Augusta Christmas shoppers turn to flea markets, pawn shops for bargains

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Thrift store shoppers have a reputation of being just that, thrifty.

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Customers say they find good deals at Barnyard Flea Market, which lets them stretch their holiday budget.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Customers say they find good deals at Barnyard Flea Market, which lets them stretch their holiday budget.

In the current economy, though, it is not just a certain group that shops for the best bargain.

Nowadays, more shoppers are skipping the retail stores altogether and heading to flea markets and pawnshops to do their Christmas shopping.

Barnyard Flea Market on Doug Barnard Parkway was full of shoppers Saturday, which the vendors said is normal for this time of year.

“I am not really a ‘flea market’ person,” said Janell Sherbing, of Martinez. “But a friend suggested it when we were talking about trying to afford Christmas this year, and I have to admit, I did find some great stuff.”

Jim Salmen, of North Augusta, was helping a friend sell guitars and amplifiers in Row J.

“Now, shoppers are smart,” he said. “They have to be.”

Salmen defined his customers as savvy shoppers who generally know what they want before they walk into the market. Most people have a goal so they go in, buy exactly what they are looking for and get out.

Shanae Williams, of Augusta, said she has been shopping for Christmas at flea markets for years.

“You can find things here that you can’t find anywhere else,” she said as she pointed to a sculpted dog with a sign that read “Go Away” on its chest. “And it is usually much cheaper.

“I just got a washer and dryer for my niece here for $300.”

Matt Butler, the manager of the Downtown Pawn Shop at 564 Broad St., says his business always booms during December.

“Not everyone has the money or time to head out on Black Friday. We have Black Friday all month,” he said.

Butler said he gets a lot of people who trade in older possessions to buy newer gifts, even people who trade in things bought the year before.

“This is a good month for us. We can compete with big retail stores because we have so much merchandise coming in,” he said. “Plus, people don’t have to worry about crowds here.”

Butler said he has customers from all walks of life, from construction workers to doctors to lawyers.

“Everyone is looking for a deal,” he said. “They start out at the mall, but eventually they end up here.”

Downtown Pawn Shop goes through a lot of electronics, video games and jewelry during the Christmas season, Butler said.

He, like Salmen, said his customers usually come in already knowing what they are going to buy.

“People aren’t browsing anymore,” Butler said. “They have already done the research.”

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BamaMan 12/12/11 - 04:28 pm
They have a great stall of

They have a great stall of Georgia Bulldawg Stuff. Framed prints, etc. Very good prices. I go every year.

Just My Opinion
Just My Opinion 12/12/11 - 04:30 pm
Of course, there are pitfalls

Of course, there are pitfalls in doing this, but what kid wouldn't want a slightly used X-Box player PLUS several games to play on it versus a brand spanking new X-Box player and just one or two games? The difference is not just the price, it's WHAT you can get for the same amount of money..brand new versus slightly used. But, like I said before, there is a gamble in shopping at the flea markets for electronic items.

nothin2show4it 12/12/11 - 07:48 pm
Why are you tearing down

Why are you tearing down these flea market vendors. 99% of them are hard working honest people. It is better than you would find out in the retail establishment world.

Just My Opinion
Just My Opinion 12/12/11 - 09:33 pm
0 talking to me? talking to me? I wasn't tearing them down at all. If you re-read my post, I thought I put a POSITIVE spin on why I can see someone buying a used X-Box for their kid rather than a brand new one. The point being that a person can get MORE for the money by changing their attitude and shopping at a flea market. BUT, it IS true that with electronic equipment, you do take a gamble on how well the thing will work when you get it home. Is the guy at the flea market going to give you a refund or a warranty of some type like you'd get at Best Buy or Wal-Mart??

david jennings
david jennings 12/15/11 - 09:32 am
The thing that solves my

The thing that solves my Christmas shopping problem for me is no problem, just think about January 2012.

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