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September 28, 2007Glenn Turner

Welcome to the DuPage County Fairgrounds, home of the Wheaton, Illinois All-Night Flea Market! Yes, we were drawn away from the sanctity of Chicago to this smaller Illinois town, primarily based on the novelty of a nocturnal flea market. But what a novelty it is – we're so used to having to wake up at the crack of dawn to venture out for thrifty treasures that to be able to do so under the moon is an event to be savored for sure.

It turns out that, having a gigantic flea market in the middle of the night presents its own set of problems, mostly lighting-related. While the intense fairground lights flooded most of the area, some lots managed to be cloaked in darkness, which is why most folks, those used to these kind of outings, brandished headlamps.

We had anticipated this and had brought our own amazingly unwieldy flashlight, but we were vastly unprepared for everything else.

G. Turner: Floodlights, show us the way to quality interactive bargains!

G. Turner: Floodlights, you led us astray.

Unitdaisy: What? Everyone loves a game of checkers.

G: I can't speak for Unitdaisy, but the event was much more sprawling than I had anticipated. I imagined it'd be an expanded version of a church rummage sale, where sellers (mostly) cram into one massive space and hock their wares. Instead, there were makeshift tents scattered across the entire fairground, some folks inside the fairground garages, some in the parking lot. In other words, it certainly was the open-air market it was billed to be.

UD: I found it met my expectations for sprawlingness but lacked really great finds. No dusty boxes of treasures if you just take the time to root through them. More like a community garage sale.

G: This bit of political commentary lurked over one of the first sellers we encountered at the market, and set an odd tone for the rest of the night. Also, the seller certainly prided himself as barker, shouting enticements at any and all who walked by.

G: White powder, Fujian tea!

UD: I wonder if it can even turn my brown eyes blue.

G: This was the first game-related item we bumped into, sadly indicative of the disproportionate number of interactive entertainment being sold on the premises.

G: Also, did it have to be the Shadow McDonald's game, and not say, Knuckles, or a more appealing character?

UD: But I think we already have Knuckles; if we'd picked this up we could have completed the set!

G: Cripes, nightmare fuel.

G: I get to be Apollo! You can be Boxy.

UD: Who's Boxy? I don't think I want to be this Boxy person.

G: Okay, Muffit II then [Thanks Ronn!].

G: Puntacular.

G: Classic, but common, PC games. Also: Print Studio.

UD: We have plenty of those already.

G: One of our favorite garagesaling finds remains to this day the old, old, old home pinball game 'Trik-E-Shot', so it was kind of neat to see this game, 'Poosh-M-Up Jr. 4-in-1' for sale. However, the sticker price of $140 was absolutely ridiculous. It's not even worth half that, although it was in nice condition.

UD: Although it might have been worth it to try bargaining. After all, as the hour gets later one expects the deals to get better.

G: Not game-related, but still neat. Dig that cover art!

UD: Now if that had been a reasonable price it would be framed on our wall right now.

G: We didn't realize it then, but it actually was a pretty darn good price. Not a price we were willing to pay for Buck Rogers, but it was a better deal than 'Poosh-M-Up Jr.'.

G: Rescuebot, take me away!

UD: No hope for you. Rescuebot is busy.

G: A still from Silent Hill 5, or a niche seller trading solely in doll parts? You be the judge.

UD: Certainly the creepiest spread we found.

G: One of the stranger displays consisted of iron-based works like this ant, presumably inspired by THEM!. I'm not exactly sure what price people put on such artifacts – what price can you put on them?

G: Frankly, I think the entire sign deserves to be in quotes, not just "Slot".

UD: Could have come home with us. Then we could redo our kitchen all chrome and 50's.

G: There are sheep in these lands.

UD: Invisible sheep, just like Forbidden Planet!

G: Limited interest, perhaps.

G: While I appreciate the seller's clarity, $30 for an NES, the newer Zapper and three common games is not much of a deal. And given how quickly other customer's faces fell when they noticed the price, I'd say I wasn't alone in that thought.

G: Yawn. Another N64, more sports games. At least I get to experience this disappointment at midnight instead of 8am in the sweltering Saturday sun!

UD: Oh cloudy memory. It was hardly ever sweltering at 8am.

G: Okay, 8:01am.

