Well, another typical day at the Super G, full of surprises. Al and I returned on Sunday only to find out that one of the vendors broke his hip and hence all the others were closing shop earlier to pay him a visit. I’m a bit despondent, even though I’m not the one with a broken hip. During our recent visits I haven’t seen our friendly jump roper, the young daughter at the Pakistani corner. She manages to salvage those remaining pieces of your childhood zeal and re-packages them with a precocious business sense. If you’re not feeling peppy when you arrive, you’ll leave feeling like a bubbly ten year old entrepreneur at heart. But you’ve got to kind of go with the flow here. That seems to be the general Super G consensus these days. Some shops come and go, but most of our new friends plan on staying put. When the economy’s bad for JC Penny and Nordstrom’s it’s even worse for the flea market. Recessions seem to have a standardizing affect on consumer purchasing, not conducive to the eclectic tastes here at the vendors’ stalls, even though the price is far more appealing and the conversations as interesting as the products themselves. Yesterday there was even a short-lived side show, a Michael Jackson dancing rendition by the mullet-haired vendor in the back. There’s no pressure to get a store credit card with the expectation that you will either refurnish your entire house or redo your entire wardrobe on a yearly basis. Here at the Super G every purchase is personalized, every purchase appreciated.

Being the hasty, naïve, but concerned advocate I am, I’ve been trying to think of solutions to bring in more business. There was talk the other day of moving the flashing neon “open” sign so it wouldn’t be blocked by the new Chinese vendor. In the span of three days she managed to move in 243,984 vases, some large enough to store full grown sunflowers or to serve as royal vats of wine, ideal for the modern fraternity keg party looking for an Asian twist. But (and don’t tell anyone I said this), what good is a flashing neon open sign when you’ve got free spring rolls and vegetarian fish sauce passed out up front in the grocery section? There’s just no competition. I think the flea would be better off substituting the “open” sign with the oversized plastic green neon beer can sold in one of the vendor’s stalls. Now that’s catchy, you’ve got to admit! My first solution was to bulldoze the back wall and create another entryway kind of like the fancy, glass walkways you’d see in an airport, maybe one of those moving sidewalks with paper durian fruits and dried squid hanging from the ceiling? True, this would obliterate the shop of the poor vendor who’s out due to injury, but isn’t business ruthless anyways? No. There’s got to be a more modest, ethical solution, maybe some corner side preaching to spread the word, kidnap shoppers at Friendly Center? Or perhaps some free pictures with the scattered mannequin heads would work. Poised on counters with their hip shades and goatees, their self-confidence is as vexing as it is beguiling, especially considering they’ve been separated from their bodies for God knows how long. On the upside, I did meet the man of my dreams, the fine toned torso of a plastic Greek God balanced on his groin stumps in our rather paltry abandoned pen. We were happy to see that the neighboring vendor who collects all sorts of paraphernalia has temporarily donated some of his collection to give our space a bit more spunk and sex appeal.

But who cares about sex appeal when business is slow. If we could only redirect all those incoming customers intent on getting their weekly produce to pay a mandated visit to the bathroom before shopping, thereby redirecting them to the equally colorful flea market at the back. I myself feel a little responsible for the slow business. I’ve become fixated with the Pakistani clothing, particularly the elf-like slippers with little puff balls on the end, the kind I used for art projects when I was little. But I’m just not sure I can pull them off. I learned by observation while traveling, that all these exotic clothes may look appealing to the adventurous western eye, but when worn out of their context can make you look like one of Santa’s little helpers or a Halloween costume gone awry.

Well then, any suggestions are appreciated, preferably before the next presidential election. For the time being “The Snack Lady” continues to bag her goodies, the easel display of Malcom X peering out of a window still hasn’t sold, and if you’re lucky, you might even get to practice your jump rope. At the Super G anything is possible and everyone seems optimistic enough…just have to wait it out, things take time. Economies come and go, but the Super flea , I hope, won’t.


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