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A collection of photography and exploration focusing on Upstate South Carolina and beyond.
Yep, I made another mid-week trek over to the Pickens Flea Market. It was a beautiful day, and I headed over there just because I could. I was curious as to how the place changes on a non-summer, non-holiday Wednesday.
According to their Facebook page, the flea market is open from 4:00 am until 2:00 pm every Wednesday. I can’t imagine being here before dawn, but I guess some of the vendors need that time to get set up. I have gotten here as early as 7:30, and the vendors were still setting up. I think the “sweet spot” as far as time is from 8:00 until 11:00. By 11:00 many of the vendors are already packing up for home.
Normally I park at one end and head west. Usually I run out of steam by the time I get to the other side, so this time I parked closer to the other end. It seemed much sparser at this end on this particular Wednesday. Much of the covered area wasn’t occupied, but there were still quite a few open-air vendors. Everything seemed more spread out, with little pockets of vendors in remote corners.
I think this is the newer section. A chain link fence runs down the middle of the market, dividing it in half. It’s possible that the two halves are managed separately, but I’m not sure about that. One must pass through a rather narrow, congested gate to get from one half to the other. That may just give them the ability to open only a part of the market if necessary. (Pure speculation here.)
I started with the open-air tables. The first thing that caught my eye was a table of iPhone covers and accessories. They had a selection of the iPhone 5 charger cables for $5, and some leather(ish) covers for the same price. I bought one of each. At the next table or two over I found a lock that I could use on the new kayak storage I was building – another $5. Within 10 minutes I had spent $15.
I quickly realized this could get dangerous, and I had to slow down. While prices are extremely low, they tempt you to buy things that you don’t need. Take knives, for example. Stephen mentioned this on our last trip. While a $10 pocket knife at the flea market looks like a great deal, how many pocket knives do you really need?
It was obvious that many treat the flea market as they would Walmart. They come to get vegetables and other everyday items at much lower prices than in typical retail. Others, like myself, come for the curiosity. I guess if you’re a collector, or have something specific in mind, you can tune out all the other items. With that in mind, after my initial purchase I decided to focus on two things – antique hymnals, and photography.
As I wander along I caught snippets of wisdom being doled out by the vendors. These bits of advice ranged from suggestions about their products, to observations of the weather, to political views, to just about everything else. All of it was delivered in a folksy, friendly manner that was quite compelling. I tried to capture some of the audio, but was not successful. If I manage to pull some of it together, I’ll post it.
The Musician’s Corner was in full swing, as usual. I didn’t linger as long this time. They seemed to be a bit more off-key than usual. Plus, they had competition. On the west end of the market a guy and pulled up an RV, had his wares out on a table, but had also pulled out a guitar and amp and was singing a few songs to draw in customers. On the east end, another musician was set up, trying to get tips and sell his CDs of religious music.
Speaking of religion, there was quite a bit of it on display. There were the typical religious items for sale on the tables – statuary, angels, Last Supper paintings, etc. – but there were tables dedicated to various religious affiliations. One Independent Baptist Church had a table set up with a young soul-winning team. I watched them in action for a bit. The young women would only hand out religious tracts to other women, but the young man would approach both sexes. I guess they were sticking to 1 Timothy, chapter 2.
Jehovah’s Witnesses also had a table set up, offering a free Bible course…
…and there were other, less mainstream religions. Some of these were not as overt, but offered crystal healing and other non-traditional views. Some combined both Christianity and non-traditional healing arts.
I’ve mentioned it before – Pickens Flea Market has a totally different vibe than the Anderson Jockey Lot. The vendors seem more like down-home folks here, whereas at both Anderson and the White Horse Road flea market they treat everyone with suspicion. At those places I didn’t feel comfortable walking around with a large camera. Here, I saw several people walking around with large DSLRs. I don’t blame them – any flea market is a riot of colors, textures, and personalities. It’s a great place for street photography.
Obviously, others think so, too. I spotted Polly Gaillard, photographer extraordinaire, out with a couple of cameras around her neck. I had taken a portraiture course with Polly a few of years ago. In addition to courses at Anderson University and other schools, she has taught a course on photographing strangers. This would be the perfect setting. There were several other young ladies close behind her, also with cameras. It was obvious that they were part of a class.
Somehow I managed to visit just about every inch of the flea market, and I was dead tired. I didn’t find any antique hymnals, and escaped with only the purchased I’d made at the first of the trip. However, I wasn’t done with my morning’s explorations. I crossed Twelve Mile River and drove behind the market until I reached Wolf Creek School Road. I paused to take a few photos of the old school, longing to jump the chain-link fence and somehow get inside.
I crossed back through Pickens and made one more stop at Glassy Mountain. I hiked down to the rock itself and did a couple of panoramas, one with my iPhone…
…and one stitched together from photos taken with the D7000…
The D7000 has much, much higher resolution, but on a computer screen I can’t tell much difference between the two. I do want to come back up here and try some time-lapse, perhaps a sunrise-sunset sequence, since there are great views in both directions.
All-in-all, and great morning of photograph, and I was even able to get back to the house by lunchtime and do some chores. Here’s a slideshow of the photos from that outing.