If you are in the mood to sift through some old bric-a-brac, second-hand clothes, hand-made jewellery but can’t face the daunting task of circling the whole of Pasadena Rose Bowl (or, simply, it’s the wrong Sunday for that), a fun, much smaller alternative is the Melrose Trading Post that takes place in the parking lot of Fairfax High School every Sunday, from 9 to 5.
A bit of a neighbourhood institution that started in the late ’90’s, I never made it there, always too ensconced in my New York Times on Sundays, walks with the dogs and other low energy activities (read: lazy couch potato). But when the sun is relentlessly shining and can only energize and shame you into not sitting around, even I find it in myself to drive to the other side of town for a bit of exploring.
The $2 entrance fee goes to benefit the high school, whose partnership with the Greenway Arts Alliance is responsible for this flea market. My exploration started in earnest with lunch, immediately making a run for the food court, right outside the school’s front doors. Despite BBQ smoke wafting and calling me in, my mother and I opted for a sinful Nutella and fruit crepe, prepared right in front of our eyes. There are plenty of small tables in the courtyard and, to make matters even more pleasant, a jazz trio of elderly men softly playing in the background.
So fortified, we tackled the stalls. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular but had I needed empty frames or mirrors, I would have come up a winner. The clothing skews much younger and hipper than I normally wear (polyester 60’s dresses and denim hot pants were aplenty, as well as tiny fur coats) but some of the jewellery definitely caught my eye. A stand of old photographs was busy although I find the thought of using other people’s family photographs on my walls a bit disconcerting. I suppose it’s a way of inventing one’s ancestry, here in a city where re-inventing oneself is an actual requirement.
Provencal furniture and 50’s modern seem to be still very much in vogue as well as the usual pottery, crystal and glass crap that is customary at these swap meets – I always think I will find a treasure but have come empty-handed so far. If you are into gloves, a stall full of them will intrigue you.
And now allow me for my Larry David moment – I can see where the etymology of swap-meet comes from, with barter being an acceptable form of payment in days of old but why do people keep on calling these markets swap-meets? Nothing is being swapped and you are not going to meet anyone. Only hard cash being handed over. Can’t we stick to flea markets (the clothes still look as if flea infested) or even the charming English car boot sale?