Options Aerial View: Playlist from March 25, 2014 Options

Aerial View was WFMU’s first regularly-scheduled phone-in talk show. Hosted by Chris T. and on the air since 1989, the show features topical conversation, interviews and many trips down the rabbit hole. Until further notice, Aerial View is only available as a podcast, available every Tuesday morning. Subscribe to the newsletter “See You Next Tuesday!” and find tons of archives at aerialview.me. (Visit homepage.)

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Options March 25, 2014: Got any flexibility on this? Chris T. @ the Meadowlands Flea
"Got any flexibility on this?" Chris T. @ the Meadowlands Flea. Spend an hour hunting for bargains with Chris T. at the area’s largest ongoing flea market, the New Meadowlands Market. Chris introduces you to some of the shoppers and vendors who keep the market alive and shares tips and tricks for getting the price you want without causing offense.

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 "Got any flexibility on this?"
Chris T. @ the Meadowlands Flea

A Very Special Aerial View

Scenes from the New Meadowlands Market.
I bet that got your attention, eh? Well, it's true: this week's Aerial View is very special. The entire hour (and I mean "entire": there's no time for an intro) will consist of my recent trip to the Meadowlands Flea Market, officially known as the New Meadowlands Market. I've been coming to the Meadowlands Flea for probably ten years, maybe more. I still can't remember how I found out about it. But nearly every Saturday morning, rain or shine, the Market is happening just west of Giants Stadium and north of NJ Route 3 in the Meadowlands Sports Complex.

I've been going to flea markets since I was a snot-nosed youth. It's my form of hunting. I don't go out in the woods and shoot at deer: I look for cool stuff at the flea market. One of the best was in the town where my grandmother lived, Copiague, on Long Island. It was held in the parking lot of the country's largest drive-in theater, the Johnny All-Weather Drive-In. I have fond memories of searching up and down the aisles for treasure alongside my mother and father. Those early trips honed my approach: the ever-roving eye. Keep it moving, keep yourself moving, take it all in at a glance, stop when something catches your eye. Check out everything, even if you think a table is mostly covered with crap: there are gems in amongst the garbage. Flea markets also appeal to my "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" need: why buy new when you can probably get something better for much less (as long as you don't mind pre-owned)? A recent example: the beautiful Tiltall tripod I picked up for $27 (bargained down from $35). This aluminum beauty was made in Rutherford, New Jersey (in the Flea Market's backyard) sometime between 1945 and 1973 and is in fantastic shape for its age. When I began researching it after I got it home I found there's an online community that fetishizes these tripods. And I can understand why. It comes from an era that's mostly gone: witness the cheap, Chinese tripod I had been using (and click here to see the website for the current company calling itself Tiltall and marvel at their horrible translation into English).

I'll admit I'm spoiled by the fact the Meadowlands Flea Market is ten minutes from my house... there's volumes to be said for convenience. But that's not the only reason it kicks major ass. There's a good mix of "other people's junk" and "tube socks and cheap handbags". The aisles on the south side feature lots of clean outs, dealers in antiques and collectibles, a ton of old audio gear, boxes of 45s and LPs, serviceable furniture, vintage clothing and American-made tools. To the north are your tube socks, iPhone accessories, etc. Sprinkled throughout are food vendors. There are too many "meat on a stick" carts but you can also get a killer Taylor ham, egg & cheese on a roll from the little red cart on the west end or great Mexican food from the tent in the northwest corner. Admittedly, none of the food is "artisanal" or of Brooklyn Flea caliber. But neither are the prices.

The people-watching at the Meadowlands Flea Market brings you a mighty cross-section of the people that make New Jersey great: recent immigrants, Union members, young toughs, old coots and real characters all can be seen traipsing up and down the aisles. Some seek treasure for resale, some need cleaning supplies, others are looking for fresh air and a good overheard. The Meadowlands Flea is also pet-friendly and there are always dogs afoot and even the occasional shoulder parrot.

