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Hunting for a hidden gem

JERRY McBRIDE/Durango Herald

Joan Curtis, of Durango, was one of several vendors who offered items Sunday at the Durango Flea Market in the parking lot of the La Plata County Fairgrounds. “I’ve been collecting dolls for 40 years, so I thought I’d try to sell a few. My daughter said if I sold every doll I have for a dollar, I’d be rich,” Curtis said, laughing.

By Stephanie Cook Herald staff writer

Vendors and bargain hunters came out of hibernation Sunday for the opening day of the Durango flea market.

The market, at the La Plata County Fairgrounds, was buzzing, with everything from roller blades to turquoise jewelry, potted plants and a robot holding a Barbie doll on display.

“This is big, especially for first market,” said Jason Kimmel who has been a vendor at the Durango flea market for five summers with his wife, Keena Kimmel.

The market seems to be gaining momentum as it continues to become more established over the years, Keena Kimmel said.

As full-time vendors, the Kimmels have noticed an increase in traffic.

“We’ve seen a shift in the past year with a lot more people getting into flea markets and buying used stuff,” Keena Kimmel said.

Shirley Pelot, a vendor selling watercolors, said she noticed there were more vendors this year, but not necessarily more people buying things.

Renee Baird agreed, “There’s a lot of lookers but not a lot of buyers.”

Another first-timer, Lavoya Cooper, said she decided to offer items this season because she had “a bunch of junk to get rid of.”

Cooper had good luck selling things throughout the morning, especially with her DVD collection, she said.

“I really think people are hitting the flea markets and thrift stores more than stores like Walmart on the off chance that they will find what they need,” she said.

More people do seem to be bargain shopping, but many people also seem to be questioning the amount of goods they own and trying to thin out, said John Dunn, who founded the Durango flea market about 10 years ago.

“I think it’s a combination of wanting to thin out and also wanting to bargain shop, and that’s what the flea market is all about, bargain shopping,” Dunn said.

Sunday saw some vendors who were able to thin out more than others.

“We had some people who did really well, and they are normal vendors. And I had some new people who said they did OK – that they were just glad to get rid of stuff. And we had people who said it was a little bit slow,” he said.

For at least a few customers at the flea market, buying used goods was a matter of principle as well as price.

“I definitely have that mentality that I would rather have something that’s not brand new and that someone has owned before,” said Cassandra Stover.

Stover’s shopping companion, Chris Squires, was excited to find handmade jewelry, which he will use as a Mother’s Day gift, he said.

Stover wasn’t searching for anything in particular, but generally looks for “quirky things like handmade books.”

Serendipity plays a role.

“You never know what you’re going to find, and you can find just about anything throughout the year,” Dunn said.

For Janie Morse, hunting for hidden treasure is part of the fun.

Morse, who frequents local consignment shops and attended the flea market every Sunday last year, enjoys searching through the piles of used items and finding hidden gems.

“Sometimes people don’t know what they have,” she said.


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