It got up to almost 70 degrees today.
In the Chicago suburbs, that's quite an abnormality in early March. Walking to school today in that pleasantly warm weather reminded me of how I feel walking across all the aisles on a perfect Sunday afternoon at the local flea market.
It got me even more excited for its triumphant return on April 1st.
Barring any weather complications, my mom and I will be there on the day it opens. Lock, stock, and barrel.
I'm even more excited for it to come back this year because of a new pleasure that's come into my daily life lately.
I came up with an idea last night, and I'd like to hear some feedback on what people think of it.
I thought I'd track my flea market spending week-by-week over the spring and summer, along with how many cards I bought each trip. At the end of the season, I'd come up with a grand total on how much it set me back, and how much I paid per card.
Perhaps I could even hold a monthly contest or something for people to guess how much I'm going spend at the flea market each month.
I know I bring this flea market up a lot on this blog.
But let me show you just how great it is, and give you a preview of the type of stuff I'll probably be finding this summer.
For starters, I got the '72 Topps Hank Aaron at the top of this post for just two dollars.
There's usually a cluster of three vendors who are there with their cards every week.
If I'm feeling thrifty, I'll look through the first couple aisles of general flea market stuff with my mom. But if I just want to get to those pieces of cardboard, I'll just go straight to those vendors out of the gate.
The guy I usually buy the most cards from is the guy I brought up in my first card show post.
I've been regularly going to the flea market for the past two summers. The first year, that guy used to have a box of quarter vintage cards, filled with different ones each week. (Night Owl would be jealous; he often had a stack of '75 Topps Minis in that box.)
He only brought that box along a couple times last year. However, they still had great cards, as you can see by the two cards above.
The guy has some great quarter boxes, too.
He usually brings about three or four baseball quarter boxes each week. On my $20 budget, I usually only look through one per week.
That Denny's Jackie Robinson card is a hundred times cooler in person.
However, the main draw of this vendor's table are his dime boxes.
He usually has a huge box of baseball cards, all for a dime a piece, or 100 for $7.
It's got everything. I've found cards from the mid-'70s to the present in there over the years. That box is the one that made me realize the true greatness of dime boxes.
You can thank the flea market for that.
I don't usually buy a ton from the second vendor, but I have come away with some great stuff from him last year.
The Jim Morris card is still my newest addition to my collection of his. Price? Just a quarter.
I absolutely love Gordon Beckham's 2010 National Chicle SP. Those throwback Sox uniforms are awesome. It set me back three bucks, but the vendor threw in a '66 Topps Rico Carty card I wanted for free with it.
Not bad at all.
These were impulse buys.
I spent five bucks a piece on these. The backs have some gunk from an old photo album, which explains why they were that cheap.
I had an extra $10 left over one week and I figured, "How often am I going to come across these cards for that low of a price?"
So I bought them.
The third and final vendor in that cluster has mostly newer cards.
He's got about four or five dime boxes. He doesn't get too many new cards in, but every time I think I've seen everything I wanted in those boxes, I find a new stack of cards for my collection.
He put out a small stack of 12/$1 Conlon Collection cards one week. It was like baseball card heaven.
It's been over a year since I acquired that Fred Merkle card, and I still can't get over how awesome it is.
It's definitely one of my all-time favorite flea market finds.
On select weeks, I'll find baseball card vendors outside of that little cluster.
I've always wanted a Jacoby Ellsbury rookie card, but I never thought I'd find a reasonably priced one, considering the monster year he had in 2011.
However, I managed to snag this one for a quarter from one of the vendors on one of the last weeks of the flea market season last year.
My mom also found a great Roberto Clemente plaque that wound up being one of my Christmas presents last year. (She found the table while I was looking through the cards at the "cluster".)
It was a win-win.
These two cards came from one of the greatest dime boxes I've ever looked through.
I've already shown the epic Robin Yount card I snagged from this box. These '74 Hunter and Cash cards are a couple more of the great finds from that box.
The box literally had a little of everything. There were cards from the '60s , cards from the overproduction era, and even a few cards from recent issues.
I'd never seen that guy set up at the flea market before, and I've never seen him since.
I really wish he'd come back.
A couple weeks, there was a guy with a box of mostly early-'80s Fleer/Donruss cards for a nickel a piece.
Since I don't have too much from that era, it worked out perfectly. Before I looked through that box, I had never seen that Mark Fidrych card before.
That vendor also had a few of the RC soda cans from the '70s that had baseball players on them for a buck a piece. I bought the Mark Fidrych, Rusty Staub, Dave Concepcion, Steve Garvey, and Al Oliver cans. I had a feeling that my dad would remember those from when he was younger, and he did.
More nickel cards!
There was another vendor with a small box of nickel cards one week. That numbered Vlad Guerrero card is one of my favorites in my large collection of his.
I still can't believe it only cost me a nickel.
I'd been looking for a card of the late Gary Carter in a Dodgers uniform for as long as I could remember.
I found not one, but two in that nickel box.
Ah, the simple joys of a low-end baseball card collector.
That same vendor was back last summer with a dime box.
I've talked about this box before with one of the best things I saw at the flea market last year.
The box had a ton of Topps Archives cards in it. But probably the best thing I found was a bunch of '50s Bowman reprints.
If these are any indication, I'll have to pick up a real '50s Bowman card one of these days.
The cards I've shown in this post just scratch the surface of all the great cards I've found over the last couple years.
Wouldn't you be excited if your flea market had stuff like this?
April 1st can't come soon enough.