Someone had suggested that my wife and I ought to be celebrating our anniversary by taking a cruise or something really romantic. We opted for a short drive into San Antonio's south side and a look at the fairly new Traders Village flea market. Only the best for my bride.
I have to admit, I was pretty much pulled kicking and screaming into this one. The entire concept of what equates to a mall for crappy dollar stores full of plastic crap made in China and sold out of boxes lined up in an open space just really doesn't appeal to me. When I think of a flea market, I'm thinking of Bussey's or the place we found in Devine.
Nothing against the fine folks who bring us the chain of Traders Village, but I would like to see a bunch of junk brought in the back of an old station wagon and laid out on a table with a guy willing to deal as if it was a garage sale, not a bunch of shops that could easily fit in to the crappy section of Ingram Park Mall or any number of strip malls with constant turnover. I mean seriously, a Famsa at a flea market?
There is something to be said about standing there and chatting with a guy trying to sell a few old items from his garage next to some crafts his wife made while he sips on a beer from a Styro-foam cup. Flea markets tend to attract characters as merchants, and even if you don't buy a thing during your visit, you leave having enjoyed the walk and the people you met along the way.
The whole idea of Traders Village is in reality just a different business model for people looking for lower rents on their shop space. If I sold stuff, I would probably give it a shot since the owners have gone out of their way to make an inviting environment for people who don't want the dusty experience of an open air market and appreciate clean restrooms, covered walkways, sports bars and lots of parking.
So, having made my opinion clear, I have to tell you that we actually enjoyed Trader's Village, and though it probably won't be with any regularity, we'll probably go back again from time to time. There was one guy who really made for an irritating experience, and that was the guy with the bullhorn yelling out in Spanish every item he had for sale in his store. And when he wasn't enticing customers with barker-like shouting, he was using the sound effects on the bullhorn to make piercing siren and car alarm sounds. Geeze.
But we did meet some friendly people - in fact one guy we met, a retired school teacher from Devine talked about the new antique shop he is opening between Natalia and Devine on Hiway 132. He was trying to make enough money at Trader's Village to pay the insurance bill for his new shop so he could open the doors.
We found another interesting antiques dealer who had some good stuff in his shop, a mixture of real antiques and commercial crafts. I don't know if this was an actual artist of any fame, but his depiction of Jesus with a floating eye was pretty entertaining.
Parents will appreciate that TV has several ride attractions including a small train ride, carousel, helicopters and a sort of Ferris wheel that goes around horizontally instead of up and down. Basically, you get a really nice view of the the market from overhead and if you look hard, you can see the Clovell Gardens landfill off in the distance.
We did not eat there, but there was plenty of food options including roasted corn and burgers. Maybe next time.
Flea Market purists will understandably scoff at the Traders Village concept and should probably stick to places like Bussey's to the north of San Antonio. But if you just want to get out for a walk and maybe see a few odds and ends, the $2.00 entry fee for parking is not gonna break the bank.
Here is a link to the Flickr page and the photos I took if you want to see it all.