Call me a bit jaded.
One of my earliest childhood memories was weekend trips to “the” Denio’s Farmers Market & Auction in Roseville.
Mom would go on Saturdays in search of produce and we’d browse the swap meet or flea market of Denio’s as well as endless vendors. More than a few concerns over the years such as Jim Boy’s Tacos got their start at Denio’s and then expanded into traditional brick and mortar locations.
Back then it was easiest the largest “flea market” of its kind in Northern California. It still is leaving gargantuan contenders such as the San Jose flea market in the dust.
That said Denio’s has lost its charm. There has always been parking fees as long as I can remember (it is $4 now) but if you opt to park somewhere on the street assuming you can find a space within a mile and then hoof it in it’ll cost you $2 if you are 12 and older. If you park in their lots admission is free.
I get they provide live musical entertainment on stage every Saturday. But get real. You’re paying $2 a person to shop for produce, browse through other people’s discards, shop at retail businesses sans bricks and mortar, and buy flea market style food. You get to do all this while pounding pavement.
Cheap thrills it’s not.
Fortunately the 209 has plenty of flea markets that haven’t morphed into the Disneyland of swap meets or gotten too big for their breeches. Where it will cost a family of four with kids over 12 a minimum of $4 if they park in a Denio’s lot or $8 if they arrive on foot just to get in, none of the 209 flea markets charge admission or charge for parking.
The biggest in the Northern San Joaquin Valley is the Galt Flea Market. On Tuesdays they feature wholesalers and retailers from across the state as well as produce, food vendors, and a smattering of garbage sale-style spaces. Wednesday’s market emphasis is more heavily orientated to produce and garage sale offerings. Wednesday is also the day more “antiques” are a bit more prevalent.
The hours both days are 7 a.m., to 2 p.m. It’s each to reach. You head north on Highway 99, take the C Street or Central Galt exit, go left over the bridge, turn left at the first stop sign and then left at the next stop sign and you are there.
That said my favorite is the Market at Delta College. It takes place every Saturday and Sunday in the southwest campus parking lot off of Pershing Avenue from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Vendor space is $20 a stall, there is no admission and there is no parking charge. There is also free carry out to your vehicle if needed.
The flea market is operated by the Delta College Foundation for the expressed purpose of providing scholarships for Delta College students.
Like most flea markets today you will find decent produce offerings as well as food vendors mixed into the ongoing businesses as well as the bread and butter garage sale vendors. I usually just browse taking in odd offerings the can always trigger a conversation as was as wondering to myself if people buying some items at the ongoing businesses at the market have ever been inside a Dollar General Store for price comparison. One enterprising vendor on my last visit was reselling eight-packs of Kirkland toilet tissue that you buy bundled at Costco.
Unlike other flea markets in the region, the Market at Delta College is right on top of other attractions that can be combined into a somewhat unique weekend shopping excursion given Weber’s Town Mall/Sherwood Mall with likes of Dillard’s as well as Barnes & Nobles is right across the street on Pacific Avenue from the front entrance to the Delta College campus.
The quickest way to reach the Delta flea market is to take Interstate 5 to the March Lane exit in Stockton, head east to Pershing Avenue where you turn left and then turn right at Burke Bradley Road right past the shopping center.
There are about a half dozen honest-to-goodness flea markets in the area including the Tuesday Turlock Flea Market at 2500 East Avenue in Turlock and the Sunday-Monday Modesto Flea Market complete with a discount grocery store at 1107 South 7th Street in Modesto.