Shopping the flea market with a toddler
I head to the flea market at least 2-3 times a month. In L.A. it rotates around based on the week (1st Sunday is PCC, 2nd is Rose Bowl, 3rd Long Beach and 4th Santa Monica). Charlie usually comes with me – it’s kinda our thing. He came with me all the time when he was a baby and it has only been since he could walk that it’s been more, ahem, challenging.
Click through to see the whole flea market trip …
As you can imagine he either wants to destroy things, run away, or wants carbs in exchange for good behavior. I would leave him home but the problem is that Saturday and Sunday are my two full days with him – the days where I don’t even have to check my email, and so even if it’s a massive pain to bring him, I’d rather suffer through it then not be with him. In case you are wondering what true love is, I think I just described it. Hey Nicholas Sparks, you’re welcome.
Brian has gone with me maybe once in 7 years. ONCE. He’s convinced that non-design loving guys don’t go to the flea market and if they do they are looking for ‘like old hammers or something’. He is totally wrong, but as most of you know, there is truly nothing worse in the world, NOTHING, than shopping with someone who doesn’t like shopping, so I rarely even ask him to go.
But since Sundays are ‘family day’ it would be my fantasy for us all to go and enjoy it together.
So last Sunday he was like, ‘Do you think that the rose bowl has vintage t-shirts?’ and I tried to play it cool, not acting to desperate or excited as I offhandedly said, ‘yeah, I think they have tons of good ones … for pretty cheap, I hear’. He needs new shirts, so he agreed to go.
He dressed Charlie in his new shoes that matched his, obviously. I mean, so unbearably cute.
It was a day full of laughter and squeals, bargains and deals, and at the end he said ‘Oh man, I sure do love the flea market. Let’s go every Sunday!’.
Except the opposite of that.
After about 5 minutes he asks ‘So … what .. uh … what’s the plan?’ And I was like, What do you mean what is the plan?!!!! Now we walk and shop and laugh and touch things we don’t plan on buying and look at everything that catches our eye and ask pricing on things that we might not even be interested in and debate laboriously over things that we’ll surely never end up purchasing and go up and down every row and aisle and say hi to people we kinda know and buy things we don’t need, pile them in Charlie’s stroller, schlep them to the car in 87 degree heat, eat really bad $12 breakfast burritos and laugh and smile the whole time because it is the greatest place on earth!!!!!!!
So, I quickly cut my losses and told him where all the t-shirts were, agreed to a meeting place and made sure he had cash. Then Charlie, Ginny and I (and Jessica – she took the fun photos) cruised around on our own and had a pretty good time. Family day was a bust, but I was going to save this Flea Market opportunity.
If I hadn’t stayed, I wouldn’t have purchased that original painting of Lincoln for $40 (and yes, I will be selling for much more, it’s awesome). Can you imagine my life/house without that painting?
This little kid made it fairly slow-moving so after a bit Ginny ditched me, too. I get it. I’m not popular when I’m with a toddler.
I had to constantly ply him with snacks in his stroller to get him to stay in there, but after a while even a peanut butter and jelly sandwich wouldn’t keep him locked up (do all kids love bread/carbs so much????). So we let him cruise around and of course he found anything pint-sized.
He really wanted to keep that disgusting teddy bear, which naturally tempted me. But some things are just so much cuter at the flea market then when you get them home and they look like vintage-germ-ridden pieces of garbage. I was tempted by the table and chair set but it was $60 and was fairly rickety. Besides, red might have been jarring in my family room. Sixty bucks was too much, by the way. We just bought this set which is twice as much, but way cuter and more stable.
But speaking of kids furniture … that pint-sized rocking chair is getting totally reimagined with some new fabric. The longer I am a mom, the more I see a need for chic kid or kid-friendly furniture that isn’t like $300 for a side table. Stay tuned, I’m coming up with a plan.
I almost bought that military table above. The pros – it’s wood and brass, folds up and is terribly wonderful. The cons: it was $200, I don’t need it and it’s a height that is super awkward – too short to sit at, too tall for a coffee or side table and too deep for console or entry table. It belongs in a store where you display cool merch, but I just couldn’t rationalize it this time.
