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This is my small business. My flea market booth. I call it Bee’s Miscellany.

Bee’s Miscellany has been a bug in my mind for more than a decade now. I’ve always had a fascination with old things, cast-off objects, forgotten treasures that rust half away before they are seen and appreciated once again. These things have stories that may or may not ever be known, or may be reinvented in our imaginations, if we so choose. The thrill of finding something with an unknown history and helping to give it new life is what drives collectors to the hunt on a regular basis, spending hours perusing dusty basements, elbowing through estate sales, stopping for broken curbside freebies, and maybe even delicately sorting through the trash (just a little bit.) These “pickers,” as they are known, have no shame when it comes to the potential for an interesting score. At least, the succesful ones have no shame. I’m still working on overcoming my self-consciousness in order to assert myself in favor of finding new weird and wonderful treasures. It’s a learning process, certainly.

Less than two years ago I got caught up in a new-to-me pasttime: visiting flea markets. This is something I had done in the past and had enjoyed, but I had always thought of it as something too eccentric to do on a regular basis. At last, I realized that the weirdness of the pursuit is half the fun, and that there is an entire community of people out there who devote major portions of their lives to collecting, researching, repurposing, and re-selling the objects they find. There is a very specialized kind of expertise that comes with training your eye to pick out what is valuable (to you or to others) and what is not, and I very humbly admit that I have only begun to scratch the surface of what there is to learn about it all.

So, over the course of about a year, I visited and revisited every antique mall and flea market and salvage store I could find within easy driving distance. Thrifting has always been a thing for me, but I began to head back to those Goodwills and Salvation Army outlets with new eyes, and a piqued curiosity. I began to realize how much joy I felt when overwhelming my senses with booth after booth at the flea markets. I began to think to myself, “Who are these people creating these booths? Are they very successful, or is it just a hobby? How does one go about getting involved in this? Is this really something I could think about doing myself, some day???”

Being somewhat timid by nature, it took me many months to muster the courage to simply start asking these questions. Fortunately, I overheard a coworker mention something about pricing items for her booth, and I proceeded to ask her a bunch of hungry questions about her experiences. She was pretty tight-lipped about her sources for items to resell, but I gained enough information to inspire me to (eventually) move forward with my inquiries. When I finally did speak up one day at my favorite flea market, asking if they had any information about renting a booth space, I was disappointed to learn that they were going to be closing that location within a month and weren’t taking any new vendors. But lo and behold, they ended up moving into a bright and shiny new facility, and suddenly had ample space for newbies like me. I was in!

Even so, the thought of undertaking any new endeavor will always make me nervous, and so it was with a great deal of anxiety that I almost didn’t follow through with showing up and signing the rental contract on my tiny little space. The woman who helped get me signed up didn’t have very helpful answers to the many questions I had about the process of operating a flea market booth, and the internet and library had virtually no information to give out either, so I decided to just learn it all as I went along. Which is what I have been doing for the past six months. And I have a lot more learning to do!

The one thing that surprised me most about my new adventure was how eagerly people came to my support. Many people seemed excited for me, and thankfully, many people generously supplied me with the initial items with which to set up my booth for opening day! Some people that I hadn’t talked to in years came out of the woodwork to offer items to me, or simply to inquire about when and where the booth would be opening, so they could check it out. I hadn’t expected that my new endeavor would spark so much interest among my network of acquaintances, and I was touched to see how many of them rallied behind the idea. It gave me the courage to follow through with something that may not seem terribly difficult, objectively speaking, but was a new and scary thing for me.

In the past six months, I have reaped a wealth of benefit from Bee’s Miscellany. My monetary profits aren’t anything to shout about, but I have kept my expectations low in that regard. The experience of starting my own little business had the power to pull me out of a dark place in the early months of this year, and that has been the most valuable part of all. The support and interest shown by my friends and loved ones has been an enormous bonus that I had never anticipated when I started out! I have a hobby that makes a little cash. I get to dig through other peoples’ cast-off items and figure out what they are and clean them up, give them new life, and find them new homes. I get to be creative. I get to make discoveries of quirky items and share their stories with my friends. Sometimes I find items that find a permanent home with me, and that’s great too. I can operate this entire process behind the scenes and at my own pace, which is a perfect situation for me. There really isn’t anything about this endeavor that is not totally awesome, and I am so glad that I decided to give it a try.

Feel free to follow along with my journey on social media, or stop by Emporium 40E if you are ever in the area! No purchase necessary, and I will be forever grateful.

Bee’s Miscellany on Facebook

Bee’s Miscellany on Instagram

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