Let’s face it, everybody’s broke. You might not be indulging in evenings of microwave lasagne and Sainsbury’s basics vodka yet, but either way, I bet you haven’t got as much money as you used to. But, hey, it’s OK. Who needs to go to Ikea to get a replacement for the little scratched up kitchen table that finally broke in half after your last house party – you can get another one for no money from a flea market. Deptford has had a bit of a renaissance recently. It used to be a notorious South East London suburb taken over by a 1960s influx of Jamaican Yardies who used the area to set up a base for some serious organised crime. But since gentrification has cleaned it out with it’s silver spoon and with it’s proximity to Goldsmiths art college, Deptford has gained more kudos, more money and the market has swelled with broke people looking for some cheap stuff… including me.
The main market is basically a strip of stalls offloading fruit, veg and dodgy electronics, oh, and meat. The syrupy whiff of raw flesh is everywhere. But as I turned into Douglas Way I hit the flea market. It was pretty obvious where I was because the sea of random junk sprawled out on top of what’s usually a car park looked like industrialisation had vomited across this pocket of inner city London. It was amazing. I’d been given a print and wanted to get a big frame for it, preferably something ornate and tasteless, but I soon got distracted. Deptford flea market is like a pick’n’mix of stuff I definitely didn’t need but wanted as soon as I saw it.
One of the first things I saw was a 60s transistor radio. The stall belonged to a big Rastafarian guy called Reg. He was looking pretty pleased with himself so I asked him how he was doing. He told it had been good for months. People were travelling in specially from all over London and the recession hadn’t affected him at all. In fact, he’d found himself with more money since it kicked in. Then he pulled a wad out of his pocket. “You see?” He said, “what recession?” and boomed out a huge laugh. “You want that radio then?”. I told him the speaker didn’t work properly and offered him £2. He said OK. After I’d paid him he told me it was only £1 in the first place. That’s the thing about a flea market, everything costs £1.
One guy had a bunch of old tape recorders and a pile of cassettes. They were all Rick Astley, Salt n’ Pepa and Now… albums. Nothing after 1987. So I had to buy a few. I nearly got the 80s boombox he had, it looked pretty great but it had started raining and it was doused with water. As the rain started spitting down the bomber jackets started to scrape with movement and the place began to clear out. As I left I noticed a shop mobility scooter for sale. When I heard you could get anything, I wasn’t being lied to. As I looked at it I wondered if it belonged to the guy I saw slumped outside the Deptford Arms on my way here.
I didn’t get a frame in the end, but I did leave with a lamp, some awesome 80s cassettes and that transistor radio… and my star buy! Total spent – £6. Amazing.
Deptford Flea Market Star Buy!
1970s Binatone Games Console. It probably doesn’t work, but it looks good.
So the next time you’re rummaging around those vintage shops in Islington or Shoreditch who charge £20 for a moth eaten apres-ski jumper, get your ass to Deptford. You might not get that jumper you want, but you will end up with some awesome tat that’ll look kick-ass on your mantlepiece.