Jacqui King knows more about “stuff” than most people, but admits there are items at the MoJoSales Flea Market even she can’t readily identify.
Not to worry, said King, who operates the popular flea market at the Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building. It’s all part of the fun and adventure awaiting shoppers, who never know what they’re going to find as they search and sort through the many booths offering a humongous assortment of goods.
“Sometimes there are things out there that you don’t know what they are,” said King, 63, who never tires of the hunt. Her many vendors offer “anything that’s legal,” from antiques and collectibles to tools, toys and building materials.
And, yes, some things defy identification. Those with a keen eye and a crafty inclination can reclaim almost anything, King said, adding that the recycle-repurpose-reuse concept is a boon for both the environment and do-it-yourselfers.
She’s been inviting the public to the flea market free of charge since establishing her business in 2011. Budget-conscious shoppers, savvy home decorators, collectors and browsers can find bargains and one-of-a-kind curiosities at the weekly market, held Sundays throughout the year.
Tables and tarps display goods on the east parking lot; rainy weather moves the market indoors. Five times a year a veterans group hosts sales, with MoJoSales taking its flea market to other locales those days.
Whether prompted by the economy, the lure of making a profit reselling items online, or reality TV shows like “American Pickers” or “Storage Wars” that suggest there are valuable treasures to be found among the junk, MoJoSales is going strong.
“It started out really, really small and it got bigger and bigger and bigger,” King said. She averages about 100 vendors — 140 on a recent unseasonably warm Sunday. About 50 of them make a living selling castaway items, liquidations, yard-sale finds, barn and estate sale clean-outs, wholesale merchandise and goods from defaulted storage units.
“They all know each other. It’s like a community out there,” said King, who arrives before dawn from her Boyes Hot Springs home in Sonoma Valley to oversee set-up and collect fees; vendors with reservations pay $30 per space, walk-ins $35.
“I bring a little bit of everything,” said vendor Justin McGrath of Santa Rosa, a regular seller. “You never know what anybody’s looking for. Someone’s looking for a bulletproof vest, someone else a fan for the bathroom.”
Like most vendors, he doesn’t price his merchandise. He’ll quote a price or negotiate with buyers.
Tommy Johnson, owner of Big Johnson’s Automotive in Santa Rosa, knows from experience how the system works. “If they say 10, you say five. If you plan to pay seven, that’s what you get it for,” he said.
Johnson and his wife, Michele, were out strolling the market with their Chug (Chihuahua-pug mix), Joey, satisfied with the deals they scored on a recent Sunday morning: a used water pitcher with a delicate etching of a hummingbird, and 10 new solar-powered dancing toy decorations for a display at their auto shop.
“We love coming out and walking around and seeing people we know,” Michele Johnson said. She’s been on the lookout for old-fashioned cookware at “good bargain” prices for her retro kitchen.
King, a mechanical engineer before venturing into the flea market trade, said many people head to the sales with no particular purchase in mind. Tools and collectible items are popular, but “some of it’s just impulse.”