This week marks the first anniversary of our living in Florida and I have been wanting to go to Renninger’s Flea Market and Antique mall the entire year. I have followed their page on Facebook so I could see what was happening there in anticipation of a visit.
Last Saturday was the day.
Renninger’s Flea Market and Antique Mall is located in Mount Dora, Florida and is a good hour and a half drive from our home. Add in the seven yard sale stops, two bathroom breaks, one gasoline/ATM refuel, and oh a one thrift stop u-turn and it took us almost three hours to get to our destination.
We visited this Flea Market on a cloudy day at the end of August. Our GPS easily led us directly to the location and huge billboards guided us in from the main entrance. This is historically the off season for outdoor flea markets since we are so far south and it is so darn hot, but even considering we arrived at the market close to noon parking was a cinch. We secured a spot directly next to an entrance to the indoor market as well as the outdoor field vendors.
There were very few field vendors this time of year. We ventured into one incredibly overpriced outdoor stall and ventured out just as quickly once we heard the first quoted price. $50 for a bottle of Chanel No. 5. No thanks. The next two stalls had no vendors to ask prices of, so we ventured towards a bright setup just across one of the dirt paths.
Halfway across the dirt road, my foot brushed something soft, but I kept walking. I was determined to keep up with my husband. We are a bit competitive like that.
As my husband made friends with the latest vendor I looked down and saw a few ants on my right foot. One had worked under my sandal so I could only feel that one. Then the pain hit. No matter how I shook, those ants had their teeth embedded deep. As I was cursing and howling, the nice vendor came to the rescue. Armed with a spray bottle of what I found out later to be vinegar, she proceeded to douse me from the knees down with her spray. The ants fell away and I had a savior. I stunk a bit, and my foot hurt, but I made sure to purchase something from her.
Having enough of the outside vending area, we ventured indoors.
The covered vendor area at Renninger’s are half indoor with air conditioning and half outdoor, but under enormous metal roofed pavilions. There a a ton of vendors even in the off season. Unlike other flea markets in this off season, there were not many empty or closed booths. We estimate that close to 75% of the space was occupied and open for business. Much better than the 40% we are seeing at other flea markets.
Almost as soon as we ventured into the covered area, it started to rain. If you have never experienced thunderstorms under a tin roof, then you have never truly experienced a thunderstorm. It is very loud. Despite the extreme humidity, fans hung from the rafters down every main aisle spraying cool mist and breeze onto the crowd below. This is truly a market who has listened to the demands of its customers.
While other markets have been inundated with a considerable amount of “merchandise made in China”, it was not so at Renninger’s. We saw roughly 60% of good quality merchandise. About 30% was made in China. The other 10% is what my in-laws refer to as pig-sh*t.
My husband is always looking for a good watch and a good belt buckle. He found both in large quantities here.
I always search for beads, jewelry, costume jewelry or anything that can be re-purposed in making jewelry. I lucked out as well.
I came away with this pile of goodies including wooden bead necklaces, small blue stone beads, a sand dollar pendant, a turquoise bracelet, and fish. I will find a purpose for those fish. Fear not, they won’t grace jewelry, but they will end up somewhere in the house.
My favorite purchase of the day was this mouth-watering, marked, genuine turquoise and silver necklace measuring 36 inches.
Prices were incredibly fair once we got into the covered vendor areas. We found the vendors to be receptive to haggling, willing to work deals, and willing to point out other vendors who may help us find items we wanted.
Food options were pretty good. There were quite a few produce vendors, lots of places to get a hot dog or hot or cold sandwich and drink options were plentiful. This is the first flea market we seen where you can buy beer on the tap and then walk off into the crowd.
When we neared the end of the the market and were waiting for the thunderstorms to finally pass, I found a tiny vendor selling Greek food. What a charming couple. Married 47 years, she still made stuffed tomatoes every day. We left with enough food for dinner – Moussaka with eggplant, dolmades, and kalamata olives.
Overall our experience was a very positive one and we plan to return soon. We hope to visit when the outside vendor area is full of people just coming for the weekend instead of full-time vendors with the same ware every week. And personally – I plan to wear some ant-proof running shoes next time, carry a spray bottle of vinegar and watch where I walk.