Perhaps the best kept secret of the Dallas area is First Monday Trade Days. This is giant "flea market" is over 100 years old, and it takes place the weekend before the first Monday of the month. It runs Thursday through Sunday and vendors from all over the US set up shop for thousands of shoppers who drive out to Canton, Texas from equally as far and wide. Mom and I used to go every month, but now our visits are few and far between because of distance.
Last Saturday, we took the plunge and drove the short half hour to First Monday. Typically we go on a Thursday, the first day of the shopping weekend, because it is less crowded. We also usually avoid going in the summer months because Texas is H-O-T. Since it was a holiday weekend, we knew it would be one of two things: ridiculously overcrowded or surprisingly sparse. Thankfully it was the second and our trip was truly enjoyable. A light breeze kept the scalding heat away, such a blessing for this weakling fresh out of the sunless Seattle skies.
This is one of the pavilions Mom and I frequent. First Monday spans over 100 acres and welcomes over 6,000 vendors! You can find everything from Grandma's garage sale to "As Seen on TV" miracles. This particular pavilion has three rows of shops on either side, and the covering is coveted. I wish I had taken more pictures of the shops because I can't do them justice otherwise. Many of my our antiques and decor have come from Canton over the years. Dad always knows to be on standby if we call and ask for the trailer ;)
The Beginner's Guide to First Monday Canton:
1. Wear comfortable shoes. Close-toed shoes, preferably. You don't want to get run over by a buggy or stub your toe on the pavement. Believe me.
2. Dress for the weather. In summer, wear sunscreen and a lot of it. In the winter, wear layers. You'll be out in the open most of the time.
3. Visit on Thursday or Friday. You'll get first pick of the treasures and the crowds won't be too bad. Most Saturdays there is barely room to walk.
4. Plan to spend a full day and get there early. Mom and I shop from 8am to at least noon, but it's because we've narrowed it down to our favorite places. You could come every day of the weekend and still not see it all.
5. If you love it, go for it! There are plenty of one-of-a-kind items, and there is no guarantee it will be there when you pass back through.
6. Bring cash and a checkbook/debit card. Many vendors do take credit cards but the smaller ones will be cash only. There are ATM's scattered, but it's best to have cash on hand. You also have to pay to park, cash only.
Say hello to the star of the show, Old Faithful, the classic Canton buggy. Mom has had this since before I was born, and they are the thing to bring to First Monday. If you don't come often enough to buy your own, they are for rent in several of the Arbors (You can also rent motorized scooters with a canopy and drink holders... but you don't want to be one of those people... besides, they don't always fit in the booths).
Our secret is in the wheels. Dad put on old wheelbarrow wheels some time ago and our cart makes it over the gravel and uneven terrain like a champ. You can customize your buggy bag, with plenty pretty patterns for sale around the market, and we have updated ours once or twice. I look forward to someday having my own Canton buggy, but I think that means I'll have to make my own purchases, and I'm in no hurry! (Thanks, Mom!)
There was no way I was leaving without a shot of this beauty! I don't think it was for sale, but these vendors go ALL OUT. You can truly find anything your heart desires at Canton. There is even Dog Alley, a specific area for dog breeders to bring their pups. It's not the nicest part of the market, but there are puppies galore! Who doesn't love that?
This is Mom's favorite place to stop. In the summer, a frozen coffee cools us down and in the winter, gourmet hot chocolate warms us up. They give out free samples and it is located in the center of the biggest Arbor. Just down the way from it is a row of "store front" restaurants, and you can even find state fair favorites. Don't go too crazy on the funnel cakes, though. You still have to trek across the world to get back to your car.
My favorite purchase of the day is my monogrammed market tote! The pattern is a shining gold and I got the zip pouch to match. Cindy's is my new favorite vendor and it is the first one we go to upon arrival. They do t-shirts, tanks, tumblers, door signs, and purses of all shapes, sizes, and colors. We pop in when they open at 8, place our order, and it is ready for pick up by the time we leave at noon. Usually. Definitely seek her out if you go!
If anyone is in the Dallas area and wants to take a trip sometime, hit me up! There are plenty of treasures to go around. And if you know of any other flea markets out there, do tell :)