Everything’s bigger in Texas! This is certainly true when it comes to First Monday Trade Days at Canton Flea Market. The monthly four days event is truly more than just a flea market – it is the oldest and largest free flea market in the United States that hosts up to 300,000 visitors admiring the wide variety of wares from over 6,000 vendors located over hundreds of acres.
For 317 days a year, the tiny town of Canton in East Texas is a sleepy country crossroads, anchored by a stately limestone courthouse and historic square. But on four days a month, Canton turns with The First Monday Trade Days into an enormous flea market that features 28 miles of paths and aisles to wander. It is an post-apocalyptic world of garage sales or, in other words, a flea market just gone mad! If you put together every flea market you have ever visited — Canton Flea Market is likely to still be bigger!
What has started back in 1873 as a small location to trade horses, livestock, dogs, tools and farm equipment has become home to some of the most exciting, cutting-edge home furnishings, antiques and collectibles that can be found anywhere.
Trying to catalog the immensity of oddities is simply impossible. As one stall owner puts it, “if you can’t find it in Canton, it ain’t been made yet.” Particularly coveted are the housewares, furniture and artisanal goods — but nothing compares to the actual Canton Flea Market experience. To visit Canton is to enter an old-world Americana marketplace, filled with friendly conversations, honest recommendations, word-of-mouth advertising and secret family recipes.
For each market event a special guide is printed and you would be well-advised to buy it; this flea market can daunt even the hardest shoppers. As a rule, new or infrequent vendors are usually in the unreserved rows of garage-sale booths. In the shady West Gate area open air booths feature vintage clothes, architectural salvage and retro housewares. More established antiques merchants typically have bigger stalls along pedestrian paths.
Contemporary items like clothes, jewelry and artworks can often be found in one of the 11 pavilions or breezy atriums and the dealers of the Civic center in the middle of the grounds offer fine silver, rare first editions, fine antiques and iconic vintage pieces.
Canton Flea Market is not all about antiques, though. The Atrium, a tempting food course on the market grounds, offers delicious roasted corn, sausage dogs, turkey legs and funnel cakes. And don’t forget to get your perfect pair of vintage cowboy boots since finding these is serious business here in Texas.