Embracing Change

Meet Our New Guest Blogger: Cathy Safiran and her husband have been gracing the grounds of the Shipshewana Flea Market for 25 years! As vendors, they truly enjoy meeting new people. Cathy’s blog is called “A Vendor’s Two Cents,” but her insights are priceless. Stop by booths 908 and 909 and say hello! Welcome to the blogosphere, Cathy!

One thing is guaranteed in this world: nothing stays the same forever. I fell in love with the town of Shipshewana and the flea market the first time I visited about thirty-five years ago. About ten years later hubby and I became full time vendors. The flea market was a grassy field. Nearly all the booths featured antiques and collectibles of every sort. Vendors arrived in cars, small pickup trucks, or old vans; nearly everyone slept in or under their vehicles. Wares were displayed on card tables and sometimes on the ground. There was one tree growing on the east edge of the flea market in what used to be a cow pasture. Shoppers with flashlights searched for treasure before dawn. Often, vendors stayed open until dusk to accommodate the after work crowd. That was then. Change is inevitable. So, when nostalgia for the old ways sneaks up on us, we persevere.

This year the market is open from 8 A.M. until 5 P.M. every Tuesday and Wednesday from May through October. Some shoppers come early and have breakfast before the flea market opens, but never do they shop predawn, never with flashlights. Closing time is prompt. The lone tree is long gone. Large wooden structures and spacious white circus tents housing merchandise predominate. There is an occasional vendor who, like us, still clings to the old ways and has only a small canopy, most of the booth exposed to the weather.

Three miles of white gravel walkways have replaced the grass. Old collectibles are rare and antiques rarer; the ratio of old versus new is now reversed. Wednesday’s auction is the happening place for antiquing now. Change has definitely come to the market, yet Shipshewana could still be a poster for the essence of America. It truly is America in the best sense of the idea, the classic melting pot of people and goods. Our surrounding neighbors at the market are from China, India, Indiana, Germany, Michigan, and Canada. They sell hats and dollar items, clothing, used books and knick-knacks, shopping carts and chairs, artificial flowers, sunglasses, and jewelry. We are in the middle of them selling folk art, collectibles and an occasional antique piece, and license plate art that we create.

Despite the unpredictibility of the weather and the trials it can induce, there is an excitement, a palpable freedom working and shopping outdoors. People and weather. Weather and people. Two unpredictable ingredients, combined with the intensity of the hunt for objects to buy and sell, equals a totally unique experience. Change is inevitable, and each week we ponder what the size and mood of the crowd will be, whether the weather will be kind.

By the way, hubby and I moved here eleven years ago. We’re “locals” now. You can still find us set up every week at Booths 908 and 909 on the north side of the market. When you visit Shipshewana, Indiana, The Crossroads of America, visit the Trading Place Flea Market, stop by and say,”Hi.”

And, as one of our most popular signs instructs, “Carpe Diem!” Seize the day!

Cathy Safiran