U Street Flea Market

You know that moment in basically every 1980’s Brat Pack film when someone uncool walks into a party and the music comes suddenly screeching to a halt?

Well, I had never truly appreciated the reality of that moment until my recent foray into bargain hunting at the U Street Flea Market, located on the corner of 9th and U St NW (next door to Nellie’s Sports Bar, reviewed in an earlier post).

From the moment I wandered into the flea market’s chained-linked threshold, it became apparent that I was considered an outsider and perhaps even somewhat of a suspicious entity. Rounds of whispers and stares followed me on my march from kiosk to kiosk. But I wasn’t there to be deterred by the impressive collection of neon cell phone covers. I was there, quite simply, to meet the “Bling King.”

Image of the flea market captured by afreshcoat.wordpress.com.

I had been promising myself for the last few months that I would make it to the flea market soon. Living so close by to U Street, it seemed strange that I haven’t already. Especially since there’s little I love more than a good garage sale on steroids.

So when I happened to walk by the market during one recent Saturday, I knew that my date with the flea market had finally arrived. And a fixture of this particular market is a proudly hand-crafted sign advertising a booth by the Bling King.

The market carries a vast array of cheap electronics of questionable legal origin. Still, a deal is a deal–as long as you don’t let any pesky sense of morality cloud your judgement. There were even some hidden pop culture gems up for sale at the market that had been previously unseen since the early 1990’s (like an original Macaulay Culkin Talkboy tape-recorder from Home Alone 2: Lost in New York I found just sitting on a shelf).

Beyond the electronics the flea market offers some very interesting, and often beautiful, real and faux African pieces. There was an assortment of sculptures, bowls, and wall prints to choose from there. And there were cell phone covers…lots of cell phone covers.

So when I finally made it to the Bling King’s booth, I initially felt disappointed. Upon hearing the name, I had mentally conjured up a kiosk filled with tacky yellow chains featuring giant, rhinestone dollar signs. Instead I found a booth with the normal, cheap jewelery one would find at an Icing or a Claire’s and covet as a preteen.

But just then the Bling King himself walked up. He did not wear a crown, nor a large jewel-encrusted symbol. In fact, I’m happy to report that for a sovereign ruler, he was very down to earth. He even offered to take me to Albania with him to meet his mother (presumably the Queen Mother Bling).

Looking around at the cheap yin-yang necklaces and nostalgic toys surrounding me, I suddenly realized that the Flea Market on U street isn’t just a place for haggling over used items–it’s like the wardrobe to a (somewhat-illegal) Narnia of the past. Search hard enough, and there’s no telling what you would find. And for that reason alone, I’m glad I made the trip.

– An Alive to Tell About It Lindsay

About Lindsay Golder

Freelance writer, book-fiend, lover of shamefully bad films regularly featured on TBS or TNT.

2 Responses to “U Street Flea Market”

  1. This is a great website! How long have you been blogging?

    • Thank you! Natalie and I started this blog together in June 2011. Previously I had only ever guest blogged for another comedy site, but Natalie had several years blogging experience.

      – Lindsay

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