Sunday, April 5, 2009

Beach Boulevard Flea Market

We've been on a local food / Farmer's Market kick lately (and I hope, for the sake of the planet, these become more prevalent) but as far as I'm aware, there are no Farmer's Markets in Jacksonville's Southside. However, certain sections of the Beach Boulevard Flea Market could serve as a viable substitute.

flea market entrance

I had never even noticed the place before randomly stumbling upon it online a few months ago. Even then I was never able to register its presence whenever I drove by. Sure, I guess I'd seen the big Flea Market sign stretching towards the sky but something prevented me from understanding that the sign was indicating the Flea Market's existence at that very location and not merely advertising that somewhere in Jacksonville a flea market was in full swing. Perhaps my powers of observation aren't as sharp as I thought, or maybe the fact that the Flea Market, owned by and located next to an Atlantic Self-Storage, looks exactly like an Atlantic Self-Storage made it invisible to me.

Whatever the cause of my inability to see the place, it was the the suggestion of a coworker that made me commit to scheduling a visit one Saturday morning with the promise of finding some strange and exotic fruits.

flea market1

According to the verbiage on the web page, there are "over 800 booths selling furniture, produce, computers, electronics, bikes, lawn mowers, clothes, collectibles, antiques, games, pets & a whole lot more. Open 7 days a week."

Now, if you've ever been to a flea market before, you'll probably know what to expect from the majority of those 800 booths. We headed in through the main entrance after braving the nightmare parking situation and almost left within the span of a couple minutes. There were two produce stalls along that one corridor but neither were displaying any of the exotic wares I had been promised (and I wasn't about to ask if they were hiding any under the counter). All of the other stalls were filled with, shall we say, the standard flea market "niche" commodities. To a very specific target market, many of these items have incredible significance and monetary worth. To the rest of us, it's just a pile of trash and my mounting unease almost led me to abandon the place in a fit of agoraphobic anxiety.

flea market2

Thankfully my obsession with finding the exotic fruit compelled me to race around the perimeter of the market until I finally stumbled upon my hidden treasure. Along the Western edge is where the bulk of the fresh fruit and vegetables are being hawked. Many of the stall operators are foreign and bring both the produce of their native land and the market culture that long ago faded from the American landscape.

There is a huge selection of the standard domestic fare alongside a great variety of some strange, exotic items. Prices are quite reasonable and I was able to score a bounty of interesting items for relatively little except for my purchase of the legendary durian which set me back $13. Anybody interested in reading about these strange finds and other weird foods can wander over to Edible Oddities where I'll eventually get around to posting pictures and details of the produce I picked up during this trip.

Again, the Beach Boulevard Flea Market is open 7 days a week but I've been told that the weekends are best for the groceries. And who knows, maybe some of you out there will even be interested in the other non-edible items on offer at the hundreds of other stalls. Feel free to comment with any interesting finds and please let me know if you stumble across anyone selling time... I need to somehow get ahold of more than what I'm currently being alloted.

Beach Boulevard Flea Market
11041 Beach Blvd
Jacksonville, FL 32246
(904) 645-5961


Tara said...

Did you find the camera guy? Not positive he's still there, but he had been there a long while. He has an "indoor" space and buys/sells/trades camera equipment. I've found a couple of good deals on lenses and accessories there.

01001111 said...

No, I didn't see him there but I do admit to rushing through. I'll keep my eyes peeled the next time I'm feeling brave enough to head over that way... which should be soon because I need more strange fruit.

Epicurean Jax said...

There is now a farmer's market in the Southside area. Actually the Town Center. It's held on Fridays. Starting at 3 pm, they have a small farmers market in the lot behind Dick’s Sporting Goods. You’ll recognize some of the vendors from other farmers markets in the area (like the Riverside Arts Market). There's also the new farmers market in Mandarin--on Sundays in the parking lot at Whole Foods.

Kateri said...

Thanks Epicurean Jax.

We've actually been to the one in the town center, but weren't really all that impressed. It was the first week though, maybe it's gotten better? We'll have to check the one out at Whole Foods one Sunday.
Have you tried any new or interesting restaurants lately? We're always looking for ideas.