Shopping malls, for better or worse, have occupied the "honored" position of cultural hub at least for the decade of the '80s. But we are in a new decade, and I maintain we have a new locus of cultural power and vitality: the flea market.
One Person's Junk...
For the occasional collector or hobbyist, flea markets are the Super Bowl of yard sales. We find table after table of treasures just waiting to be discovered, seemingly endless choices of gadgets amid gizmos, all of which have multiple uses (but most of which will never be used).
Best of all is the occasional uncovering of a valuable item that has personal significance. We become ecstatic to find an exact duplicate of the Montana belt buckle that had been a gift from a junior high buddy. Or an A&W root beer mug that those tasty floats came in. Or a vintage comic book with familiar characters and a new plot.
Flea markets are a place to catch a bit of personal history. Such nostalgia is not a bad thing in moderation.
Is Another's Treasure
Moderation, however, is not what the current flea market binge is about. Nostalgia has become profitable, and some people are making serious money at it.