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Arts & Culture

A Flea Market Documentary

A flea market scene.
Courtesy of WQED Pittsburgh
A flea market scene.

Airs Sunday, July 8, 2012 at 1 p.m. on KPBS TV

"A Flea Market Documentary" is an unabashed celebration of the unusual people and the enticing things that can be found in parking lots, fairgrounds, drive-ins, sidewalks, and wherever else someone has posted a sign saying "Flea Market."

It's capitalism mixed with craziness. It's amazing old stuff, great salespeople, the ancient tradition of the open-air market, and the possibility of finding a bargain, all uniting shoppers across the nation.

Produced by Rick Sebak for WQED Pittsburgh, "A Flea Market Documentary" travels from the gigantic Rose Bowl Market in Pasadena, California, to the busy but modest- sized Eastern Market in Washington, D.C., talking with organizers, vendors, food merchants and shoppers.

"We wanted to celebrate the people and the places and show how all of us can appreciate the desire to find a bargain, to make a buck, or simply to walk and talk among old lunch boxes, spinning wheels and outrageously expensive cookie jars," said producer Rick Sebak, whose other work for PBS includes "A Hot Dog Program," "Great Old Amusement Parks," "Shore Things" and "An Ice Cream Show."

"At a time when shopping has become standardized and predictable at franchised stores across the country, the local flea market has taken on new importance. It's a temporary shopping center, an opportunity to find a one-of-a-kind item, to haggle with vendors who often know something about their wares, and to participate in a social gathering, all at the same time."

In an increasingly diverse America, visiting our local flea market may be one of the best ways to find out what's happening and what's important, as well as what's for sale. Brian Bumb, president of the San Jose Flea Market, said, "When you talk about immigrants that come here, the Asians or the Mexicans, the flea market stays within their 'comfort zone' because it's very similar to the markets that they have in their countries. It's open-air and it gives them a feeling of home."

Rick Sebak is on Facebook, and check out Rick's blog.

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This program, from filmmaker Rick Sebak, is an unabashed celebration of the unusual people and the enticing things that can be found in parking lots, fairgrounds, drive-ins, sidewalks and wherever else someone has posted a sign saying "Flea Market." It's capitalism mixed with craziness. It's amazing old stuff, great salespeople, the ancient tradition of the open-air market and the possibility of finding a bargain, uniting shoppers across the nation.

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