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Rose Bowl Flea Market

December 06, 2007|Enid Portuguez

Every second Sunday of the month, bargain hunters and antiques collectors gather in Pasadena for the mother of all flea markets. With more than 2,500 vendors, it's easy to get lost in the sea of vintage lamps and Levis, so first-timers may want to find a seasoned shopper to show you around (in my case: thanks, Geoff Clark!). Heading there this weekend? Set a budget, wear comfortable shoes and get there early -- you'll pay a higher entrance fee ($20 between 5 and 7 a.m. versus $8 after 9 a.m.; fee includes a map of the stalls), but you'll also get first dibs on the best stuff.

For Midcentury Modern furniture, head to the Orange area, one of the Bowl's 11 sections (southwest of the front entrance). There you'll find Jes Pedersen (booth HH96-97), a native of Denmark who treks back home for his pieces, which can range from a $75 armchair to an $850 teak cabinet. Interior designers and retailers flock to the Williams & Son booth (HH72-74) for its selection of mod love seats and custom-made metal and ceramic sculptures ($175-$600 -- a mirror is pictured above). For inspiration, visit Josh and Laurie Zimber at ocmodern, whose cozy booth (S-9) looks more mini-showroom than flea-market post.

Antique furniture can be found scattered throughout, but the pieces in Dan and Debbie Smith's booth (G1) exude an old-world charm without looking too old-fashioned. The brother-and-sister team refurbishes 1930s Waterfall-style vanity and dresser sets ($300 to $400) that, when paired with Art Deco jewelry cases ($12), would make romantics swoon. Shabby-chic fans can take delight in the vintage European linens at Daniela Davis' booth (T-17). She also customizes pillows using vintage Scandinavian curtains ($69 to $129).

Home furnishings





Even in the most prolific of flea markets, discovering valuable art is like plucking a needle out of a haystack. Most artwork hovers around watercolor paintings found in someone's attic, but there are a few gems. Draped across Mark Lang's booth (GG-19) are vintage European advertising posters dating from the early 20th century to the 1960s. An avid ad collector for 20 years, Lang insists they're all originals and prices them according to size ($200-$1,200).


The more organized booths belong to those selling vintage lithographs. Richard Van Genderen (T-11, pictured below) neatly arranges his extensive collection by subject matter: maps, horses, pinups, even mushrooms. Wrapped in plastic, some date to the 1800s, but none is too expensive ($5-$60). Leonard Lightfoot (Z-1) dedicates a tidy table to well-preserved sketches, black-and-white photographs of strangers, old telegrams and awards. A "Perfect Attendance" certificate still somehow makes one proud, even if the name on it isn't yours.



Vintage-clothing lovers will want to cross the short bridge to the White area, where stacks of old military gear, vintage denim and T-shirts await. Dozens of vendors specialize in women's apparel, but Anabel Soto's booths (3057-3058, 3437) combine quality with decent pricing. Dresses often overpriced at trendy thrift stores are $10 to $15, and faux and real fur coats range from $20 to $40. Dig for matching accessories among Jake Wu's piles of handbags and shoes (3109-3110). Boots are priced at $20; all bags, sandals and pumps cost $10.


One of the larger jewelry collections at the Bowl can be found in the Orange area. The woman who runs the booth is press-shy, but frankly, it's hard to miss. Look for hanging necklaces and glass cases housing jewelry arranged by color. A few feet away is Joan Bambora's booth (U-7), which is smaller yet filled with designer-signed brooches, Bakelite bracelets and antique watch fobs. A 1950s Hobe brooch (pictured above) was going for $70, but a little bargaining could probably get the price down.

If you've still got a few bucks, refuel at the taco truck near the Rose Bowl entrance, which serves up one of the best breakfast burritos in town.


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