Judging from the signs I have seen, “flohmarkten” (flea markets) are a big deal in this part of southern Germany. Every weekend there seems to be one in a different town and everybody seems to go them.
Maybe that is because there isn’t much else to do around here except walk in the Black Forest. People need the diversion.
I have mixed feelings about flea markets. While it is true that one person’s junk can be another person’s treasure, I usually find nothing but junk. However, given that we had an apartment to set up from scratch, flea markets and second-hand stores have been the order of the day for us since our late-September arrival. So, when I saw the signs for a flohmarkt in our town of Sulzburg, I knew I wanted to attend.
It’s not that we have anything we need, but this market was being held indoors in the Schwarzwaldhalle (Black Forest Hall). The hall is about a two minute walk from our apartment, and I hadn’t been inside yet. It is a community gathering place where they hold concerts and wedding receptions and I am not sure what else. The opportunity to check it out just hadn’t happened in yet, so it seemed like the perfect occasion.
When I got to the hall on that Saturday morning I discovered there was an admission fee. I glanced through the window but didn’t see anything that justified that. It looked like the usual assortment of used clothing, books and housewares.
I understand that hall rental costs money. In my experience it is the vendors who foot the bill, the customers get in for free. I’ve paid to have a booth at craft shows and community fairs. That was the cost of doing business. Having free admission to those events increased the number of people in attendance, which gives you greater opportunity for sales, justifying the booth rental charge. The flohmarkt may have had some items we couldn’t live without, but we’ll never know.
Maybe it is just me, but I have an aversion to paying a cover charge to shop. There are plenty of places that want my business who won’t charge me to come in the door. That is why I have never had a Costco membership. As a frugal shopper, I couldn’t see how I would save more than the annual admission fee. (Unless I was to be purchasing gasoline at Costco. Then it would be worth it, but I wasn’t going to drive across town and line up for gas. My time is worth something.)
So, I still haven’t been in the Schwarzwaldhalle. I’m sure there will be some event in the future that will draw me in. But we didn’t go away from the flohmarkt empty-handed.
At one of the nearby houses, the owner took the opportunity afforded by the hundreds of people visiting town for the flohmarkt to put some of their junk on display. Free admission of course. My wife found something to her liking; only one euro – less than the cost of admission to the hall.
The next flohmarkt will probably be in the spring. I imagine it will be outdoors in the city square with no admission charge (as was the case in November). I’ll check out that one. What else are we going to do for entertainment here?