Every second Sunday of the month, Pasadena’s Rose Bowl stadium in LA (home to the annual Rose Bowl American Football game – the Super Bowl of college football) opens its floodgates to what I can say with absolute scientific accuracy is the most gargantuan flea market I have ever seen.
I’ve been in LA for the past 5 days, and on Sunday my hosts Patrick and Edith were kind enough to take me to check the market out. On the drive over there they gave me some facts: “2500 vendors, 20000 shoppers. Hey look there’s the Ambassador Hotel where Bobby Kennedy was shot… it’s hotttt. No sunscreen was a bad choice.” We got a great park and walked 800 metres or so up to the gates. (This place is big remember.) Entry fee is eight dollars, and I was given a US two dollar note as change. That I’ve never seen before. Patrick informed me it was rare and I should keep it but within minutes I’d squandered it on a bottle of water.
Inside the gates stalls stretched out as far as the eye could see in each and every direction. Furniture, clothes, boots, memorabilia, food, luggage… this place is like 25 big Salvation Army stores all put together, but with really good stuff. I deduced that one could furnish their entire house in countless themes – retro, minimalist, antique, American symbolism, (I’ve never seen so many giant Marlboro wall clocks in my life), retro futurist, I could go on for days. The clothing was a fascinating mix of vintage band tee shirts, cowboy boots, and original Levis Jeans – hugely collectible I discovered, with 80 year old unwearable, ripped to shreds pairs fetching prices upwards of ten thousand dollars. Wow. My personal favourite stalls were the ones with beautiful vintage suitcases, and fantastic original concert, band, film and fashion posters, all of which would look great on the wall of my future house.
So what did I walk away with? Nothing but sunburn I’m afraid, I’m already seriously pushing my luggage limit and I don’t want anymore baggage incidents – I’ve already lost one suitcase on this trip due to an annoying American airline that shall remain nameless. Oh and my tips for surviving the Rose Bowl Flea Market are: sunscreen!! lots of water, preferably ice cold. Don’t forget to bargain with every stall holder – all prices can go down at least five bucks. Don’t get overwhelmed by the sheer enormity of the place – find out where the types of things you’re into are located and just focus on them – otherwise you can get lost in oceans of crap. Have fun!