Diary of a Picker: Familiar Faces at the Flea

Over the weekend Tim & I left New Hampshire and began our meandering trip home to the west coast. On our way, we passed a box truck (much like Found’s little beauty) from Olde Good Things, an antique dealer with showrooms strewn about the country. It made me smile and I urged Tim to slow down as we passed it at 70 mph so I could take a blurry picture (in the dark, mind you).

Somehow seeing that truck on the road gave me confidence that we were going in the right direction–headed to someplace great. I mean, if Olde Good Things is going to be there, it must be worth it! I actually didn’t know where they were headed (and whether they were picking or selling) but we were definitely stopping in the nation’s capital. What American road trip would be complete without it?

The next morning when I woke up, I stumbled upon The Capital Hill Flea Market. I don’t want to give you the wrong impression here. Picking takes great determination and a keen eye but I actually thought the market was on Sunday. I was delighted, however, to find it open for two days and was sort of proud that I’ve developed a kind of magnetism to antiques even when I’m not looking for them (a skill I greatly admire in Jeni).

Throughout my trek across America, I’ve been pleased to see such a variety of antiques and vintage treasures. Everywhere I’ve been has had a bit of regional flair tossed in among the always-present collectible staples of Coca Cola memorabilia and rusty horseshoes. I saw more primitive antiques in New England than anywhere else, more architectural salvage in the MidWest, and more industrial pieces in NY. Fascinating!

Overall, though, I felt like the strongest message I heard from America’s antiques was: “there’s nothing new under the sun.” I’ve seen croquet mallets in California, Kansas, and Maine. There were drop-leaf tables in Missouri, Virginia, and Tennessee. I could have purchased a wood-burning stove in Vermont, Ohio, or on Craigslist just about anywhere. While I’m intigued by what I found most frequently in each particular region, I was also relieved that no single section of the country had a corner on the world’s supply of any one treasure. Vintage pieces are accessible, you just have to know where to look.

On Saturday, once I was inside the flea market, I couldn’t help but laugh when the first booth I found was that of Olde Good Things. Despite their high-end collection (Jeni would kill me if she ever heard of me paying their prices for reclaimed ceiling tins), I knew I was in the right place. Seeing the same company in LA, NY, and DC just warmed my heart. I suppose I feel like if I find them everywhere I go, I know I’m in the right place.

My darkened-frantically-taken-on-a-freeway photo of The Olde Good Things truck