This post, as well as a few others like this, profiles one of the many markets in Texas. I attend markets regularly as both vendor and customer, and there’s a reason for that: they are so fun!
Today, we are talking about Warrenton. Warrenton is the mother of all Texas markets and antique shows. Fifty years running, it’s one of the biggest in the country.
Antiques Weekend is twice a year in Fayette County. All throughout Round Top, Fayetteville, Warrenton, Burton, Carmine, and all along the roads, 600 vendors set up shop in barns and tents selling antiques from all over, straight up junk, crafts, furniture, clothes, jewelry, and more.
Every show, fall and spring, 100,000 people go junkin’.
Fresh coat of nail polish, second cup of coffee, and $40 in my purse, I was off to Warrenton.
Let me tell you… this place is HUGE. It’s crazy. I went on a Saturday in September- a gorgeous day- morning lows in the sixties, high in the eighties, not a cloud in the sky. I parked for $5 in a field and hit the road, only to return two and a half hours later, and I had only seen maybe a quarter of the show.
I started at the first big barn on the right-hand side of the road. I saw piles of old tools at one place, tons and tons of signs at several places, cute suitcases and trunks that I wanted really badly, some (imported) Mexican yard art, clothes, a junk store (you could buy buttons, scrabble letters, door knobs, little clocks, and butter dishes, to name some things), and a cowhide rug place (I would have bought had I enough money), before I finally made my first purchase. There was a lady set up on the wrap around porch of a house, where many other vendors were, selling soap- Elner Austin at ElsSoap.com
I bought a small bar of “Leather and Lace” beard soap for my boyfriend and a small bar of “sweet wood” charcoal soap for my sister (she loves charcoal everything). Soap is one of those things I almost always buy at markets. For one, it takes a lot of work, and I want to support the people that do that work. Two, it smells damn good- nothing like what you’d buy at the store. Three, it’s made with natural ingredients, and four, I can’t make it myself. I could, but I don’t really have the materials or the time or the want-to to try to make it from scratch. I’ll stick with my soap kits from Hobby Lobby!
My favorite things were this front porch swings made out of the tailgates of old pick-ups.
I moved on and grabbed a quick bite to eat before getting lost in some gorgeous furniture. See, going to these places makes me want to buy a house and get married so I can buy pretty furniture and decorate it with Mr. and Mrs. pillows, and when I come to terms with the fact that that’s not happening anytime soon, it’s depressing. Alas, I continued to look at what else Warrenton had to offer. I saw funky mannequins, ornaments, white linen gowns, rusty horseshoes, tons of windows and doors that I could do so much with, old outdoor furniture, beautiful clothes, more old beer and car signs, quilts, dishes, forks and knives, black and white pictures of strangers, lamps made out of propane tanks, a metal cut out of Bigfoot, golf clubs, Army surplus, lots of bicycles and wagons, cages of all kinds, fences, Christmas trees made of pallets, coat hangers, pumpkins made from anything and everything, bird houses, and my favorite- porch swings made with the tailgates of old pick-ups. I did make a couple other purchases as well: a $5 clipboard to use for work and a small block “H.” I could have made the “H” myself, but the lady I bought it from (her business is called Vunkology) told me before that she sat down at her dining room table and made every single letter. Mind you, there were 20-30 of every letter of the alphabet and the ten single-digits. She had so many other things for sale, too, that I can’t imagine the time and effort she put into everything. I had to buy a little something something.
Plus, when you go to these shows, it’s obligatory that you buy crap. You’ve just got to. You can’t go to these things with a smart shopper mindset.
Being smart can actually hurt your fun. It did for me a little bit. I’ve always been a crafty person, and in the last few years, I’ve really gotten into doing things myself. I see things at shows that I like, but then I realize that I could make that easily. If I can’t easily make it myself, then yeah I’ll buy it if I want it enough. Otherwise, though, I’m not going to pay a bunch of money (because in this business you can charge the hell out of someone. It feels unethical, almost, so I charge low, but if I wanted to, I could sell things for three times their worth) for something I could do myself. I’ve been to several markets, too, so I can also tell what’s authentic and what was mass-produced. The Chinese have gotten real good and making fake shit look real. For example, I love Mexican yard art. I want a yard full of colorful metal animals, but there is only one lady I will buy from. She is middle-aged go-getter Mexican woman that I always see in Wimberly and Fredericksburg. She’s awesome. She is quite the sales lady, and she knows her product front, back, upside down, and sideways. She and her crew make everything in Mexico out of recycled metal, like cars. She could point to every single one of her pieces and tell you what it was made of. She showed me one (I think it was a pig or something) that still had the Mercedes-Benz logo on it. She’s the real deal. Other vendors (I asked) have them imported. That’s fine, someone had to make it, but I personally prefer that authenticity and humanity, like the Mexican lady. So yeah, just knowing how to make things and being able to tell the real from not-real takes a little bit of the fun out of it, but not totally. I came away with lots of ideas both for my business and (mostly) my future dream home!
By the way, if you do make it to Warrenton, I suggest making a trip out of it. Seriously. That part of the state is beautiful. Honestly, though, what part of our state isn’t? Anyway, nearby is La Grange, which is neat for you ZZ Top and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas fans.
There are also the Painted Churches in Praha, Dublina, and other areas. These churches were built by Czechs that immigrated to Texas in the mid-nineteenth century.
Further east of Warrenton and Round Top is Brenham, which has a super cute downtown area with more antique shops and this place called Must Be Heaven, and they have the best pies! They also have a Blue Bell factory that you can tour! A little bit further yet is College Station, if you’re an Aggie. If you go about an hour and a half west of Warrenton, you hit Austin.
I hope you feel inspired to go junkin’ now! It is truly one of life’s greatest pleasures.
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