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Hillbilly bargains

Economy affects local flea market

October 19, 2008
By HANS MADSEN, Messenger staff writer

Are you looking for any of the following items?

A Frontier Days button from 1979, a pair of Scooby Doo slippers, a fog machine, a life-sized Yoda doll, a pet rat, a stuffed deer head from the 1940s, a calf, or perhaps a bag of locally grown potatoes.

If you are, then you will find them for sale at the monthly Hillbilly Sale and Flea Market on the Webster County Fairgrounds, mostly at bargain prices.

Article Photos

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Buyers, sellers and browsers meet Saturday morning during the Hillbilly Sale and Flea Market at the Webster County Fairgrounds. In spite of the recent downturn in the economy, many of the vendors say they are still doing their normal level of business.

With the recent economic downturn making daily headlines, some of the vendors and customers at the market are seeing some effect on their sales and shopping.

Dave Lehman, of Brandon, has been in the antique business more than 20 years, he's seen the economy go up and down several times.

''People aren't buying antiques as much as they did,'' he said.

Fact Box

If you go:

What: Hillbilly Sale and Flea Market

When: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Where: Webster County Fairgrounds.

He is also finding that a lot of his customers have a budget and stick to it.

''They've come here with a set amount of money,'' he said. ''If they got the money, they just buy it.''

The downturn hasn't had any effect on his customers haggling over prices though.

''Twenty years ago when it was really good they still haggled,'' he said.

One change he did note was in what his customers are looking for.

''A lotta people buy stuff to use,'' he said.

April King and her daughter Mila, 10, of Fort Dodge, were spending a good part of the day making their way around the fairgrounds several times in search of bargains. The family seldomly misses a sale.

''It's cheap entertainment,'' she said. ''My husband looks for tools, I shop for vegetables and Mila likes the animals.''

Although normally a frugal shopper and bargain hunter, King believes that with the economy going flat, it makes sense to shop at the Hillbilly Sale.

Besides that, one of Mila's favorite treats is available on the grounds.

''I love the German chocolate cake,'' she said.

Steve Barnhardt, of Pocahontas, has been selling antiques as a hobby for over 30 years, he attends the sales on a very regular basis.

''I never miss one,'' he said.

He says that the economy hasn't had any effect on his sales,

''It's about the same,'' he said. ''People are buying.''

Brenda Wittrock, of Glidden, was one of those customers who was buying although she was steering away from any major purchases like the saddle she found on sale for several hundred dollars. She explained that in the past, she would have simply purchased it.

''You think twice now,'' she said. ''You just don't know what tomorrow is gonna bring.''

She did stock up on jalapeno-flavored microwave popcorn and a few other items for around the house.

Leslie Summers, of Algona, makes painted yard ornaments he sells at the sale. His designs range from a shark chasing a swimmer to small pink pigs that got into the mud.

''The dirty pigs are my number one seller,'' he said.

Optimistic as he showed off a book full of custom orders taken at the show, the economy seems to have had no negative effect on his business.

''Are you kidding,'' he said. ''Business is still good.''

If you are looking for bargains, want to do some haggling or just absolutely have to have a 10-inch-tall Holstein cow model with real fur, the Hillbilly Sale and Flea Market continues today at the Webster County Fairgrounds from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is $1 per person.

Or, in 1945 money, 9 cents ... and that's a bargain.

Contact Hans Madsen at (515) 573-2141 or



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