MANSFIELD — More than 2,000 people flocked to the Richland County Antique Show and Flea Market over the weekend, looking for anything that caught their eyes.
“We just look for things that jump out at us,” said Marla Beal, of Medina. “Things that are unusual.”
Beal and her husband were in town visiting Beal’s mother when she heard about the flea market. A fan of Gorton’s merchandise, Beal said she’s always hoping to add to her collection.
Sunday, she found what she was looking for: A two-foot Gorton fisherman statue, complete with yellow rain jacket and fishing line.
“He’s going to sit in my garden,” Beal said. “It’s all nautical themed.”
While Beal had luck finding what she was looking for, vendor Ron Ferguson said most people don’t come looking for anything specific. They just want to be surprised.
“Most people don’t even know what they’re shopping for until it jumps out and catches their eye,” Ferguson said. Ferguson and his wife, Sharon, have been vendors at the flea market for more than eight years.
Ferguson, 71, started buying goods at auctions and flea markets 40 years ago. Now, rather than buying stuff to sell, Ron said his merchandise typically comes straight from his barn collection.
“A lot of stuff we bought for ourselves but didn’t use as much as we thought we would,” Ron said. “It’s hard to part with some of it, but we don’t need it all now.”
The Fergusons have enough in their collection to fill a trailer, truck bed and a minivan, taking almost nine hours to set up. Between the 10 shows they attend at the fair during the February through November market season, the couple spends 90 hours a year just setting up half a lifetime of collecting.
“We’ve been coming every month for eight or more years and we do some local farm shows, too,” Ferguson said. “We’ve got a lot of stuff.”
Kelly Zakrajsek and her sister, Kim Crawford, are newcomers to the market this year. While their collection is not nearly as extensive as Ferguson’s, they’ve got their own niche.
Zakrajsek and Crawford sell only recycled materials — pens made from plastic bottles, jean-pocket fridge magnets, Oreo cookie pencil pouches, Capri Sun purses, decorative bottles and newspaper gift bags, among others.
Zakrajsek, 42, said she’s been repurposing recyclables since she was 10.
“At home we try to recycle everything, and it cut our trash in half,” Zakrajsek said. “Anything I can repurpose or save from the trash, I try to find a use for.”
Zakrajsek started the project in her classroom at Shelby Middle School, making pencil pouches for her students to use and later creating a Green Team that learned how to make recyclable crafts in their own homes.
“The whole point is to get people to continue to recycle,” Zakrajsek said.
Ferguson and Zakrajsek were just two of the 100-plus people with displays at the market. Other merchandise ranged from trinkets to electronics to apparel.
Kevin Spore and his brother-in-law, Tim Babcock, took over organizing the show 10 years ago. They said vendors always have something new to bring to the table.
“There’s a little bit of everything here,” Spore said. “It’s very unlikely that you’ll find vendors with the same things here.”
Spore and Babcock stepped in to take over the monthly flea market in 2001. The two had been frequent vendors at the show since 1992, selling toy collectibles and trinkets for children.
Spore said he got into the flea market business just as a way to make extra money in preparation for a college fund for his children, but soon came to really enjoy collecting.
“It’s like a second job, but fun,” Spore said. “It’s treasure hunting.”