G: An undeniably crummy picture, but see how warped the manual is? It didn't arrive to the market in this condition – no. It's actually quite water damaged, thanks to the dew point spreading a thick layer of condensation over everything left out in the open. Sadly, this means that practically anything paper-related that wasn't bagged received some sort of water damage that many sellers simply didn't recognize or try to prevent.

Why? It's beyond me. Many comics were just left out in the open, degrading more and more by the second. Granted, most of them worth less than the spare change in my pockets, but it seemed particularly negligent.

UD: This was indeed a disappointing aspect of the market. Some display cases were so covered with dew the glass fronts were opaque. I did buy some paper items, now I must smash them smooth to the best of my ability.

G: Dreamcast! We rarely see one of these 'in the wild' nowadays, but when we do it's like seeing an old friend! Too bad that this friend didn't have any games of interest.

UD: Shouldn't we stock up though? Just incase one of the two we have decide to go out to pasture?

G: This is still part of the same table from the prior two photos. As you can see, they have a lot of games but ... they're mostly lackluster last-gen games and nothing to write home about (or even explicitly photograph). Except for the Game Boy Color case – I'm not really why they have that. I almost regret not picking it up as it'd fit in nicely next to my Dreamcast satchel and my Game Gear tote bag!

UD: I'll buy you that NES belt buckle and then you will be all cool again.

G: See? Pretty lackluster.

G: They did have a few NES carts though, and I'm quite glad to have finally re-acquired a copy of Solstice. Scheherazade was purchased at UD's request, and the Playmakers season DVD was practically thrown in for free with the carts.

UD: Yea! A story telling game!

G: It's closing in on 1am, and these finds aren't helping to keep me awake.

G: It's no 'Monkey on the Lam', but it'll suffice! The blurred hand sneaking into the frame? That's the seller. Like many sellers, once the clock nears 1:30am they start closing up shop, despite the fact that the market's supposed to be open until 4am. Many of the food vendors looked to be in it for the long haul though, and I picked up my very first bloomin' flower onion. Grease-a-licious.

UD: He wanted some outrageous amount for it. Maybe I don't know the Monkey Riding Horse market very well – but really.

G: More yawn-inducing PC games. If it were two years ago, I might have been tempted by King's Quest V, except now I already have two copies collecting dust on my shelf.

G: While Unitdaisy was picking up some delicious nun-baked pastries, I wandered around and found some nicely textured brass instruments.

UD: Hardly, I don't care if they imported that nun from France, those madeleines were substandard.

G: Perfect for the broken-down jazz man in your life!

UD: Hrumph. I never saw these in person; I notice you didn't point them out while we were there, probably because you thought I would bring them home. You thought right.

G: More sundry commons.

G: It's not quite the Enigma machine, but anything that has Mr. Wizard's approval has to be good.

UD: I just keep my own private windtalker with me at all times.

G: Along our final pass through the market, I spied a huge table of ...aging, shovelware PC games. And multiple copies of each, to boot!

G: This was the only game that didn't look utterly generic, and I still passed on it.

G: We did find a few additional non-game items of interest, such as some nice typeface blocks. Right as we were heading towards the exit, we stumbled upon an entire bucket full of old, engraved fonts that we were quite interested in, but... it didn't work out.

UD: It was 2am, lady, couldn't you have cut us a better deal?

G: And with that, we meandered back to the car to endure the hour-long trip back to Chicago, now able to brag to our friends that we endured an all-night flea market. Would I head back next year? Nah. Once I got over the sheer size & sprawl of the market, I found that it had a much higher trash-to-treasure ratio than your standard Chicago garage sales, even when taking price out of the equation. Perhaps if we had attended the market earlier, when there was actual daylight, we would have scored some niftier items but that would have defeated the purpose of attending an all-night flea market now, wouldn't it?

3 comments for ‘Saling the Streets: Wheaton All-Night Flea Market 2007’

#1 Servo Sep 30, 2007 03:36pm

Hooray, I love these articles. They can be a nice change of pace from your typical "games are art!" rants. Kidding, of course.

Can't believe you passed on the Rescuebot, though. Hope you never need rescuing...

#2 R. LeFeuvre Oct 4, 2007 06:41pm

You can't be "Daggit".... DUH! What you mean to say is that you can be "Muffit II," the robotic doppleganger of the Cylon-obliterated daggit species. A Robo-dog-bear. Portrayed by a monkey.

Who is awesome.

#3 Glenn Turner Oct 6, 2007 01:54am

I think you just blew my mind.