Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Times at Q Mart

After the alpaca portion of our early afternoon, we piled into the car (well, really we just got into the car in an orderly fashion) and made our way to the Quakertown Farmer's and Flea Market, also known as Q Mart.This was my second visit to Q Mart, the first being only mentioned but not documented due to the overall weirdness of the whole place. During my first visit I only explored the cavernous and slightly terrifying warren of an indoor market, which features all sorts of things, a few of which we'll get to in just a moment. This time, however, we went to the back parking lot in order to peruse the outdoor flea market and satiate Fat T.'s desire for country yard sales. There we saw all sorts of things and people. While I like one good and big junk store full of the detritus of our consumer society, this warehouse clearance effect really gets me down. It was sprawling, the tables went on and on, the quality of their goods and the happiness of the vendors' faces decreasing the farther and farther you got from  yet another building, which seemed to act as a hub for the flea market. I'm a privileged person compared to many of the shoppers and vendors who were doing their thing that day. While I was looking for the pleasure of perhaps an unexpected treasure, I have a feeling that some of these folks weren't as whimsical. And that goes for the vendors as well as the patrons. I'm sure that some were doing it for fun, but others - the old hunched over woman at one of the farthest possible tables selling used, not even in the box any more, Barbies; the man with what amounted to a pile of canned vegetables with labels that would suggest that ingesting the contents of said cans would certainly lead to botulism - seem to be doing this to supplement what would appear to be already meager incomes. Maybe I looked at it the wrong way. Maybe I'm out of touch. For some families this was clearly a fun (and free at least as far as admission) day out: they happily perused the aisles and aisles and aisles of rayon summer dresses that would fall apart after two wearings,1000-piece puzzles, c-clamps,  trombones, old Sega Genesis systems, long-dead people's vacation photos from the 1930s. While there were certainly babies crying, for the most part kids seemed excited, their parents not too overwhelmed. And once they'd exhausted the tables, they could go inside and eat an empanada or pierogie or any of the many other edible treats to be found in the 'market' building. I guess what I'm saying is, this is an interesting place where all sorts of things and people wash up. But for some it seems like the end of the line and that can be depressing. I won't say that I didn't have a little fun. I wasn't totally doom and gloom at the time, it was just bubbling a little. While we were still outside, we came across this box...the inside of which was just awesome.
The thing is, I can barely keep my life together as it is. There are moments when I feel like I'm slowly inching my way towards hoarder-ism. I have articles of clothing I haven't worn in ten years. I have a suitcase full of things my father brought up last summer, which sits in my room unopened. I don't need any more stuff for stuff's sake. So going to such a mecca of stuff is difficult. Because some of it? Some of it seems like such a good idea. I saw a framed print of Chesapeake Bay crabs that was actually pretty neat. And I'm a sucker for old photographs with brief descriptions written out in hand on the back. I can say with happiness that I went through this entire part of the day without purchasing a thing.
At one stand we saw a framed illustration. At first it seemed pastoral; an old school well with its bucket up drawn in pencil. But with just a little more attention it became clear that the bucket was not any such thing. Instead the image was of a well, with a man hanging from a rope where the bucket should have been. It was bleak and I wanted to buy it, but I didn't. And then there was this Drag Queen doll.

Eventually we got to the more food-oriented building. Though it's not limited only to food. There are also alligators named Wally who do not like flash photography, shops selling those giant swords and knives that seem to appeal to a certain kind of Larper/pony tailed guy who I thought ceased existing in 1993, produce markets (but I don't really trust the provenance of their goods), butcher's counters, sit-down and stand-up food stalls, and more and more. I'd say that the length of the building is at least half a mile. Maybe not? Maybe more? Maybe less? I don't know. It's really, really big. You feel like it never ends.
Also, a tortoise.
I guess that's all I have to say about Q Mart at the moment.


Huckleberry said...

I really want to comment on this because it touches a sentiment that I sometimes feel as well and that I find hard to pinpoint. But that's the crux -- I can't quite express it. I still wish, though, that you'd write your/a novel. (Or more precisely, that I'd get to read it.) Weren't you thinking about something involving old photographs, possibly with brief descriptions on the back -- or am I misremembering that?

cc said...

Ah Huckleberry, what a faithful and good-memoried reader you are! I have flirted with photographs as jumping off points for essays for years. While I may have started a few, none ever quite get past the first draft.

Huckleberry said...

Well, all I can say: I'd be a faithful reader of those essays as well...