Sunday, August 7, 2016

Flea market mania!

I love flea markets, true flea markets where people sell old stuff that they are tired of.  You just never know what you're going to find.  Most of it is just stuff to look at, nothing to take home, but there is the thrill of the hunt and, when you do spy some treasure that you can't live without it's always fun to haggle with the seller.  In fact, it's almost expected!  Buying in the flea market without haggling over prices is just plain...well, it's boring.

I have been going to HMGS conventions here on the east coast since 1993 or so...for a long time it was Cold Wars, then Historicon, and finally Fall In!  Early on I discovered that, to fund my new projects, the best thing was to take old projects to the con and sell in the flea market.  I'd dig around for an army that hadn't seen action in a few years, or a project that never got completed, or just whatever gaming odds and ends were laying around collecting dust, and pack them off to the con to convert to cash.  Some cash would make it back to the bank, and some would conveniently fund the next army.  It's the Circle of Life in the gaming world!

My new wife, Linda, has heard me talk about working the flea market for a while now, and though I had to skip it last year I was able to make this year's Historicon and do two sessions of the flea market.  Linda thought it would be a good idea to take some photos during it, since she very lovingly offered to assist me with it.  It was so nice having her there, mainly so she could see the emotional ride it is but also to help me.  So, without further ado, the photos!
Probably the most unnerving part of the experience...getting everything loaded onto the hand cart and safely rolled into the flea area.  A couple of years ago, I had a box like the white plastic tray holder in the picture, and it had 1/1200 sailing ships in it.  I was tired that morning, and so as I rolled my cart to the ramp on the sidewalk I lost my focus for just a split second...long enough to tilt the cart and two drawers of sailing ships crashed to the sidewalk.  Took me a year to get them all glued back together again.

You don't get much to work with.  I had two tables, or to be more precise, I had a table and my wife had a table.  I signed her up as a member of HMGS so she could sign up for games; it didn't occur to me until later that she could get a flea market table in her name, but it sure came in handy!  That definitely helped, as I had a lot of stuff to sell.  Objective for this con: enough cash to help defray the costs of remodeling our basement!

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We had a pretty good location; an aisle and an end on the first row into the flea.  Now to put out the pretty stuff...painted 10mm Napoleonics to attract attention and hopefully draw some buyers.  It's always a challenge to decide the layout of stuff so as to get people to stop and look.  I've walked right by good deals because the first thing I saw on the table was a pile of shtuff, or something not very attractive.
I've spent too much time taking stuff out of boxes and arranging it on the table.  Now I try to transport figures in something that can show off the figures while keeping them in the carrier.

I've had this collection of 10mm Napoleonics...literally thousands of figures in Russian, Prussian, and French/French Allies armies.  I've probably had them for 10 years...and they've been on the table exactly twice.  With all the stuff going on, they fell into the category of "excess to the needs."
I always have a great time socializing in the flea market.  I know so many guys just from the conventions; we see each other once, twice, maybe three times a year and exchange some great talk and good memories, then move on.
Steve wound up picking up quite a few of my 10mm Naps.  He is very big into that scale, and has a pretty interesting blog called Sound Officers Call!  Very nice guy and a new addition to my "see you at the next con" friends.
I've always been told I have great stuff and very good prices, and this con was no exception.  I like to get a fair price on stuff, and I always round down in favor of the buyer.  I'd rather someone take figures home to game with them and enjoy than to pack them away in my basement for another year.

Post-script...August 7th, 2016: Since coming home from the convention I have been so swamped working on the basement and my game room that I completely forgot that I had this blog post going.  Although it's been a few weeks, I still wanted to share my thoughts and feelings about the con and the flea market.  While it's always nice to come back with some money in my pocket, and usually some new toys that the flea helped pay for, the social time of the flea market is the key to my continuing to do it.  I know I could use the Internet to sell throughout the year, and I do a little, but the flea market at the convention is so much more fun...and that's why I enjoy this hobby!


  1. Great meeting you at Historicon, Rob! Love your minis. They have found a nice home in my gaming stables -Steve

  2. Wow, that's good looking load of 'out to pasture' minis you have there, Rob. Nothing I love more than a flea market at a con - not that we have many here! I agree, it's all about the deal - get something back for minis that are gathering dust and make the buyers day with a good deal. Win-win. I'm totally impressed that Linda will run the tables with you! You guys are a dynamite team!

  3. Thanks, Alan! I am very lucky indeed; I have been blessed with building a nice collection of miniatures, and now I've been blessed with a partner who actively supports my hobby. A very nice way to spend the second half of my life!