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July 12, 2014

Treasure-hunters forced in doors

Rain pushes yard-sale-goers into southside flea market to search for wares

PIMENTO — Rain on a Saturday morning can be a big bummer for yard sales.

But it turned out to be a boon for an indoor flea market. In a positive/negative sort of way.

Hidden Treasure Exchange — an antique, collectible and variety shop in the Boot City Plaza about eight miles south of Terre Haute — had planned an outdoor yard sale opportunity for vendors. That got washed out by the rain. Negative.

But on the positive side, it drove yard sale customers indoors, and quite a few of them ended up shopping at the 40-plus vendor booths set up inside Hidden Treasure Exchange on U.S. 41.

“We were out this morning. We do a lot of yard sale-ing, and so we changed plans and started hitting the shops,” said customer Jennifer Ping of Newport. She and her 5-year-old son Tucker, and her mother Rita Self, were on their way to Sullivan when they saw the sale sign for Hidden Treasure Exchange and decided to stop in for the first time.

Owner Nancy Woodard said that the indoor flea market has been getting new customers each day since she opened last October. The shop is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Saturday, and from 1 to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

She also gets new vendors on a regular basis. For $50 per month, plus 10 percent commission on sales, Woodard rents booth space and then will handle the sales of the items so that the vendor does not have to be present.

“It is month-to-month rental,” she said, “so there may be someone who wants to get ride of some stuff for just a while. Maybe they are cleaning out a parent’s house or an estate, or they are moving or downsizing.”

Many of the items inside the large shop are collectibles such as glassware, furniture, lamps, wall hangings and pictures, old games or toys. Cabinets, dressers, chairs and other furniture are also abundant, as are hand-painted items and antique tools.

“Five rocking chairs sold this week,” Woodard said. “They had been here for a long time and not sold, so you just never know what will sell when. We sell a lot of canning jars and fruit jars. People buy them to use for candles and crafts. We also sell a lot of signs with sayings, and furniture sells well, too.”

While there were a few vintage wedding gowns and some stylist jackets and vests available, Woodard said that no clothing sales are allowed except for on the yard sale Saturdays outdoors. Those occur on the second and fourth Saturdays each month, with set-up starting at 7 a.m. and the sales running from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Each booth is $10, and the vendor is responsible for manning that location.

A yard sale is how Woodard got into the flea market business. When her husband Danny had an auction for his parents’ estate, Nancy and Danny were left with one room of items that they decided to dispose of in a yard sale.

Nancy learned from the auction, however, that things she regarded as “junk”, such as the Old Sleepy Eye stein that her mother-in-law had used as a pencil-holder for years, could be worth a lot of money. The stein sold for $450 at auction.

In their professional lives, the Woodards had been teachers in Sullivan County. As second careers, they took on the flea market venture.

The reasons people set up booths inside are many. Some people have had to move from a four bedroom house and downsize to an apartment. Others are vendors who have booths in multiple towns or states.

Each vendor is responsible for tagging and pricing their own items for sale. Woodard and her staff keep track of the sales on computer and on paper. They collect and pay the sales tax. So for the vendor, having a booth does not have to be a large time commitment.

However, some of the vendors do spend time at the flea market, and Woodard said some of them have become close like family.

“We all just met here, but we’re kind of a big extended family,” she said. “We all just met through this business. We didn’t know each other two years ago. That’s been the best part of the business, the people.”

When new merchandise or a sale or a new vendor sets up at the shop, Woodward said, she posts that notice on the business’s Facebook page. Actually, there are about eight Facebook pages that post updates for Hidden Treasure Exchange, she said.

Anyone interested in setting up an indoor booth or participating in the second and fourth Saturday yard sale can contact Woodard at 812-361-7082.

Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or lisa.trigg@tribstar.com. Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.

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