Julia Gray is an NBC5 summer intern. Some of her postings from the NBC5
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I dig flea markets and antique shows. It must be in my blood because my mother got me hooked at a tender age and today is my shopping partner. In the past, we’ve hit the major flea markets in the area: Sandwich, Kane County and a few other small ones in Wisconsin. On a larger scale, we’ve been to the Rose Bowl Flea Market in Pasadena, the Chelsea market in NYC and le grand-pere of all flea markets-Clignancourt in Paris-where, at one time, one could actually purchase French antiques at bargain prices. The trick was getting the antiques shipped over the pond without losing the wares or worse, getting ripped off by some unscrupulous shipping company.
Since I spent a decent chunk of my adult life in LA, one Sunday a month found me at the Rose Bowl Flea Market. When I moved back here, I went through a flea market withdrawal of sorts. Yes, Sandwich was just as big (if not bigger) than the Rose Bowl, but it didn’t quite have Bowl’s character. I had a friend who used to collect blue jeans (read: Levi’s) and sell them at the Bowl for obscene amounts of money to young Japanese folks who would then return to Tokyo and sell the jeans for a small fortune. Also, Diane Keaton was always in attendance, dressed in a black Armani suit with a high, white-collared shirt-no matter what the temperature-and an over-sized black fedora-esque hat. She also pulled a matching, black granny cart filled with odd trinkets that either ended up in one of her homes or were shipped off to friends like Larry McMurtry. Who knows if that really happened and if Larry was actually a recipient. One can imagine, right?
Back to local flea markets. A few years ago, Chicago started up a once-a-month antique market in the Randolph Street Market District, and we were thrilled. We had Rose Bowl quality without the Hollywood prices or attitude. And, plenty of parking! Outside, one can find everything from vintage dental equipment to rugs from Damascus. Inside the adjacent Plumber’s Hall Complex, many of Chicago’s jewelry and clothing designers sell their unusual designs. In the past, Mom bought earrings and a necklace from Abby Koch and a beautiful leather clutch from a purse designer from the South Side. We both purchased one-of-a-kind t-shirts from Eva May.
This past flea spree netted some Kilim pillows for me and these funky, French marble spheres for mom. I saw my favorite rugs-the Chinese Deco kind –but the price for these gems has risen sharply thanks to Martha Stewart opening up her big yap and saying how much she likes them. She did the same thing to Jadeite and those huge-ass, vintage, pottery mixing bowls. I wish she was still in jail because her likes are costing me a fortune.
In spite of Ms. Stewart’s raves, we were quite happy with our purchases.
Click here for more info on the Chicago Antique Market.