Tag Archives: Hillsville Flea Market

Shopping with The Vintage Traveler – Hillsville, 2016

Well, it’s happened again.  I wake up to find my Instagram feed filled with photos from vintage friends in New England, showing off the delights of the Brimfield markets.  One of these days I will be there as well, making other people who are not so lucky very jealous.  In the meantime, I had to be content this past week with the big annual market in Hillsville, Virginia.

Hillsville does not pretend to be an antiques market.  It is a true flea, with everything for sale from great vintage items to downright junk.  It started back in the 1970s as a VFW sponsored gun show, and there are still enough guns being carried around to make one feel either very safe, or very uneasy.  I avoid the gun selling area.

Like many flea markets and antique shows, Hillsville has been shrinking.  I first went there at least ten years ago, and since that time one of the fields has closed completely, and I noted the VFW area is also smaller.  But the pleasant side is that it seems like there are just as many sellers who have the types of things I’m looking for.  More vintage photos and fewer tube socks is a big win.

One of my goals when shopping a big market like this one is to try and learn something new, usually in the form of seeing something I’ve never encountered.  There is so much old stuff out there that it always happens that I seen something new to me that I probably should have seen before.  Such was the case with the print above.  Dated 1903, I’m not sure what the Turkish Trophies actually were – a tobacco premium perhaps.  One seller had four of them, all showing young women engaged in sports.  I’d have bought them but the condition and the price did not match.  But I did have to take a photo of the ping pong player.

I see a lot of Daniel Green slippers, as it was a major maker.  But this pair of kid’s slippers embroidered with pups and kitties made me wish for a pair in my size.

On of the things I saw quite a bit of this time was children’s clothing.  One seller had what looked to be an entire wardrobe of a little girl, who would have been about four or five years old, all from the late 1920s or very early 30s.  All were in such wonderful condition that it made me wonder about the fate of the child who had worn them.  These were her slippers.

Another seller had this nice assortment of men’s swimsuits from the 1930s and 1940s.  Note the zipper at the bottom of the red tank.  In the early 30s, bathing suit makers added this zipper in case the wearer got up the nerve to go topless.

Of course there were Scotties.  I really should have brought this one home with me as I have its pink gingham twin.

This lovely illustration of a 1920s golfer decorated the cover of a book of healthy hints from a tonic company.  It made me wonder if there is a whole range of these illustrated booklets.

One seller had five or six tables piled high with a mix of vintage and modern fabrics.  Had I encountered this early in the day, I’d have plowed through the massive piles, but I had been on the hunt for hours, and so I had to pass on the fabrics.  I couldn’t help but think that the seller would have been more successful had she made a better effort to properly display her wares.

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Maybe it is just that I’m easily distracted, but when there is this much stuff, I can’t seem to see the forest for the tress, or actually, it is the other way round!  I didn’t notice until I was looking at these photos that I actually own the basket bag near the center.

It was a button lover’s paradise.

These little booties were made of some sort of plastic coated paper.

I love seeing pillows made from pre-stamped and colored kits.  This is one I’d never seen before, from the early 1930s.

So there you have what I passed up, so I know you are wondered what I actually bought.  Photographs – lots and lots of photos of women in pants.  I also found the best 1940s hat ever, which I’ll be showing off later.  I also got a mid 1960s beach bag that may or may not have been a Coppertone suntan lotion item.   A woman sold me her mother’s Catalina swimsuit from the 1930s.  It’s always a treat to know who owned an item. And best of all, I found a late 1930s playsuit complete with matching skirt.

 

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Hillsville, VA Flea Market, Fall 2015

Last week I went to the crazy place that is the Hillsville Flea Market.  I’ve been going to Hillsville for about ten years, and every now and again I swear off it.  But I keep going back, because among all the crazy is so much vintage wonderfulness.  It’s really not the best for old clothes, but I also find patterns and vintage fabrics.  So, what did I see that was interesting , but that I did not buy?

The drawing above is a puzzle.  Is her looking back on his college days, or is he looking forward to them?  He looks quite young, but is that a cigarette in his hand?

Here’s the dream of every person who sews: shears that cut all the way to the points.  And if you do not sew, you probably wondering why that is such a big deal.

I love old gambling boards, or punch boards, especially when they have a woman skating as the illustration.

Oh, for the simple days of Walt Disney World, when there was just the Magic Kingdom, and it was amazing.

This is my dream luggage.

As I said, Hillsville always has great textile sellers.  This one, a Key West Handprint by Zuzek, is for Jacq.

I just can’t seem to get away from quilts.

This poor old calendar from 1924 was trashed, but oh, so pretty.

I couldn’t tell if this basket backpack was newer, or just in fantastic condition.

I love 1950s red plaid objects, and when I spotted this one I couldn’t imagine what it was.

It’s a traveling cutlery set!  I’m thinking maybe I should have bought that one.

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Hillsville Flea Market, 2014

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.

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