Beautiful cool morning, and Paul W, Brian G, and I decided to squander it with a trip to the Anderson Jockey Lot. Paul and I have made frequent forays into the world of flea markets. While growing up, he and his father would scour the yard sales, then resell their goods at various flea markets. So, Paul brings lots of experience to this endeavor. Brian is fairly new to the game. I’m along as an archivist, equipped with cameras and various sound recording devices to capture a distilled version of Southern culture. Turned out to be a successful trip on all levels.
When we arrived parking was tricky. It looked like there were going to be lots of people there. While there were lots of customers, the outside tables seemed fairly sparse. There were not as many vendors as usual.
One of the first things Paul noticed was that there didn’t seem to be many prices listed on items. I guess you would have to interact with the vendor and haggle a bit.
We headed under one of the covered areas, and Brian was immediately drawn in by the smell of popcorn. He purchased a bag of kettle corn – basically a glaze-coated popcorn similar to Cracker Jack – and we shared while wandering through the stalls. It was much lighter, and tastier than Cracker Jack.
There were lots of cut-rate beauty supplies. Some of these looked like common US products, but had Asian names written with English alphabet. Three vendors were selling USpray Cologne, for “A man ‘or’ a woman”, quotations included in all signs. We decided against a sample.
I noticed one vendor with a bag of meal worms prominently displayed. Curious, I asked, and was told that it was food for something called a sugar glider. I’d never heard of such a thing. Apparently it’s a small flying marsupial from Australia that is popular (and buy “popular” I’m assuming that means among Jockey Lot denizens) in the United States. It’s small and supposed loves nothing more than to curl up in a pocket. This vendor had customized carrying bags for your little beast, as well as other accessories. She did not, however, have any actual sugar gliders with her.
Around one corner and we were in the middle of “Pet Street.” You can get just about any type of animal you want. There were a few ducks and chicks, but the market seemed geared toward dogs of various breeds. One vendor advertised that they had a sugar glider, and another sold turtles for “educational purposes only.”
Right in the middle of Pet Street is a vendor with an odd assortment – old magazines, comic books, action figures and toys, LPs, and hubcaps. Not only is the inventory eclectic, but the building itself is an odd mishmash of semi-dry sheds stitched together as more room was needed. On the rear of the building the back of an old school bus had been hacked off and the rest of the bus stitched to the building, then painted the same share of gray.
We wandered through more of the outdoor tables for awhile. There were the standard mix of old tools, beauty supplies, and yard sale items. One thing we did NOT see this time were all of the guns. Last time we came through Brian was impress that you could assemble your own arsenal just by stopping by a few tables. This time there was nothing like that. I don’t know if this goes in waves, or if there had been a crackdown on illegal sales. We spotted a couple of tables selling ammo, but came to only one table that had a few rifles and shotguns.
Speaking of crack downs, the Jockey Lot vendors tend to be a nervous group. There is always the possibility of stolen or counterfeit items. I’ve mentioned before that I don’t dare bring my big camera because these folks get nervous around them.
Paul and Brian discovered just how nervous this lot could be. They were carrying on a conversation about their labs at Furman, and somehow the word “inspection” was used. The vendor at the table where they were standing overheard and drew back visibly, and started talking defensively about her wares. From that point on Brian tried to work the word “inspection” into conversations whenever we passed a table with dubious goods.
At this point we made our way inside. Here we encountered a bastion of racism masked as southern heritage…
…collections of art that mix the pure with the puerile…
…and ceramic nightmares of every size and shape.
Soon we came to a vendor offering NASCAR automobiles and NFL helmets encased in candles. He went into great detail about how everything was licensed through the correct sports agencies, and that every detail was correct on the cars and the helmets. Unfortunately, it meant that he had to order 4000 units of the product up front for each conference or sport license, but he found that he was moving product quickly.
Instead of wax, the candles were filled with a gel. Once the candles burned down, the gel could be refilled.
As fascinating as this process might be, I was even more baffled that this guy managed to sell 4000 units of these things.
We came around a corner and found one of Paul’s favorite spots. Here there was box after box of cheap household goods, tools, and all many of goods imported from some Asian source.
Both Paul and Brian stocked up on several items, but I managed to escape, but not for long. A bookseller had several antique song books from the late 1800’s that I picked up for a good price.
In another section of the interior shops we came across an unexpected treasure. There was a man, apparently in his late 70s or 80s, who had a modest setup. He had some dented cans of soda and a small shaved ice machine. Oddly enough, he had several copies of the local Woodruff newspaper – all the same issue from July, 2010. It seems the front page article was about the history of the textile baseball league, and his photo was on the front with his team from those early days.
The vendor, a Mr. Lefty Wooten, also had a book written about him, which he displayed proudly. He regaled us with tales of his days as a player and a manager for the textile league, including a trip to New York to watch the World Series. It became obvious that his meager wares were just a way to put him in a position to interact with others about his past. He was more than happy to pose for a photo with his book.
Mr. Wooten really wanted to talk more, but we had lots more to see. Here’s an audio clip of our interview with him.
Continuing down this part of the building we encountered the most amazing jumble electronics. Stereos, computers, coffee makers, and just about anything else with an electrical plug were stacked in piles at least head-high. There was also an impressive collection of karaoke machines.
This trip we had spent more time inside. However, Paul always says that the best stuff is outside on the open tables. That’s where we headed.
One one table there was an odd collection of auto parts, including a red bumper for a 1998 Toyota Camry. I wondered what alignment of planets had to take place in order for someone who needed that specific bumper. Later we came across another table that had other 1998 Toyota Camry parts. At this point we wondered if a single Camry had met its demise nearby, and the vendors had descended upon it like locusts. A challenge! Could we find the rest of the car throughout the Jockey Lot, reassemble it, then drive it home? Could happen.
This got me thinking about what you could find at the Jockey Lot, and why vendors pick certain things to sell. I understand the pickers and yard sale scavengers, but the other choices often baffle me. Does someone stumble across a lot of solar-powered sunflowers and think they can make a ton of money reselling them?
We made one last stop for vegetables, then headed on our way. It had been a great trip. As weird as this place is, I think we’ll be back soon.