The best part? My trips to the flea market pay for themselves: I've scored great finds there and put them on eBay for incredible profits. At the Meadowlands Flea you can still find things that are woefully undervalued. And if you know how to bargain (see below) you can even knock off a few more dollars. Like the Shure FP24 Field Preamp I bought for $35 and sold for $355. No kidding. I talked the guy down $5 from $40. Of course, now that it's gone, I can actually use it. D'oh!

On tonight's show listen for chats with vendors, overheard bargaining, an interview with a young vinyl buyer, conversation with Jim C. and my wife and tips and commentary from me. And if you ever decide to experience the flea market for yourself, get there by 9 AM, leave by 11 and look the guy with his eyes constantly moving...

My Patented Bargaining Method

Meadowlands Flea Finds
Saturday's flea market haul. L - R: NJ Tercentenary trivet w/state bird (not that bird), $3; "Small Change" holder, $2;
Funeral flag, $5; Vintage Bird books, etc., $7.

I'm always amazed by the ham-fisted haggling I hear go on at the flea market. A vendor has a price of $40 on something and the potential buyer picks it up and yells "I'll give you twenty bucks!" That's not the way to do it. Such an approach only antagonizes the vendor, who spent much effort and money on securing a spot at the market and stocking it with stuff. Here's my patented approach to bringing that $40 price down to something more reasonable, a powerful phrase that should be in your arsenal, wherever you like to bargain:
"Do you have any flexibility on this?"

That's it. It seems to simple to be true, right? That's it beauty: it's simple to understand and it won't offend anyone. The worst a seller can say in reply is "No." If you're not willing to pay the full price, move on, another powerful bargaining tool: the walk away. But you must be willing to walk away and mean it. When I've used the walk away I often find a vendor calling after me, offering to drop the price. And a vendor who isn't willing to haggle just a bit is not someone with whom I care to do business. Like the guy selling the vintage watches who admonished me as I reached for one: "Don't touch the watches!" Okay. I won't touch them, I won't look at them and I certainly won't be buying one.

Last Week: Anybody remember laughter?

Led Zeppelin Marquee
On last week's Aerial View we heard stories about the first, the best, the worst and the rest of the big concerts you've seen. Click the Led Zeppelin marquee above to hear the show.
How To Hear Aerial View
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ON DEMAND ARCHIVES: The Aerial View Archive page features archives going back to nearly the beginning of the show in RealAudio and MP3 format.
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Chris T. asks a caller to hold
Me, age 4, telling a caller to hold.
 "I'll see you TONIGHT, 6 PM Eastern time, on WFMU!"
Aerial View
Aerial View
Artist Track Year
Chris T.  At The Meadowlands Flea   Options 2014 

Listener comments!

Avatar Tue. 3/25/14 6:38pm Chris T.:

Sorry about that: forgot to turn on the dang comments!
Avatar Tue. 3/25/14 6:43pm Mike East:

great pics, Chris...just wish I could slow them down!
Enjoying the show, too. Do you think I could find some cheap but decent high bias blank cassette tapes there? I just acquired an old 4 track.
Avatar Tue. 3/25/14 6:47pm steve:

thanks for this! sounds like there's some pretty nice audio-related stuff there. i'd love to get an ancient tape echo machine like that. i'm in brooklyn and have all but given up on flea markets in NYC. looks like Penn Station is the easiest way to get there?
Avatar Tue. 3/25/14 6:54pm dale:

geesh - been DYING to comment. chris - google caswell plating for buffing supplies. they sell a kit with the arbors and rod and pulley if you have a motor. a grinder that runs at 3450 rpms is too fast for buffing. i made a setup recently out of an antique dual arbor, sears 'driver line' 1750 motor and 8 inch pads from sears. the black and red compounds are good for buffing aluminum. get one medium hard wheel for the black cutting compound and a soft wheel for the red rouge.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 3/25/14 6:55pm Ken From Hyde Park:

In the 1980's, I attended an indoor flea market on Hwy 1 in NJ a couple of times. I wonder if they're still going. I forget what town that was in.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 3/25/14 6:59pm Ken From Hyde Park:

That was apparently in New Brunswick and in 1996 converted to a Loews theater.
Avatar Tue. 3/25/14 7:11pm Chris T.:

Mike: I slowed the pics down for you. I apologize again for not having the comments working right away.
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