I always check out the clothes to make sure there isn’t a crazy-lady dress that I can’t pass up. This is when/where I buy vintage silk kimonos or floral muu muus with the fantasy that I’ll just flow around my house, bra-less, looking effortlessly sexy and cool. Maybe I’ll wear beautiful vintage pin-up style lingerie or a one-piece retro bathing suit underneath it. Maybe my hair is all tousled and sexy in the good way. Maybe an important magazine editor will stop by unexpectedly and catch me looking so chic and I’ll go down in history as someone who can just pull off anything.
But I don’t look like that. Because I’m not a 22-year-old rich model. The kimono’s are always sloppily half-open revealing my cotton jersey long tee-shirt and flannel pajama pants. My hair is in a not-so-top knot. I probably have smeared banana somewhere. And then I just look like a mom who is on the verge of giving up. Although those kimonos did look pretty cute in this shoot, I’ll give myself credit for that – but when you are 9 months pregnant (I had Charlie that night) you can kinda get away with anything.
Anyway, so I’m very careful with what ‘crazy lady’ vintage stuff I buy these days because it often just ends up in the costume box. I have a very expensive ‘crazy lady’ costume box.
Meanwhile little Charles saw this firetruck and he fell in love.
I liked it too, certainly, but it was $150 and we didn’t really have a place for it.
He wanted it really bad. But he also wants a shiny wrapper on the ground or any dollar store plastic ball so bad. If we had the right yard for it, I might have been more convinced, but it was an expensive and annoying hoard (getting it to the car wouldn’t have been too easy).
Besides, then we ran into the 50-year-old life-like pony. Like most children Charlie loves a pony and you could turn this one on and its head and tail would move, as it neighed, etc. It was $100 and it was also pretty darn mangy.
But he cared deeply for this pony – as you can obviously see expressed in this photo below.
For those of you who are tempted to lecture me on my fair-skinned child’s skin, don’t worry that kid was lathered up with SPF. Did we get the horse? Nope. Charlie was practically modeling it when this man came up to the vendor and handed him a $100 bill. I immediately lectured him on flea market etiquette and he apologized, but truthfully I wanted a reason to not buy it anyway (again, it was huge, expensive and annoying to get to my car).
More snacks and then a strangely early nap. That stroller does lean down to be fully horizontal so I did that and he slept for over an hour. That wasn’t the plan, we were on our way out, but once he was asleep I was like well since he’s sleeping ….
I buy a lot of art from this guy, but not this time. I have a real inventory of art right now. Too much, possibly. So I’m taking a break … wait, I bought that Lincoln painting but it was so cheap …
And these were the other two things I was tempted by – these strange MCM lamps ($250) and that beautiful simple dresser:
Neither of which I need and neither of which were steals, and BOTH of which would have been annoying to schlep to the car. My rule is if it’s something I need and it’s a splurge, BUT it’s perfect then I go for it, and if it’s not something I need but it’s something that is easy to use and is a steal I go for it, but if it’s kinda expensive, pretty good and normal priced, then I try to skip it these day.
Because as you can see schlepping all around with a baby at the flea market can be kinda dangerous.
Yes, Charlie is under there. Look at that man, just judging me. Oh and I ran into countless friends, which is always nice and got to walk around with Justina for a while which is a treat because there are very few people who I have this much in common with – We are both based in LA, and we are both designers/stylists, bloggers, and moms. I could talk to her for 12 hours straight.
And then this dude woke up and riding in his sweat lodge of a stroller wasn’t something he was into, so I put him to work.
All in all, it wasn’t the most successful trip to the Rose Bowl because going with a toddler is rather distracting, but it was still super fun. I don’t want to give up Sundays with him, but I also don’t want to give up the flea market. I’m tempted to book a babysitter to come with me but that feels rather weird. But then again I just paid Jessica to follow me around like paparazzi for 3 hours at the market so life is just full of slippery slopes, isn’t it? She was going to be there anyway so I asked her if I could pay her a few hours to do a post and she was into it.
I personally think that he loves it. It’s a lot of visual stimulation, he can cruise around a lot when I have the patience and he’s not yet running so I’m not totally worried I’ll lose him. YET. I’m still a firm believer in happy parent, happy kid and the flea market makes me pretty darn happy so until one of us acts miserable while we are there, I think we’ll power through the flea market.
Random resources for those who are interested: My jeans (which are super stretchy without being jeggings, comfortable and fairly flattering although I’m no model), my leather bag, my Baby BJorn ONE carrier although we have it in the gray mesh, the stroller, Charlie’s shoes.
*All photos by Jessica Isaacs.