hotel.  I have to admit with all of the hullabaloo about NYC flea markets, I was hoping for a lot more.  In the end, I can’t say that I wasn’t satisfied with my purchase!


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