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VALLEY WEEKEND | BARGAINS

Marketplace Trades on Its Enhanced Image

The large, clean facility and high quality of unique merchandise brings new stature to the swap meet concept.

September 26, 1996|GERI COOK | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Several years ago there was a proliferation of flea markets or swap meets, and they seemed like a good bet for a while. But somewhere along the way, they alienated many shoppers, probably because the atmosphere was tacky, the facilities dirty, and the merchandise seemed like a jungle of T-shirts and junk jewelry.

Now a new flea market has come along that helps restore the image of the swap meet. The Marketplace, which opened in July, is so full of merchandise that it is already planning an expansion.

This is one swap meet that should last. There are many dealers selling quality goods at bargain prices, and the entire facility is immaculate. Sure, some of the booths offer low-quality items, but they are in the minority.

This type of operation attracts dealers who are selling a unique product, and talented people who create merchandise that isn't available anywhere else.

For instance, Kids Etc. offers just about everything needed for making a child's party a success.

Allstar Airbrush Design will personalize a garment using stitchery. This can be done on a T-shirt or hat purchased here, or they will do work on items brought to them. A price of $10 gets you a T-shirt with two names on it. Stitch 'n' Stuff does custom embroidery (computerized) at $1 per letter.

This would be a good time to visit the Harris Stationers booth, where you can get 25% off personalized Christmas cards and where standard greeting cards are 50% off the retail price.

If you enjoy aromatherapy, Bill and Jacki Abbott's garden-like booth, J-Aroma, will hold your interest. You'll find a collection of sensory potpourris and essential oils. Their Lamp Ring Diffuser sends fragrant oils wafting into the atmosphere at a price of $15.

The Spec Shoppe had some terrific buys in designer sunglasses with an Armani design that retails for $189 tagged at $119. The merchandise at Fertile Ground is unusual and well-priced. Some great looking fountains for either inside or out range from $85 to $125. Next door you'll find an entire booth devoted to jigsaw puzzles, which should give you an idea how specialized some of these dealers are.

One booth sells handmade musical pillows for $19.99, and nearby, Hansen Cakes offers a tasty sample and a display of its various designs for special occasions.

Luggage at much less than retail is the merchandise offered by Mr. Kelly. We found a handsome set (three pieces) of khaki-colored roll-on luggage for $159.95. Retail on the set is about $250.

At DJ's Fine Jewelry, some very handsome gold jewelry seems to be priced well below the standard. A pair of gold hoop earrings that I recently priced elsewhere at $75 were $54.

At Custom Bath & Body Products, we loved the 5-ounce bubble bath for $4 and the soap-by-the-inch idea in various fragrances.

Every shopper here will find a booth that appeals to his or her tastes, and surely everyone will appreciate the squeaky-clean and colorful Food Court, where I enjoyed a splendid taco, a latte and possibly the best macaroon ever.

The Marketplace, 20914 Nordhoff St., Chatsworth 91311. (818) 709-5454. Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday, Saturday, Sunday; cash or checks accepted.

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WEEKEND SUPER SALE: The folks at Athena International, a Westside wholesaler of imported gift ware, are clearing out their shelves and the prices are dazzling. Discounts are 35% to 50% below wholesale on some stunning perfume bottles, oil candles, paperweights, French tapestry purses, museum reproduction jewelry and silver-plated accessories. Athena International, 606A Venice Blvd., Venice. (310) 578-7312. Hours: 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.

While you're on the Westside, the sale at Absolutely Fabulous Finds offers 10% to 30% off already low prices. The store is filled with gently used collectibles. 1850 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West Los Angeles. (310) 478-1626.

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