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I Visited an Enormous Swap-O-Rama Flea Market in Indiana: Purchases and Prices

My family and I spent the weekend at our cousin’s house in Crown Point, Indiana. Our cousin is an avid flea market and thrift shopper, so she knows exactly where to go for the best deals and is scarily good at talking down a stiff price. I, on the other hand, have never actually been to a flea market ever in my lifetime- I realize more each day how I’ve lived such a sheltered life. Anyway, I brought some cash, sported some comfortable gym shoes and set out for the day of bargaining with my family at a Swap-O-Rama (a massive flea market chain) location. 

Let me tell you, flea markets, as I know now, have this ratio of junk to treasure. This ratio is about a thousand items of junk per one treasure. There’s heaps of lost gadgets, dirty shoes, forgotten toys and intimate mementos from loved ones. I felt overwhelmed by the sheer volume of things before my eyes and questioned how people could own so many things at one point in their life. Yet, I was amazed by the strange and quirky items I found buried or showcased by different sellers. I saw handcrafted wooden signs, collections of baby dolls, old VHS tapes, countless Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars. 

Despite the clutter and insurmountable amount of things to observe, there were a few items that caught my eye that I want to share. Here are some of the things I purchased, along with their designated prices:

A collection of ceramic coasters with horror film characters; $10

I’m a major fan of horror films, like The Shining or It, so I was beyond thrilled to find these unique pieces that were well-buried inside a dusty glass case. The coasters are in great condition, their images are set well into the ceramic and they’re not cheap stickers or poorly applied. The seller was very generous with his price point, since there were other coasters to the collection that were missing, so instead of charging his original price for $5 each, he offered an overall $10 price, which I was happy to accept.

A creepy pin with the quote “It was a dark and stormy night…”; $1

I recently developed an interest in collecting pins, so when I found this absolutely strange and eerie pin, I knew I had to have it. The pin looked vintage and forgotten amongst the presidential and political pins that surrounded it. The sellers, an elderly couple, were selling all their pins for $1 each, so I was unsure of whether it was a good price for a pin but judging by its weight and material compared to others I saw, I decided it was probably worth more and agreed with the price.

A 0.75 carat sterling silver hand-crafted ring; $13

I was highly impressed with the collection of jewelry a woman was selling in one of the tents. She claimed that all of her rings were specially made and were sterling silver, so there’s no chance of a strange dark ring appearing on my finger. I had my eye on a few rings from her collection, yet this style with the black hearts surrounding the whole finger really intrigued me and I’m very happy with this purchase. The ring’s quality is very nice, the silver actually twinkles in the light and the design is consistent throughout. Her prices were different based on the ring styles but I felt $13 was a fair price for such a beautiful piece that I know I’ll wear every day.

A stuffed Wario and an authentic GameCube controller (purchased by my boyfriend); $20

Although I didn’t make this purchase myself, I witnessed my boyfriend’s absolute shock and enjoyment when he found a stuffed Wario, his favorite Nintendo character. He was even more shocked when the seller offered only a $5 price on the unique find. The stuffed fella is in great condition, with his plushiness in tact and barely any sort of marks of use. Additionally, he found an original GameCube controller, which he can use to adapt to his Nintendo Switch, for a cheap $15. Typically, those controllers in the condition it’s in, go for almost $60 online. He was happily satisfied with those two purchases, in a cute and giddy way.

Harley Quinn doll; $20

This sweet purchase was for my younger sister, who adores the original Harley Quinn from the DC comics. We attempted to bargain for a lower price but the seller, who also sold me the coasters, was insistent that he spent $40 and wanted to get some sort of money back. We settled on a $20 price point, which is a pretty nice deal considering the quality of Harley’s suit and hammer. She originally came with a box, that’s not pictured, so her outfit and paint is still in great shape.

Marvel long-sleeve shirt; $2

Amazingly, this shirt was lying among some tools and clunky items. I immediately took up the seller’s $2 offer since it was in such good shape and I’m a major Marvel lover. Although the back of the shirt had some dirt marks, everything came out in the wash, thankfully. To stumble upon Marvel merch for such a cheap price, I was set on this deal.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Swap-O-Rama, marveling at the heaps of trinkets and clutter, hoping to find a diamond in the rough. I feel a little more prepared for what to expect in terms of prices and how much time to spend looking in various tents. The time flies by when you’re rummaging through bins trying to find a piece you like. Knowing what I know now, I’m already looking forward to my next flea market trip.

Emma Camacho

Loyola '20

Emma Camacho is a senior at Loyola University Chicago. Her hometown is Lockport, Illinois. She's currently majoring in Biology and minoring in Spanish language and literature. Her passions include writing short stories, playing video games, and reading mystery novels. Emma's hope is to become an orthopedic surgeon one day.
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