Hillsville, Virginia is a sleepy little mountain town just north of the Blue Ridge Parkway and the North Carolina state line. Way back in the 1970s the local VFW decided to do a gun show on Labor Day as a fund raiser. The event grew and grew until it became one of the biggest flea markets in the Southeast.
The last time I went was two years ago, and I vowed that was the last time for me. It was too big and too filled with crafts and junk. The presence of guns everywhere was a bit disconcerting.
But for some reason I thought I’d give it another try. Quite unbelievably, it was a nice experience. I think that the biggest difference was that the show has gotten smaller. But not just that; the antique and vintage sellers have stayed while the crafty people were not as prevalent. It was no longer an overwhelming day where even a fast shopper like me could not cover it all.
I’ve written several times about how many flea markets and antique shows have gotten smaller, so this was not a surprise. I had noticed a gradual contraction of this venue since 2009. I’ve also noticed this at the Metrolina, which is a flea market held in Charlotte. And the Boston Globe recently ran an article about how the great Brimfield is on the decline. (Thanks to Carrie for the link.)
One of the major problems at places like Brimfield and Metrolina is the influx of stuff that looks old, but that is not. I think Harry L. Rinker nailed it in the Globe article when he said, “It’s not a collectors’ market anymore, it’s a decorators’ market.” Many people who are decorating a house care only about the look, not the pedigree, of an item.
Interestingly, I did not see a whole lot of that type of thing at Hillsville. Maybe the difference is that Hillsville is a more rural area, with the shoppers coming from all over the Southeast, where as Metrolina and Brimfield serve a more urban, and thus trendy, clientele.
So I saw some really nice things, and even bought a few of them. Today, I’ll give a brief tour of what did not make the cut.
My photo is poor, but this is the best vintage Nativity I’ve ever seen. The condition was excellent, the lithography top-notch, the price tag appropriately high.
Surely, I thought, there is a hat in this pile for me. Unfortunately there was not.
This dealer had the scarf motherload, and at $1 each she was selling them by the bag full. There were hundreds of them, and I bet she made her booth rent on these alone.
This is the funniest sun hat ever. The flowers did not look original to the hat, so I passed on it.
I loved this scissors and pin cushion necklace so much. Is there a name for these?
This was a nice rack of vintage clothes, but notice the 1920s dress in front. It has been shortened, and stitched with a machine at the hem. Still, at least it was not cut and could be restored to original length. That longer piece behind the dress is actually part of it, and is like an apron.
I really do wish I had gotten a better photo of this one. It is a 1920s costume made of crepe paper petals attached to a muslin background. It was adorable.
I wonder if one can get satellite radio on that thing.
I almost bought this for me to wear. Cashmere, and simply gorgeous.
I saw lots of wonderful old feedsacks.
Old dog prints always get my attention.
Aren’t these a trip? (Get it, a trip!)
I’ll be slowly but surely sharing all the great things that I did buy.