In Search of a New Duffel


About once a year when the kids were young, we encouraged them to go through their old toys and clothes and box them all up. We'd head off to the Mile High Flea Market, secure an 8' x10' spot, lay out our tarps and display all of our treasures for sale. As soon as they'd made a few sales, the kids would disappear and return with all the new treasures they'd found. Who can forget Brad's life-sized stuffed black panther or Brennan's coconut head collection? As we headed for the Broad Acres Flea Market (Your one stop for shopping and entertainment) in North Las Vegas, we couldn't help reminiscing a little bit about the “old” days.

The parking lot was crowded early on a Saturday morning. Some folks go to the flea market to browse Not us … we had a mission. We needed to find a sturdy duffel (read that: a large duffel able to withstand over-stuffing and rough handling on three connecting flights) for our return trip to Australia. Yes, we do plan to return to Australia in the near future and this is proof of our intent. Prices we had seen on duffels seems extraordinarily high though the last time we bought one at Wal-Mart for cheap ($20), it was flimsy and unwieldy and didn't even make it through the whole trip (thank goodness for duct tape). We were hoping to find a sturdier used one in good condition for cheap. Our parsimonious natures always kick in when it comes to spending money for lugging stuff back to the boat.


buying tickets


It was hot … 105F (40.5C) as we purchased our $1.50 entry tickets and headed through the Broad Acres gates. They touted “over 1,100 vendors”, but there was no where near that number this morning. We only needed one used duffel, however, and surely within this flea market universe there had to be one vendor willing to part with a slightly used one for under $10! We were counting on it.

We skirted around the perimeter in the full sun and walked full circle checking the outside booths. We had no hats, water or sunscreen … big mistake. What were we thinking? We know better. We quickened our pace to avoid melting into the asphalt pavement and retreated to the inside aisles seeking shelter from the sun where we could and ferreting out booths with luggage as we cruised by. We saw hula hoops, lots of Jesus statues, used tools, an alley of appliances, lawn mowers and knock-your-socks-off amplifiers, a whole booth of brassieres, and one of cowboy boots, miscellaneous mops, coconuts and a myriad of other interesting offerings. No duffels.


flea market


After traipsing up and down endless aisles (with much complaining on the part of the first mate), we spotted one. An Hispanic fellow about our age had a disparate grouping of used household stuff, old cell phones, a laptop and other miscellany laid out carefully on a blue tarp. There, propped up at the far end of his booth was a sturdy-looking duffel. I checked the heavy duty zippers … they all worked. I checked the tote handle and wheels … all sturdy and in working order. No holes or wear spots. I turned the hard part over to David, chief relentless negotiator.

“How much for the duffel?” David queried.

“$12”, the vendor smiled.

“How about $5?”, David smiled back.

“No, Senor. $10.” Still smiling.

“Would you take $7?” David retorted while I started towards another booth.

“I will take $8.” One more unconvincing smile crept onto his face.

David paid the man and walked away dragging our duffel behind him.


new duffel


Mission accomplished. Now all we have to do is pack it.

By the way, lest you leave without a bit of trivia, there's quite a bit of conjecture as to the etymology of the term “flea market”. The theory I like best was published in the 1998 winter edition of Today's Flea Market (yes, Virginia, there is such a magazine). Albert LaFarge, in his article “What is a Flea Market?” wrote "There is a general agreement that the term "Flea Market" is a literal translation of the French “marche aux puces”, an outdoor bazaar in Paris, France, named after those pesky little parasites of the order Siphonaptera (or "wingless bloodsucker") that infested [old clothing and] the upholstery of old furniture brought out for sale."