Waldo flea market wide open for treasure hunting

It might be the best place to strike up a conversation about anything and everything after months of sticking close to home.

Most vendors at the Waldo Farmers and Flea Market spend their Saturdays and Sundays doing just that.

Jewelry repairman Tim Armstrong has his shop set up near the front of the market in spot M-06, where he will gladly do a free ring cleaning and inspection.

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Armstrong has been fixing bling for 28 years. A year and a half ago, he set up shop at the flea market and caters to those who need affordable fixes of their jewels.

“Everything I do is for wholesale so it’s affordable,” said Armstrong. He’s on site Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and said he can add and subtract links to watches or other jewelry, replace batteries and other minor repairs.

“And I have a person who can handle major repairs, too,” he said about hooking customers up with a referral.

Armstrong said sometimes he buys jewelry when people pass through, and he enjoys buying and selling antiques such as German military helmets from the 1930s and primitive arrowheads.

Over in Building B, 94-year-old John Stephens, said he enjoys the people coming through his 50 feet of space that is under cover.

“I like talking to people,” Stephens said as he sat amongst record albums, tools, clothes and heaps of this and that. “They’re really friendly around here.”

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A couple of buildings away there is a silver old trumpet some believe was made for the world fair in 1900. The middle valve is higher than the rest, and it’s about 122 years old and looks longer and thinner than a normal trumpet.

In Building F, spread out over several spaces, book seller Lee Sigmon has a library of fiction and nonfiction vintage books and magazines.

Sigmon started selling 12 years ago at outside booths, then graduated up to a fully covered one.

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His prized possession is a 1926 edition of The Himalayas book by Charles W. Maynard.

Lee knows his stuff and began reading as a kid. When he moved from North Carolina more than two decades ago, he sold his personal book collection, and turned it into a business he enjoys.

There are baby bunnies in a crib in one booth, and colorful, fresh fruits and veggies two booths over from there.

The place is a draw of more than 100,000 people a weekend under normal circumstances, but right now it’s building back up to that—starting this weekend since the lifting of any COVID-19 capacity limits.

According to office manager Savanna Miller, rental spaces measuring 10 feet square range from $16-$18 a day depending on if they are inside, outside or in the more desirable spots.

Those spots are available up to two weeks before or on the day of a requested sale date, Miller said.

Each booth rental comes with two tables and vendors can also request a two-booth monthly deal for $160 plus a month including four tables.

On Saturday and Sunday afternoons there is a “spin to win” contest that vendors are automatically entered into and customers can also fill out a ticket for a drawing. The top prize on the wheel is $150 with a chance to double it.

Concessions cover all of the major snack groups. This week there will be Philly cheese steak guys and mini donuts, smoothies and empanadas, Miller said. Add that to the french fries, deep fried Twinkies and cajun boiled peanuts for a comfort food fix.

If you go: 

  • Website: www.waldofleamarket.com
  • Flea Market Office (352) 468-2255
  • Hours: 8 a.m. to 4:40 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday
  • Office hours: Friday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
  • Pet friendly (as long as your pet is on a leash and you clean up after them, Miller said)

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