Mt Pleasant News

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Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 21, 2018
Swap Meet

Not in it to make a nickel

Flea marketers gather at Greater Iowa Swap Meet over the weekend
May 30, 2018
Photo by: Grace King Keith Zieser, of Walker, plays the accordian during the Swap Meet and Flea Market at McMillan Park on Saturday, May 26. Zieser said he has been coming to the flea “for a long time.” He had six accordians for sale over the weekend and six more at his house.

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News


Vendors at the Greater Iowa Swap Meet and Flea Market over the weekend at McMillan Park in Mt. Pleasant didn’t set up shop in the sweltering heat to make a profit.

For collectors like Gary Klopfenstein, of Wayland, becoming a flea marketer is about joining another world — one where he can meet his “neighbors” from all across the U.S.

With goods for sale ranging from tractor parts to craft goods, the annual market attracts buyers and sellers with its abundance of “junk with potential,” as Rick Stone, of St. Louis, Mo., put it. In his third year of selling parts and his fifth year as a customer at the market, Stone can tell who he calls the “common folks” from the serious customers.

One of the operators at the Trading Post during the Old Threshers Reunion in the fall, Stone said one-third to half of his vendors were represented at the Swap Meet, looking for one person’s junk to turn it into something worth reselling.

“You really don’t know it until you see it,” Stone said as customers perused the items he had spread on the grass.

On the other side of the grounds, Kenneth Witres, of Wayland, Mo., sat with his wife in the shade, chatting with customers and enjoying the peacefulness of a warm Saturday morning. He and his wife have been selling at shows like the Swap Meet for 30 years.

It’s one of Witres’ favorite pastimes to go to auctions and buy something; however, he says for every item he buys, there’s two other people who want it more than he does and drive the price up. Regardless, going to auctions, finding interesting artifacts and reselling them has become a hobby.

“I just love to go to sales, buy stuff, make a couple dollars,” Witres said. “We make a nickel off it and meet a lot of nice folks.” One of the items he sold over the weekend was a Coca-Cola cooler for $165 that a man bought for his wife as an anniversary present.

Witres’ house is filled with unique items like that. “We’ve got stuff, stuff and more stuff,” he said, but his wife can always find room for that one more thing.

While some vendors repurpose items to sell, Jessica Feuer was selling 10 years’ worth of pottery projects at her booth. Hailing from Long Island, N.Y., Feuer relocated to Burlington last fall and just started looking for shows like the Swap Meet and Flea Market to get her name out to the public.

Feuer began making pottery in high school, staying late and fiddling with the old, dusty wheel in the back of her art classroom. Since then she graduated from Alfred University, which she said is one of the top colleges for pottery in the U.S.

Now, she teaches pottery classes at Burlington Art Center — sharing with students how pottery can be therapeutic.

“Being dirty, covered in clay, surrounded by the high-temperature kiln, I want to close the gap between (pottery) maker and user,” Feuer said.

Although after the first day of the market she hadn’t sold many items, Feuer said she had “definitely gotten a lot of eyes.”

Still for other vendors the event is a chance to share a family passion. Kelly Brousseau explained that her family is a family of collectors.

“We own multiple buildings that are full. This is us trying to purge,” she said.

Each family member’s passion was on display at their vendor booth. Brousseau herself said she is in the process of collecting midcentury Polynesian items while her husband and son collect artifacts from the military. Her daughter, on the other hand, focuses on antique furniture.

While Brousseau said they do walk away from the market with some money, it’s more about getting rid of the stuff. The same goes for Nancy Smith, of Letts, and Betty Blake, of Orion, Ill. Experiencing their first year as vendors, the two women said they had heard a lot of good things about the market and wanted to try it out for themselves.

“We’ll be back,” Blake said.

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