Last year we reported on one of Ohio’s largest flea markets in the Saturday issue of the Plain Dealer. Below are some excerpts from that story as well as several pictures that were not used in the original version.
Spring usually is the unofficial opening of the Flea Market season. It is also the time we clean out our attics, basements and garages and we either hold a yard/garage sale or head for the nearest flea market to try to recoup some of the money we once spent on things like eight-track audio recorders and plastic pink Flamingo bird baths.
Hartville, between Canton and Akron, has one of the oldest flea markets in the state which has also has been recently expanded and modernized. It has been around for 65 years. The Hartville Marketplace is a large building that encompasses three acres of indoor shopping and seventeen acres of blacktop parking lot that can accommodate over a thousand vendors
. The building offers such amenities as clean, modern restrooms with changing tables for infants and toddlers. There are elevators to the upper levels, an in-house restaurant as well as numerous food vendors throughout the building. Unlike the Flea Market outside, many of the businesses inside the marketplace have been here for years and cover a broad spectrum of merchandise. Usually there is no haggling over prices here but you also will find many of the merchants that will accept credit cards and have a return or refund policy.
They sell everything from collectibles to candy, from books to antiques. One of my favorites is the Magic Picture Company. Their product is a bit hard to describe. What they do is combine two photos that you provide, say a picture of you as a youngster and another of you currently. The two photos are blended in a special process into a single portrait so that when you walk toward the photo you see the young photo, but as your angle changes it becomes the current picture. It’s like magic.
Magic Picture Company, 330-87…, www.magicpicturecompany.com
But it is outside under the covered walkway and on the paved parking lot that you will find the true flea market. On a good day upwards of 800 vendors may be selling just about anything you can imagine. As I strolled the parking lot I found one merchant who had converted old garden forks into posts for colorful bird houses. Another man was selling antique glassware from a relative’s home. There were electronics, musical instruments, bicycles, trees, shrubs, a little bit of everything. Some of the best values I found were in the section where fresh produce is sold. Fresh strawberries from California were selling that day for a dollar a box. A basket of green peppers was just two dollars. But bear in mind the prices constantly change with the advancing season.
Some tips about shopping at a flea market: Go early, that’s when the best bargains are usually found. Don’t be afraid to haggle about the price. It’s expected at a flea market. Make sure you look over the item carefully before purchasing because, at a flea market, once you buy the merchandise it’s yours. There are no returns. Also remember to bring along some cash. Most vendors do not take credit cards or personal checks. Take some bottled water with you, especially on warm days. Some Flea Markets have few or no drinking fountains and bottled water and soft drinks can be expensive. Wear comfortable shoes because you will do a lot of walking.
If you would like to clean out your closets and garage and become a flea market vendor for a day, this is how it works: You arrive around 6:30 in the morning and find a vendor space in the parking lot. Set up your tables and lay out your merchandise. A representative from the Hartville Marketplace will be around later to collect your rent for the day. It will cost you from 10 dollars up depending on your location and proximity to the buildings. Be sure to bring plenty of change along. There are no banks or places to cash big bills on the premises. For a further explanation of the daily rates check their website.
The Hartville Marketplace is open Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday year-round from 9AM until 5PM.
Hartville Marketplace, 1289 Edison Street, NW, Hartville, Ohio 44632, 330-87…, www.hartvilllefleamarket.com
Be sure to watch for my column in the Plain Dealer next Saturday, April 18th when we take a look at some little known Metro Parks in northern Ohio.