A day on the square in CantonPublished 11:41am Thursday, October 17, 2013
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Today, like all second Thursdays of the past six Octobers, I am in sitting underneath a tent on Canton’s Historic Square, primed to participate in flea market capitalism. And I’m hungry, because breakfast came pretty early, as in before daylight.
4:30 a.m. – We pile into a vehicle piled high with our handiwork and hopes for success. My daughter, the birthday girl, is dozing. I know this because she makes no effort to change my news-only station.
5:45 a.m. – An officer directs me, and a contortion of others pulling trailers and such, into an unloading lane. He is unsmiling and, I’m sure, not paid nearly enough. Shoppers are already at it with flashlights.
6:30 a.m. – Coordinator Dawn Lampkin says there are 1,150 vendors this year, some from as far away as Los Angeles. What is the likelihood friends would be nearby, peddling salsa labeled “fair to midlin’” and “purdy hot”?
7 a.m. – Our first sale comes from a decisive type, one wearing a fanny pack and wagging a collapsible cart. She pulls out a wad of money, dents my change stash good and wheels away.
7:30 a.m. – Foot traffic is thickening. Sidewalks are getting clogged with people hauling their spoils – yard art, wreaths, frames made from old doors.
8 a.m. – The PA system crackles across the courthouse lawn, requesting a pause for the national anthem. Patriotism stills a long line waiting for Mickle’s Pickles, who, one year as I recall, completely sold out (6,000 jars) by noon.
8:40 a.m. – The smells are in full swing – just-fried funnel cake coming from the street below and orange spice potpourri sold north of the gazebo. Around the corner there’s leather, where a man in Wranglers is busy stamping a belt for someone named Buck.
9:10 a.m. – We learn I-55 is backed up from the Canton exit to the Nissan plant, but shoppers like the mother/daughters trio I just sold to bypassed all that, choosing to sleep here in their car last night. I am told, in an unmistakable New Orleans accent, that’s much easier than waking at 2 a.m. to make the drive.
10:15 a.m. – After careful observation, I am convinced that males here generally fall into one of three categories: boyfriends, who come willingly; husbands, who come for chicken-on-a-stick; and babies, who come strapped in strollers.
11:30 a.m. – My daughter seems intent on stimulating the economy through glittered hair elastic purchases.
1:45 p.m. – Two ladies, looking just as Mississippian as me, handled our wares and discussed them in French. Four semesters in college, and I still don’t know what they thought. Merci beaucoup.
3 p.m. – The afternoon lull has set in. Chartered buses are pulling out. The ATMs need refilling.
4:15 p.m. – From the “Funky Zebra” booth I learn that an item that sold out in 15 minutes last year hasn’t moved today. The good news is last-minute deal-makers have been spotted.
4:30 p.m. – We just saw what overdosed shopaholics wear: T-shirts that say “Canton Made Me Do It.”
5:00 p.m. – Oh, the joys of packing up. Once again, I realize it’s been more about the people than their purchases. Happens every time.
Wesson resident Kim Henderson is a freelance writer who writes for The Daily Leader. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.